Past Volunteering Events

Please take time to learn about these amazing volunteers.

Forest Service's 2023 Prairie Partner Award

Three people hold up the Prairie Partner Award

October 2023 – Congratulations to the New Mexico & Texas Chapters of Backcountry Hunter & Anglers in receiving the Forest Service’s 2023 Prairie Partner Award!

This award is for external partners that have demonstrated resource stewardship, a willingness to provide funding and other resources to Grassland projects and have produced innovative practices and results. Grassroots volunteers have driven hundreds of miles to reach the grasslands and execute 6 full days of field work since the project was launched in 2021. Hunters and non-hunters have worked alongside USFS Biologist Kristen Warren and her staff to modify/verify 88.4 miles of fence line, replace barbed wire with smooth wire on 2.2 miles of water exclosure fence, and improve habitat permeability for 29,376 ac or 45.91 sq. mi of this highly valuable shortgrass prairie ecosystem.

To read more on this partnership and award, visit Backcountryhunters.org.

2023 Sandia Ranger District Volunteer Appreciation Event

large group of volunteers smile for a photo
USDA Forest Service photo by Patricia E. Johnson

October 2023 - The volunteer appreciation event at Oak Flat Picnic Area celebrated and honored the amazing contributions that Forest Service volunteers have made to the Sandia Ranger District. A special appreciation goes to Public Lands Interpretive Association for their work in helping host the event.

Volunteers were recognized for their contributions to work on program trail construction/maintenance, heritage, recreation facility maintenance, visitor information services and wildlife.

The event honored and awarded volunteer individuals and groups of:

  • Friends of the Sandia Mountains
  • Albuquerque Mountain Bike Association
  • 505 Elevate
  • Placitas Area Trails Association
  • Friends of Tijeras Pueblo
  • Sandia Nordic Ski Club
  • New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors
  • New Mexico Mountain Club
  • “Adopt a Trail” Participating Groups

For more pictures on the event, go to the Cibola Flickr site.

Friends of Sandia Mountains Post Replacement

Volunteer in hardhat works on removing a decaying post at picnic area
Photo courtesy of FOSM volunteer Sam Beard

September 2023 – Sandia Ranger District - Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM) volunteers replaced 12 decayed short posts in Doc Long Picnic Shelters A and B. The replacement posts were painted with USFS brown paint. Photo shows volunteer Sim Cook cutting under the beam to remove wood to make room for the new post.

Friends of Sandia Mountains Repainting Signs

Volunteer hand repaints Forest Service sign
Photo courtesy of FOSM volunteer Sam Beard

August 2023 – Sandia Ranger District - Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM) volunteer Karen Greif repaints Forest Service sign of 8,000 ft. Vegetation by Tree Springs Trailhead off Crest Highway NM 536.

Friends of Sandia Mountains Graffiti Removal

Volunteers remove graffiti from picnic area
Photo courtesy of FOSM volunteer Sam Beard

August 2023 – Sandia Ranger District - Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM) and staff from Sandia Ranger District remove numerous small and large graffiti tags from the Juan Tabo Picnic Area CCC shelter and from nearby boulders. They use special chemicals to remove graffiti from stone and brick. This chemical is applied three times to an area with a wait time of three minutes between coats. Frequently, it is necessary to scrub the treated area with a plastic scrub brush before water is used to rinse the mixture of chemical and paint from an area.

Talking Talons Youth Leadership/Youth Conservation Corps

Volunteers sit at a picnic table outside listening to a field seminar
Photo courtesy of FOSM volunteer Sam Beard

June 2023 - Sandia Ranger District - Talking Talons Youth Leadership/Youth Conservation Corps (TTYL/YCC) crew members are presented with a field seminar on a variety of topics by Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM) volunteer Lou Romero, and Sam Beard upon the completion of projects to move branches (slash) from a fallen tree to the sidewalk at Tree Spring Trailhead.

Hamish Thomson

Hamish and his dog smile for a photo

May 2023 - Today, on the 51st Anniversary of Volunteers in the National Forest Act, we would like to acknowledge the value that volunteers contribute to our National Forest and National Grasslands.  

The USDA Forest Service Southwestern Regional Office, in partnership with Cibola NF & NGs, is highlighting one of our Cibola volunteers, Hamish Thomson.

Hamish Thomson has been a volunteer for fifteen years working with Magdalena Ranger District personnel on the Limestone Canyon Meadow Restoration Project within the San Mateo Mountains (Socorro County). Thomson’s work with the project has been to help restore the historic meadow and riparian area - mainly utilizing locally available material to construct erosion control features. During this time span, Hamish grew to love all the life here. He returns season after season because the canyon provides him with a growing understanding of the connectedness of all beings. 

Thank you, Hamish and all our volunteers with the Cibola NF & NGs in helping us Care for the Land and Serving People. 

2022 Sandia Ranger District Volunteer Appreciation Event

large group of happy volunteers gather for a group photo at a picnic area
USDA Forest Service photo by Patricia E. Johnson

October 2022 - The volunteer appreciation event at Oak Flat Picnic Area celebrated and honored the amazing contributions that Forest Service volunteers have made to the Sandia Ranger District. A special appreciation goes to Public Lands Interpretive Association for their work in helping host the event.

Volunteers were recognized for their contributions to work on program trail construction/maintenance, heritage, recreation facility maintenance, visitor information services and wildlife.

The event honored and awarded volunteer individuals and groups of:

  • Friends of the Sandia Mountains
  • Albuquerque Mountain Bike Association
  • 505 Elevate
  • Placitas Area Trails Association
  • Friends of Tijeras Pueblo
  • Sandia Nordic Ski Club
  • New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors
  • New Mexico Mountain Club
  • “Adopt a Trail” Participating Groups

For more pictures on the event, go to the Cibola Flickr site.

Cross-country ski system trail grooming

Cross-country ski system trail grooming

February 2023 - Volunteer partners from Sandia Nordic Ski Club groom a small system of cross-country skiing specific trails accessed from the 10K and Ellis trailheads on the Sandia Ranger Distict.

Providing a small groomed cross-country ski system of trails is a lot of work! Trails built and groomed takes hours of work every time the snow flies from removing fallen trees, maintaining signs and setting track. Each volunteer groomer is certified to operate the equipment to ensure safety and quality for the public to enjoy.

Student Volunteers from Des Moines High School, NM work on the Kiowa and Rita Blanca Ranger District

Student volunteers raise the bottom wire on the boundary fence to allow for easier wildlife passage

September 2022 - At the Felt Picnic Area in Cimarron County, OK the student volunteers from Des Moines High School removed brush and trash from the picnic area and raised the bottom wire on the boundary fence to allow for easier wildlife passage. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist presented the students with reasons for wildlife projects on the National Grasslands and Rangeland Management Specialists discussed how the Forest Service manages livestock grazing on the National Grasslands.

Enchanted Chapter of Quail Forever Volunteers work to replace habitat fencing

Volunteers repair fencing on the Magdalena Ranger District

August 2022 - Magdalena Ranger District - Volunteers from the Enchanted Chapter of Quail Forever came from Albuquerque to help the Magdalena Ranger District staff remove a dilapidated fence enclosure surrounding 2 acres of quail habitat and a rain water catchment system called a “quail guzzler” at the base of the Bear Mountains.

The crew installed a new fence to serve as a barrier to keep ungulates (hooved animals such as deer, elk, cows, etc.) from accessing the water and vegetation that benefits quail. The fence was first installed circa 1950, and over time the wooden posts and barbed wire degraded until the fence became non-functional. Restoring this enclosure to a functional state will protect the guzzler and surrounding habitat from grazing and provide forage and nesting habitat for quail. This protected area will also benefit a diverse array of other wildlife and plants. Projects such as this serve to protect wildlife habitats while still allowing for sustainable multiple-use management of Forest Service lands.

Volunteers work on the Water Canyon Cabin on the Magdalena Ranger District

volunteers on ladders working on the exterior of a cabin


May 2022 - Magdalena Ranger District - Volunteers from the Ancestral Lands Program Conservation Corps, Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM), New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors (NMVO), NM SiteWatch, and archaeologists from the Cibola National Forest work hard on repairs to the Water Canyon Cabin.

This cabin was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) between 1939-1940.

Friends of Tijeras Pueblo (FTP) Sponsor Native Garden Planting Day

Friends of Tijeras Pueblo are planting plants in a garden with shovels


May 2022 - Sandia Ranger District - Friends of Tijeras Pueblo (FTP) sponsored a native garden planting day with archaeologists from the Sandia Ranger District. In two gardens, volunteers planted traditional plant varieties that are cultigens of the American Southwest.

These demonstration gardens are intended to provide visitors with a visual image of what might have been grown at the time Tijeras Pueblo was occupied.

Stephanie Long Wins 2021 USDA Forest Service Volunteers Service Award

Stephanie Long does a scat analysis while students look on

Stephanie Long won the 2021 USDA Forest Service Volunteers & Service Award for Citizen Stewardship & Partnership. Stephanie Long has been a volunteer and partner with the Sandia Ranger District since 2013. She is the co-founder of the Sandia Mountain Bear Collaborative (SMBC), whose mission is to better understand the black bear population in the Sandia Mountains and to educate the public about peacefully coexisting with bears and other wildlife in the area.

Forest Service Associate Chief Angela Coleman announced the winners of the FY2021 Annual Volunteers & Service Awards in a video, including Stephanie Long. Celebrating our Volunteers.

Fence Modification for Pronghorn Passage

volunteers work on fencing on the Kiowa National Grassland

April 2022 – Kiowa National Grasslands - The New Mexico Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), joined by their armed forces initiative out of Kirtland AFB, volunteered to work with the Kiowa NG staff and biologist from NMDGF to modify fences for safer pronghorn passage.

The volunteers improved 10 miles of fence line by raising the bottom barbed wire up to a more suitable height, and by completely replacing the lowest barbed wire with smooth wire for ¾ mile in a critical area so pronghorn can better escape predators, find food, and access water

Removal of Down Trees on 10K North Trail

volunteers work to remove down tree


January 2022 – Sandia Ranger District - Volunteers with the Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM) and staff of the Sandia RD worked to remove 28 down trees from 1.5 miles of the 10K North Trail in the snow.

The diameter of the largest log removed was 30 inches where it was cut. The diameter of the largest log found across the trail was over 40 inches.

The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands has so much appreciation for the commitment and hard work of the FOSM volunteers.

Trail Relocation Work in Placitas

volunteers work on trail

January 2022 - Sandia Ranger District - In coordination with the Cibola NF & NGs and the Sandia Ranger District, volunteers with the Friends of Sandia Mountains (FOSM) and Placitas Area Trails Association (PATA) recently worked to complete relocation of a user-created trail in Placitas as part of the Sandia Trail Improvement Project.

The overall purpose of this trail reroute was to improve long-term trail sustainability and protection of adjacent resources while providing added dispersed recreation opportunities in the Placitas Area Trails System.

Volunteers Assist in Clearing Hazardous Tree

two people in winter gear and hard hats chainsaw fallen pine trees. Snow on the ground.

December 2021 - Sandia Ranger District - Thanks to Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM) volunteers for helping the Sandia Ranger District staff to clear a hazardous tree from Capulin Snow Play Area access road. Because of our volunteers there was lots of winter fun to enjoy from the recent snow event!

“FOSM is awesome. Always appreciate how much they all do for the district and the public!” Crystal Powell, Sandia District Ranger

Challenge Trail Extension Project

people in hardhats digging a new trail

October 2021 - Sandia Ranger District - In coordination with the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands and the Sandia Ranger District, volunteers with the Friends of Sandia Mountains and the Albuquerque Mountain Bike Association completed construction of phase 1 (of 2) on approximately 1.45 miles of the Challenge Trail Extension Project. The overall purpose of this project trail was to provide for a loop opportunity for all users as well as providing an alternative to the Tree Spring Trail (which is very popular with hikers) for bicycles. Photo courtesy of Jenny Blackmore, Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM).

Kerry Wood, Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands Trails and Wilderness Manager, stated: 

As more and more people visit the forest to recreate and explore, a well-designed and constructed trail system is essential to provide the opportunities they seek while protecting resources. We have a wealth of highly experienced and motivated volunteers on the Sandia Ranger District to assist in making that idea a reality – we couldn’t do it without them.
 

National Public Lands Day Graffiti Removal

Workers scrubbing canyon wall to remove graffiti

September 2021 - Sandia Ranger District - As part of National Public Lands Day (NPLD), the Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM) and the Talking Talons Youth Leadership/Youth Conservation Corps (TTYL/YCC) used specific process techniques and chemicals to remove graffiti from two locations. Working in coordination with the Sandia Ranger District, crews removed graffiti from two locations in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Water System Canyon just east of the La Luz Trailhead parking lot. The Forest Service thanks all our volunteers for their contributions to public lands, especially when it involves such hard work to repair acts of deliberate vandalism.

Restoration Tree Planting

restoration work tree planting

September 2021 - Sandia Ranger District - Trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, trees contribute to their environment over long periods of time by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife.

Reforestation work starts with analysis after a fire or other disturbance to determine long-term objectives of the land based on the forest plan. Developing site-specific reforestation requirements is part of the analysis. Where reforestation is required, treatments are designed to achieve satisfactory stocking promptly.

Planting on the Sandia Ranger District was completed by volunteers to include the Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM) and Talking Talons Youth Leadership. 

Forest Trash Cleanup Work

Volunteers gathered around in a discussion

June 2021 - Mt Taylor Ranger District - The New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA) and the Mt. Taylor District of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands hosted a clean-up event on Mt Taylor. Citizens from the Mt Taylor area and beyond assisted in the cleanup after other people to keep the forest clean. Volunteer crews worked along Forest Service roads and trails to remove bottles, cans, furniture, tires, and more trash to fill 40-yard dumpster.

Trail Grooming Work

Volunteers clearing a groomed trail of trees

June 2021 - Sandia Ranger District - Friends of the Sandia Mountains (FOSM) volunteers cleared a segment of corridor for a groomed trail being developed by the Sandia Nordic Ski Club (SNSC) in the area between 10K South Trailhead and Ellis Trailhead.

Due to the Stage II Fire Restrictions that were in place at the time, gasoline chain saws were used to fell trees and buck logs until 10 am. Later, battery-powered chain saws were used to fell smaller trees and buck logs. Approximately two dozen trees were felled with diameters ranging from 4 inches to 12 inches. Numerous logs were bucked so that they could be moved to the side of the corridor.

Trail Connection & Gate Install Work

Volunteers gathered around a newly installed gate

April 2021 - Mt Taylor Ranger District - Volunteers from Adventure Gallup assisted Cibola NF & NGs staff on the Mt Taylor Ranger District in a very productive workday. The crew worked to install gates and approximately 1,000 feet of new trail connecting to the new Milk Ranch Trailhead.

Amazing group of volunteers making a difference on the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands.

Fence Modification Work

a BHA volunteer, measures the bottom wire of a fence to see if it���s tall enough for pronghorn to pass under

April 2021 - Kiowa National Grasslands - New Mexico Chapter of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) held a volunteer event on the Kiowa National Grasslands to do important project work for the district. Over 30 BHA volunteers helped to improve wildlife habitat connectivity for pronghorn by modifying the bottom wire of fences.

Leia Barnett, a BHA volunteer, measures the bottom wire of a fence to see if it’s tall enough for pronghorn to pass under on the Kiowa National Grasslands.

View the project video.

Trail Repair Work

Volunteers working on a trail with hand toolsFebruary 2021 - Sandia Ranger District - Volunteers of the 505/Elevate Cycling Team assisted Cibola NF & NGs staff in work on trails #230 and #365 in the Sandia Foothills.

This work was implemented to repair sections of trail that were previously showing high rates of soil loss and erosion due to improper trail design. Due to deteriorating conditions of the trail, several alternate paths had developed on both sides creating further impacts to the area. With small scale relocations, drainage is improved therefor improving condition of the official trail, so alternatives are not created. Further erosion and sedimentation impacting local area watershed health is eliminated.

Restoration Tree Planting

Volunteers planting trees on the Sandia Ranger DistrictNovember 2020 - Sandia Ranger District - Volunteers from Friends of Sandia Mountains assisted Cibola National Forest staff in planting over 200 ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir seedlings on the east mountains of the Sandia Ranger District. This area had been harvested the previous year to remove dead and dying trees from an infestation of fir engraver and Douglas-fir tussock moth.

“This was a great day of hard work and we so appreciate the Friends of Sandia Mountain volunteers in working with us to successfully accomplish this important process with such care,” said Shawn Martin, Cibola NF & NGs Forest Silviculturist.