Wilderness Information Steward on the Mesa Ranger District

Wilderness Steward at a trailhead

Wilderness Stewards are volunteers who provide information and assistance to visitors at Wilderness trailheads. They serve as hosts and act as the “eyes and ears” of the Forest Service – as a visible presence in the Forest -- and collect important information on conditions in the Forest. Wilderness Stewards are responsible for:

  • Providing for their own personal safety, in addition to the role they play watching out for others
  • Adhering to the requirements for personal protective clothing
  • Letting their supervisor know, in a timely manner, when they will be unable to work so schedules can be adjusted

Requirements for Volunteers

  • Wilderness Stewards must be good at and enjoy communicating with different people.
  • Wilderness Stewards must have hiking experience. Some Wilderness Stewards may hike longer distances and must be prepared for emergencies.
  • They must be able to work safely, independently and in pairs.
  • They should be prepared to work under varied conditions, including inclement weather and in remote locations.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Greet, register, and deliver an effective message to all visitors arriving at trailheads. Promote wilderness and Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics, and provide current area information.
  • Patrol trailheads, trails and campsites to remove all litter and signs of human impact (multiple fire rings, report abandoned gear, etc.).
  • Perform basic trail maintenance – light brushing.
  • Strive to learn more about the Wilderness, natural and human history, flora and fauna, and the recreation opportunities on the Tonto National Forest.
  • Patrol parking lots and Forest Service roadways for litter.
  • Tabulate the number of cars and registration data daily, and provide reports to Mesa Ranger District.
  • Help direct parking as lots fill.
  • Check the condition of bathrooms, assure toilet paper is available, and sweep and wash bathroom floors (if applicable).
  • Track and report questions from the public to their Forest Service supervisor.
  • Report information on water, incidents, time reports, trailhead issues, trailhead conditions to their Forest Service supervisor.
  • Report outfitter guide activities and group sizes greater than 15 people.
  • Help recruit volunteers when possible.
  • Perform all duties in a conscientious and safe manner and make safety suggestions to others and to the public where appropriate.


Volunteers will be briefed on Forest Service policies and be provided written materials and other training guides on Wilderness ethics and programs such as “Leave No Trace”. Volunteers will be included in formal and specialized training sessions. Most of the training will occur on-the-job, as volunteers draw from the experience of the Forest Service Wilderness Rangers and each other.

Time Commitment

Wilderness Stewards are asked to commit at least two regularly scheduled days per month during high-use days from November through April.


Apply as a Wilderness Steward volunteer for the Mesa Ranger District. For questions, email Tonto_Volunteers@fs.fed.us (October through April) or southzonetontovolunteers@yahoo.com (May through September) or call the Mesa Ranger District Volunteer Coordinator at (480) 610-3300. If your email has not been responded to within 10 days, contact the office.

NOTE: All volunteers under the age of 18 must have written permission from their parent/guardian before volunteering for the National Forest.

Forest Service Volunteer