Building a “Home Away from Home” for Park Volunteers
“Last year alone, park volunteers donated more than 28,000 hours of service, doing essential tasks and making significant contributions,” explains Jeff Bradybaugh, the Superintendent of Zion National Park. Volunteers in Parks are essential throughout the National Park Service. Their contribution to education, research, and rehabilitation support park priorities. In the last year, Cedar Breaks had over 1900 hours donated by visiting volunteers who provided night sky programs, repaired trails, led wildflower walks, and assisted with wildlife studies. Having access to available housing is a critical need for volunteers who wish to come and donate time but struggle with finding a place to stay. In the past, Cedar Breaks has had to turn away volunteers and research teams who offer to help but can’t secure housing during the busy summer season.
This priority project for Cedar Breaks, which the park is able to match donations 1:1, will create four campsites and a small restroom facility in the footprint of an old public campground for use by its long and short-term volunteers. Without consistent volunteers, Cedar Breaks would need to reduce the educational programs it offers, scale back the special events it hosts, delay maintenance, and suspend research projects. In addition to sustaining its current volunteers, park leadership estimates that the availability of these campsites will increase the number of hours volunteers are able to donate by a minimum of 1000 each year. By providing these support services, Cedar Breaks wants to welcome its volunteers to the National Park Service family.