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State parks seek more volunteers

Morgan Aguilar
June 20, 2017 03:49 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico State Parks rely heavily on volunteers to operate. They have more than 2,300 volunteers statewide, but they need more.

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"When you're in our position and you see how much they actually dedicate and contribute to the whole cause, it's unbelievable," said Eric Ytuarte, Park Supervisor at Hyde Memorial State Park.

Volunteers range from camp hosts who stay at a campsite overnight, to day volunteers and members of "Friends Groups." Friends of the park volunteer their time to help park staff in any way they can. They even fundraise -- so if a park needs a new bench, park administrators can ask the Friends to write a check instead of having to go through the same bureaucratic process State Parks would.

"We rely heavily on our friends group," said Ytuarte. "We also rely heavily on all our volunteers annually. They put in countless hours of work."

Ytuarte says volunteers are mostly people who have retired. The Friends of Hyde group has dwindled down to five members, while some others in the state have hundreds.

"They have been doing it for a number of years, a lot of them, and so we're kind of looking at the next generation of people to step up and help out," said Ytuarte.

Volunteers say they enjoy meeting people from all over the world, and spending time outside in some of the state’s most beautiful spots.

"To get this sort of freedom of space, fresh air and get back to nature is really what it's about," said Tim Taylor, President of Hyde Memorial State Park’s Friends Group. "It's a good social outlet but it's also good community service."

Friends groups meet regularly with park staff to talk about events they'd like to host, and ways to spend the money they've raised. Taylor says one year they hired a group to add a trail to Hyde Park.

"As time goes on and resources maybe dry up more and more from the bureaucracy, it's going to be up to us to sustain these type of activities," said Taylor.

Friends of Hyde will be hosting music in Hyde Park on August 12. The community is invited to relax and learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Anyone interested in volunteering can also head to http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/spd/volunteering.html

Credits

Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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