With a goal of raising $15,000 to rebuild their headquarters and replace vital equipment such as tools, field radios, backpacks and other overnight gear, the The Volunteer Wilderness Rangers (VWR) are almost halfway to their goal of raising money that will make it possible to replace what was lost in the White Fire last Memorial Day weekend.
Located at a corner of the Santa Barbara Ranger District’s compound area, the VWR building was one of the first burned over when the fire began at a nearby day use area and headed directly toward the District buildings. While the fire bypassed most of them, the VWR headquarters was a complete loss.
The Volunteer Wilderness Ranger program has provided trail maintenance, repairs outbuildings such as the South Fork or Bluff backcountry stations, packs in supplies for CCC work crews and patrols Los Padres Forest to provide updated trail conditions for over 20 years. Their work after the Zaca Fire in 2007 was invaluable in providing an assessment of conditions that enabled Forest officials to plan out a restoration program.
“When the VWR headquarters burned last year we not only lost a majority of our tools, supplies and gear but our building as well,” said Los Padres Forest Association Director Bryan Conant. As the new Director, Conant quickly learned just how valuable the volunteers in the VWR program are.
“These volunteers are out on the trails almost every week clearing fallen trees, fixing damaged trails and essentially keeping the trails open for everyone to use,” he said. “It’s astounding to see just how much work goes into keeping even a mile of trail open. When you multiply that by the hundreds of miles of trail that need work throughout the Los Padres, it becomes quite clear just how crucial the VWR program is for keeping trails clear and open.”
Conant has put together a fundraising campaign to replace what was lost during the White Fire. As a gesture of support, District Ranger Pancho Smith offered the VWR program use of the original ranger’s residence not too far from the burned out shell of the original building. Conant has estimated it will take $15,000 to replace everything and outfit the new VWR home.
“Thus far we’ve collected more than $8,000 of the $15,000 goal,” said Conant. “If you use the forest please consider a small donation to help us reach our goal.” To make a donation go to the VWR Support Fund.