Volunteer opportunities in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Why are volunteers needed?

In the current economic conditions federal, state and local municipalities are strapped for funding to support activities such as trail maintenance, habitat restoration, removal of invasive plants, and educational programs offered to the public. The parkland agencies have reached out to non-profit groups to help in supporting these activities to promote the goals of each of these organizations and to keep the natural resources available and safe for the public to enjoy.

What do I get out of it?

Volunteering can be a rewarding experience. Many volunteers are presented with opportunities that they may not normally get a chance to experience. Many opportunities are offered in national and state parks where you can discover new places and meet new friends. It is a safe environment with trained volunteer leaders that will help you build new skills and see some interesting places. Most of all, you get a real sense of satisfaction knowing that you've helped to make a difference, and have helped others enjoy our wonderful parks and open spaces. We have seen many volunteers return time and again after their introduction to these opportunities.

What kind of work can I help with?

There is a diverse set of volunteer projects. Take a look at our calendar to see the opportunities. Not all volunteer activities require some degree of physical exersion, but many do. Even so, everyone is encouraged to rest as much as they like - you need to enjoy the experience! Training is provided before work gets underway so don't limit your options by thinking you need to be qualified for a certain activity. Our volunteer leaders will help you through these activities.

How do I find something I'm interested in?

You can view the calendar of volunteer opportunities on our web site. Contact information for the volunteer leader will be noted for each activity as well at the location of the opportunity. You can call or email the volunteer leader for details about the activity and decide if it is right for you. If you don't find anything of interest on the calendar, or have some ideas on how to help out, get in touch with us at mail@smmtc.org and we'll see if we can work something out.

Do I need to have any experience?

You do not need any specific experience to participate in any volunteer activity. Your Volunteer leader will provide instruction as necessary. There may be some activities that require hiking to a specified location from a trailhead or some physical activity. You should inquire about these kinds of activities through your Volunteer leader to get a better understanding of the physical requirements.

Why is trailwork important?

Volunteer trail maintenance is a vital part of preserving the trails and keeping them safe for trail users. Without regular maintenance, they would become overgrown or washed out and therefore limit their use and compromise the safety of trail users. Volunteering is a great way to preserve the region's incredible trail network for the present and future generations. Also, volunteers have played a critical role in the development of new trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and other areas.

Why is habitat restoration important?

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California has lost 90 percent of its wetlands and riparian (living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse, such as a river, lake or tidewater) habitats, yet these ecosystems provide habitat to 80 percent of the state's wildlife species. Non-native plant invasion has been occurring in this fragile ecological zone since early explorers arrived with mustard seeds to mark their trails. Non-native grasses, trees and plants have found a similar home far from their lands of origin, and are a threat to native plants and animals.

What Land Agencies make up the SMMNRA?

Which trail and open space advocacy groups take part in this volunteering calendar?

In addition, we put up additional events hosted by the National Park Service and the California State Parks when we learn about them.

If your organization holds volunteer events in the Santa Monica Mountains that you would like to have included on this calendar, please get in touch with us at mail@smmtc.org.