Now, we can only speak to our experience, and we don’t know how other National Forests function, but we can see that the Angeles is pitifully understaffed. We have the largest urban interface of any other Forest – which means we receive more than the occasional disrespectful visitor. I don’t mean to scare off you good people, but stuff does happen here; and the local rangers have little time for damage repair. There are two basic ways we help the Forest Service and, consequently, the public. Directly and indirectly.
The biggest problem this forest has is graffiti. Sometimes it takes the age-old form of picnic table carving. These wounds cause the tables to deteriorate quickly. Also, thanks to the popularity of the Leatherman-type tools, many tables are disassembled for firewood. Working as independent contractors, we can bring new tables to anywhere the trails allow. The same goes for outhouse doors, sign-posts, BBQ’s etc.
Many visitors leave behind grocery waste, cans & bottles, and other debris. Since we regularly pass through the campgrounds on our packing rounds, we will pick up and pack out this garbage. We do other things that the rangers can’t get around to such as raking campsites, refilling toilet paper, and educating campers on safe fire habits.
If a ranger rarely has time to clean a campground, he certainly doesn’t get the time for trail work. What is done is almost exclusively performed by volunteers. The trails are our most important resource, next to the animals, and, in fact, were originally built by the old-time packers. If we don’t maintain them we don’t work; but everyone benefits from our labor.