If you hike or cycle on Redlands rural public trails, you will likely meet up with one of Redlands Conservancy’s Outdoor Ambassadors, dressed in bright chartreuse vests and ready with answers to a host of questions about the trails and open space sites.
The Outdoor Ambassadors have been taking care of Redlands’ public trails and greeting Redlands’ hikers and cyclists since 2014, for the past three years, under the leadership of Conservancy members Mason Einhorn and Michele DeCourten who have been the volunteer coordinators, a title they have relinquished as of June 1.
“Conservancy member Carol Blaney founded the Outdoor Ambassadors, and turned over the coordinator job in 2016,” said Redlands Conservancy Executive Director Sherli Leonard. “With Einhorn and DeCourten at the helm, the volunteer group has expanded their work to include trail care, trail condition monitoring, and activities to enhance the public’s enjoyment. Now, we are searching for a volunteer coordinator who will build on the work that has been done.”
While coordinators, Einhorn and DeCourten have trained another 50 Outdoor Ambassadors, overseen the development and installation of way-finding signs for most of the 28 miles of public trails, organized trail care volunteer days to maintain the trails so they are safe for users, conducted guided hikes, and, among other activities, developed the set of trail maps and brochures with the aid the Conservancy’s administrative assistant, Erica Serrao-Leiva and of the City’s Quality of Life Department staff, Joe Chacones. The maps are available at bicycle shops in Redlands, and on Redlands Conservancy’s web site and the City of Redlands’ web site. Einhorn and DeCourten also coordinated the publication of the Conservancy’s Field Guide, available to only Outdoor Ambassadors.
“As of May 31, all of Redlands public trails, including the five miles of trails at San Timoteo Nature Sanctuary and the 7 miles of trails at Herngt ‘Aki’ Preserve, are in excellent condition,” said Einhorn, describing the constant upkeep required since the rains of the 2018-19 season. “Our trail care crew, including cyclist Jonathan Baty and Gateway Ranch caretaker Kermit Lange, have put in scores of hours mowing and trimming to get the weeds off the trails.”
“Our Outdoor Ambassadors make a difference in the quality of experience that trail users have on the rural public trails,” said Leonard. “In addition to the trail work, the OAs learn about the animals and plants on the sites, and the history of the area, and share that information with trail users. They rove the trails to be available to provide safety information, if needed.”
Leonard will work with Einhorn and DeCourten and a handful of active OAs to develop the coordinator job description. While Einhorn and DeCourten have put in an average of 20 hours a week on the job, they expect the continuing job to take less time, as they will hold onto the Trail Care Crew work.
“In the past, we have conducted the Outdoor Ambassador training in September,” said Leonard. “We will work during the summer to re-evaluate that process, but in the meanwhile, anyone interested in volunteering to be an OA can contact the Conservancy and learn how to be trained. It’s important that any OA feel confident being on the trail, equipped with accurate and useful information, including knowledge of the trails and the sites.”
For more information about Redlands Conservancy’s Outdoor Ambassador program, visit www.redlandsconservancy.org and call (909) 782-6208.