Forest Service Volunteer Association, Volunteer Ranger patrols and assists forest visitors near Skunk Cabbage Meadows in the San Jacinto Mountains.  Photo courtesy of Brad Ells









Volunteering on a National Forest can be a rewarding and educational experience.

Volunteers are the Heartbeat of the US Forest Service.

Volunteer service in the Forest Service was formalized in the Volunteers in the National Forest Act of 1972. The national forests, grasslands, and prairies are there for you to enjoy because many people have served over numerous years to preserve, protect and improve them.

Now you can give something back by volunteering.

What Captures Your Interest?

The diversity of projects and positions available offers each person a chance to participate in an activity that meets their individual or group interests. Trail work, campground host, bird surveys, conservation education, fire lookout, Adopt-A-Trail, information receptionist, and wilderness restoration projects are a few examples of what may be available. Other possibilities might include working in the field with biologists, botanists, archaeologists, recreation rangers, and other Forest Service personnel.

Why Volunteer?

Working with the Forest Service and fellow volunteers is an opportunity to see what our National Forests have to offer in a way beneficial to both yourself and the forest. The commitment you make is up to you.

  • It can give you the opportunity to pursue a special interest, such as bird watching or hiking.
  • Develop or diversify your job experience and career choices.
  • Earn credit towards college with volunteer internships.
  • If you are retired or have summers free, live on a national forest while you work as a volunteer.
  • Perform vigorous but satisfying physical labor outdoors.
  • Meet people and form new friendships, or gain self-satisfaction in providing community service.
  • Spending time in the outdoors, enjoying the company of your fellow volunteers and visitors, can give you a new perspective on other facets of your life.

Many groups sponsor one-time events that are posted on the Federal Government's Volunteer site; Volunteer.Gov or VolunteerMatch a private non-profit organization dedicated to helping everyone find a great place to volunteer.

Looking to form a partnership on your public lands? The Partnership Resource Center provides online resources you need for building vibrant partnerships and effective collaboration on the nation's forests, grasslands, and other special places. The PRC website is a joint project of the National Forest Foundation and the United States Forest Service.

Volunteer Organizations

Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation
The Foundation is a broad base of unified stakeholders committed to creating, enhancing, preserving and promoting nonmotorized use of Big Bear Valley trails and roadways for the enjoyment and transportation of residents and visitors

Fisheries Resource Volunteer Corps

The FRVC was established in 1994 as a fisheries conservation group, to protect and monitor 11 wild trout streams and 4 tributaries of these streams in the Angeles and San Bernardino Forests through 15 regular stream patrols by trained FRVC Volunteers. The primary purpose of the patrols is to interact with forest visitors, providing information and educating on camping, fire, fishing, pollution and safety regulations, as well as responding to emergency situations. Additional patrol tasks include the removal of illegal fire rings, graffiti, trash, recreational dams and servicing and maintaining angler survey boxes and signage.

The FRVC also assists the Forest Service and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife with a variety of projects, which include, documenting damage to resources, invasive plant removal, stream cleanup projects, electro-fishing surveys, aquatic insect studies, fish recovery, stream surveys, bald eagle and big horn sheep surveys, and water quality sampling and testing.

For more information please contact Tom Walsh at tsw64@verizon.net.

Forest Service Adopt A Trail
Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) clubs and organizations in partnership with the San Bernardino National Forest adopt trails and routes and the group provides the maintenance needed to sustain recreational use by the public throughout the operating season. Local ranger districts decide which trails or routes should be adopted and the Adopt-A-Trail Coordinator makes the route assignments based on the group’s request and trail needs.  Each trail is different, but to the right is a list of the types of maintenance that can be required.

Forest Service Greenthumbs
Volunteers meet at least once a month to work in the greenhouse, collect seeds, plant seedlings on the Forest, or to assist in mulching, watering, or weeding sites for the entire San Bernardino range from Ranch Cucamonga to Angelus Oaks. For more information please contact (909) 382-2790.

Forest Service Heritage Volunteers                                                                                                                 Help tell our story: find, study and preserve or promote archaeological sites, historical buildings, and archived materials.  For more information, contact (909) 382-2661.

Forest Service Volunteer Association
Members patrol the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Wildernesses. FSVA Wilderness Volunteers, on foot and horseback, serve as the eyes and ears of the Forest Service, providing information to wilderness visitors, maintaining trails and campsites, and reporting any problems they encounter.

Friends of the Desert Mountains
Friends of the Desert Mountains is the nonprofit support arm for the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument — the parklands that provide such spectacular scenery, wildlife, and recreation for our growing Coachella Valley communities.  Volunteers support the variety of needs and activities on the monument, including facility expansion, scientific research, cultural preservation, environmental and conservation education, and community outreach programs. Since 2000, we have raised funds to remodel the visitor center, coordinated the Environmental Health Education program with schools in the Monument, organized volunteers to greet and educate Monument visitors, and much more. For more information please contact (760) 568-9918.

Mountaintop Recreation Volunteers
Volunteers work to support district recreation facilities and opportunities in the Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake areas. They work with district staff, assisting them with their duties. They organize clean-up and graffiti removal projects and they are trained to provide visitors with Forest information.  For more information, contact the Discovery Center at (909) 382-2790.

Pacific Crest Trail Association
Volunteers work on parts of the 2,600 mile long Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) both as trail adopters and through regularly scheduled weekend projects (1-4 days) and service trips (5-10 days). The PCTA, in cooperation with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and California State Parks, is also the primary source for information about the PCT.

Rim of the World Interpretive Association
Maintains and staffs the Heap's Peak Arboretum and operates a retail outlet there. They present interpretive events and tours.

San Gorgonio Wilderness Association
Volunteers provide information and interpretation to visitors, develop publications, lead nature walks, present evening programs, construct displays, repair and build trails, patrol the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and operate the Barton Flats Visitor Center and Big Falls Information Center. Volunteers attend a day-long training workshop every year in May. SGWA sells maps and other publications and has published a book on the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

Southern California Mountains Foundation
Volunteers assist the Forest with through several major volunteer programs.

Children's Forest Volunteers are youth from 11 to 17 that serve as naturalists and assist with interpretive programs, forest restoration and greenhouse work.  Adults assist volunteers and mentor youth volunteers.

Fire Lookout Hosts watch for fire and provide interpretation visitor information at lookout towers on Butler Peak, Keller Peak, Strawberry Peak, Black Mountain, Tahquitz Peak, Morton Peak, and Red Mountain.

Discovery Center Volunteers Greet visitors at the Big Bear Discovery Center,, provide information, present interpretive programs, use skills to educate visitors on forest stewardship, and enjoy the outdoors while giving back to the community.  Required training offered year-round.

Non-motorized Adopt-a-Trail provides opportunities for volunteer working with mountain bike groups to maintain trails.  One group working with them that can be contacted directly is the Big Bear Valley Trails Foundation (link title to www.trailsfondation.org): the Foundation is a broad base of unified stakeholders committed to creating, enhancing, preserving and promoting non-motorized use of Big Bear Valley trails and roadways for the enjoyment and transportation of residents and visitors

Off-Highway Vehicle Volunteers ride the roads and trails, use kiosks at staging areas to provide visitors with safety and access messages, maintain and monitor resources, and educate youth.  Off-Highway Education Trailer volunteers staff a mobile interactive educational exhibit that travels to schools, community events and industry shows.

The Foundation also provides a variety of interpretive services, partnerships, and fundraising activities.

Wildfire Prevention Volunteers
The program is to extend and enhance the US Forest Service wildfire prevention and forest heritage programs.  Among a variety of activities, volunteer teams manage a 1924 USFS Model T, assist with Smokey Bear, assist with logistical support, support the Airtanker Base public viewing area.  In addition, volunteers patrol on mountain bikes and serve as ambassadors at the local ski resorts.



  • Passport in Time
    Passport in Time, Forest Service.

    Passport in Time (PIT) is a volunteer program of the US Forest Service. PIT provides opportunities for the public to work with professional archaeologists and historians on national forests and grasslands across the country.

  • Preserve America
    Preserve America logo: Explore and Enjoy Our Heritage!

    Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and enjoy our priceless cultural and natural heritage.