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Glendale wants volunteers to replace laid-off city naturalists

July 1, 2012 |  5:18 pm

Glendale will recruit volunteer naturalists
Glendale officials are preparing to recruit volunteers to replace the naturalists the city laid off last year.

The city has more than 5,000 acres of parks, but no one is patrolling the land to report damage and unsafe conditions or educate the public. But that is set to change by September.

City officials plan to select about two dozen volunteers to make up hiking and mountain biking units of the new Trail Safety Patrol in coming months, the Glendale News-Press reported.

"This will not be your average volunteer program," as it will require training and a strong skill set, Community Services and Parks Director Jess Duran said at a City Council meeting last week.

The city eliminated its naturalist program -- made up of two full-time staffers and one part-time staffer -- last June, citing an $18-million budget shortfall.

The new volunteer program will be modeled after similar ones in the Santa Monica Mountains and Oakland's East Bay Regional Park.

The trail patrol is set to cover the Verdugo Mountains, San Rafael Hills and Deukmejian Wilderness Park, said Marc Stirdivant, senior administrative analyst in the Community Services and Parks department. Dozens of people use the city's more than 30 miles of fire roads and 7.5 miles of single-track trails on a daily basis, according to a city report.

City staff plans to find volunteers through referrals and environmental and recreational groups such as the Sierra Club and the Los Angeles-based Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Assn.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and do not have to live in Glendale, Stirdivant said. Each will be expected to work only about four hours a month, he said.

Volunteers must go through a background check and city-designed training program that will include courses in first aid, park rules, park history, plants and animals, dealing with difficult people and working with public safety officials, officials said.

"I think it's a great idea," said Mayor Frank Quintero. "I can't wait for it to move forward."


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-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Photo: Glendale is seeking volunteers to cover the Verdugo Mountains, San Rafael Hills and Deukmejian Wilderness Park. Credit: Mike Mullen / Times Community News