New Year, New Volunteer Guidelines

What do the new guidelines mean for volunteering with DNR? 

Volunteers make the world go round. Well, they at least help keep DNR’s trails and facilities maintained and safe for all kinds of recreationists on our public lands. We know that people are itching to get outside to their favorite trails. With spring right around the corner, we need you to help us get those trails back in shape.

DNR recently released new guidelines for volunteers under the direction set out in Governor Inslee’s Reopening Plan, which can help DNR and our volunteers to stay safe while helping to get our beloved trails back in shape.

“The governor’s office considers outdoor volunteer events (like those done on DNR-managed lands) as falling under the guidelines for ‘guided outdoor activities,”’ said Jon Snyder, outdoor recreation and economic development senior policy advisor to Governor Inslee.

“We know that people are anxious to get outside and help get our beautiful trails back in shape for the spring. These guidelines will help to ensure everyone is safe while assisting our outdoor community.”

The new guidelines change the maximum group size allowed during any event held outside to 12 volunteers and staff as needed. This means the total group size could be 14, with 12 volunteers and two DNR staff to help with logistics regardless of households.

Let’s Stay Safe

In addition to the task-specific safety measures, volunteers must follow these six safety guidelines: 

1. We hope you feel better

Are you feeling sick? We are sorry, stay home and get some rest. No matter what kind of symptoms you have (even if they are not coronavirus related), no one should perform any duties if they feel ill.

2. That mask looks great on you

We mean it, you look so good with your mask on, we want you to wear it the whole time. It’s the trendiest trend in 2021, promise. If N95 masks are available, those are the best. Why? They are the safest and most stylish. A little side note, don’t forget to drink water. Dehydration makes work harder.

3. Double the gear. Double the fun.

You need personal protective equipment (PPE) for outdoor work. So, don’t forget to pack your hard hat, leather gloves and closed-toe shoes. Also, layer for the weather (you know, sun, rain, sleet and partly-cloudy).

In addition to outdoor gear, please bring COVID-specific PPE. This includes facemasks, non-fabric disposable gloves, eye protection, hand sanitizer and a garbage bag. You might not need it but it’s best to be prepared.

4. Stay away!

Maintain a distance of 6 feet at all times from folks who are not in your household. While working out on the trail, post signs nearby to announce your presence. Safely move away from a worksite to allow others to pass. 

5. Clean hands are the best hands

Most DNR-sites that don’t have running water, so you might need to throw in a bar of soap, along with an extra water bottle in your pack — we hear those old hotel bars that you have been stashing for the last decade still work great.

When you can’t find soap and water, make sure to carry hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Clean hands when eating, when touching your face and after using the bathroom (especially after using the bathroom). 

6. Be selfish with your tools

Counterintuitive to what we were taught as children, sharing is not caring during a pandemic. Do your best to limit the tool sharing. Wear gloves while handling tools to reduce opportunities to spread those gross germs. If you end up using DNR tools and equipment, make sure to sanitize and disinfect after. Disinfecting is how we show we care in 2021.

I’m ready. Now what?

To get involved, check out DNR’s volunteer page and look for work parties in your area on our calendar. You can also connect with the recreation managers in your area. Sometimes, DNR partners with other groups for events.

One of those organizations is the Washington Trails Association (WTA). The organization’s field operations senior manager, Moleek Busby, says:

“It is wonderful that people are eager to get outside and help get our beautiful trails back in shape. We want to give as many folks as possible the chance to give back while ensuring everyone is safe. Anyone interested in helping out can sign-up at http://www.wta.org/volunteer. WTA will do our best to ensure we give as many folks as possible the opportunity to join a work party.”

Questions? Email us at recreation@dnr.wa.gov. Learn more about specific guidelines for events by checking out our other blog post: Can I host my event?