Natural Areas Team Launches New Volunteer Initiative

By bernheim

Volunteers help clear the trail of fallen branches.

Last week, Bernheim’s Natural Areas team launched a new volunteer initiative, Trail Ranger Training Hikes. A group of volunteers joined members of the Natural Areas team and hiked the 5-mile Elm Lick Trail. Along the way, participants gained knowledge about trail maintenance, safety, and stewardship of Bernheim’s forests. Evan Patrick, Natural Areas Manager, guided volunteers through key trail maintenance tasks—trash pick up, observation of invasive species, potentially hazardous branches or fallen logs to clear, and old plastic blazes that should be cut down from trees.

Over the next year, the Natural Areas team plans to replace plastic and spray paint trail blazes with more ecologically-friendly ones that will last longer and be less harmful to the forest’s habitats. Cody Ferguson, Natural Areas Specialist, showed volunteers the proper techniques for trimming back branches that impede the trail. And Doug Wilson, one of Bernheim’s Volunteer Naturalists, pointed out several different types of moss that grow in the forest.  

Natural Areas Specialist, Cody Ferguson demonstrates proper pruning techniques in the forest.

Participants in Trail Ranger Training Hikes will become certified to do minor trail maintenance on their own. The training equips volunteers to identify and report hazards on trails, such as erosion, dead animals, or fallen branches. The Natural Areas Department, despite its limited team size, manages over 40 miles of hiking trails, necessitating additional support to maintain the safety and enjoyment of Bernheim’s trails. This emphasizes the importance of diligent monitoring to ensure a secure and pleasurable experience for visitors.

If you’re interested in becoming a Trail Ranger, the first step is attending a general volunteer orientation! These take place on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 am and the third Saturday of each month at 1 pm. To learn more and sign up visit Bernheim’s volunteer website. 


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