04 January 2024

Working Behind the Scenes at ElDorado Canyon State Park

Written by: Brittany Duran

I have completed my first month as a Trails, Maintenance, and Forestry Intern at the El Dorado Canyon State Park, and I have already learned so much, and most important of all, I am working alongside incredible park employees and volunteers that instantly welcomed me as part of the El Do team.

During the first visit of the canyon, all I could think was, “woah… I get to work here?!” As I drove through, the high ridges and mountain peaks stunned me, the South Boulder Creek flow sounded so peaceful, and when I hiked a part of the El Do Canyon Trail to scout the area, I was in awe of the panoramic views.

I began my first days at El Do shadowing my cool supervisor who taught me the daily duties of the job, which include getting to the park before anyone else does (important quiet time), cleaning the park’s visitor center, the outdoor restrooms, and picnic areas throughout the park. I learned how to collect, analyze, and submit weekly water samples to ensure the park has bacteria free water flow and a sustainable level of chlorine. In addition to this data collection, I have revived my use of the Avenza maps app to hike to all park trails and collect vehicle, bike, and people counts to view hourly and monthly number of visits.

Moreover, I have gained experience in forestry, by using a chainsaw and completing the step-by-step process of sawing down trees, creating firewood, while expanding my knowledge on fire mitigation, forest disease and pests, and overall safety. In this past month, I have also discovered the answers to questions I would always ask myself on trails like, “Why are these big steps here? How are these big rocks remaining held? How long does it take to build these steps?” With the instruction, guidance, and effort of my supervisor and park volunteers, I have learned how to split rock, to break a big rock to smaller chunks, rig a heavy rock to transplant to a semi-permanent and safer location, and use rocks to enhance a trail and construct a rock wall to prevent rundown.

Within my first month of being at El Do, I have been given plenty of opportunities to work on all types of projects from removing invasives to repairing trail fence, and I will say that all of these projects I’ve worked on have helped me better understand how the El Do Canyon State Park is maintained, enhanced, and overall has been a natural attraction to people around the world. El Do has quickly become my home away from home, and as a first-generation undergrad student and a Latina, I’ve definitely felt empowered as an intern since I have stepped into a field of work where my demographic is low, further motivating me to continue to gain experience and share with Latino and Hispanic communities.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to learn more of what work is being done at state parks that conserve wildlife, wilderness, and strives for connectivity between people and nature, as well as personally and professionally acquire skills that will advance my career in conservation.

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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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