Did you know there is a team of volunteers on park and regional trails in Three Rivers ready to help in any situation?
They are known as park patrollers and each year, there are about 100 volunteers who patrol Three Rivers on paved bike/hike trails, singletrack mountain bike trails, horse trails, cross-country ski trails and at events.
A Day in the Life of a Park Patroller
Park patrollers ensure the trails are safe and watch for people who might need information or help if they are hurt or lost. They also help spread the “share the trail” message to trail users and educate guests on other park rules.
On a typical day, patrollers enjoy chatting with trail guests and getting exercise and fresh air. On occasion, their help is needed, like when a biker has a flat tire or a child has lost their parent or a trail hazard needs to be reported. Park patrollers also remind dog owners to keep their pets on leashes while using trails.
Park patrollers can provide basic medical assistance and help park guests in need, like when a skier has frostbitten their fingers. They are also there to help in the event someone has fallen off their bike or horse or when a person is experiencing a medical episode. Patrollers call for help when necessary and are prepared to provide basic first aid and CPR.
Having volunteer patrollers on the trails also extends the reach of park staff into more remote areas and provides visibility, which helps to deter unwanted activities. The goal is to help everyone have a good day while participating in a fun activity.
Signature race events like the Ski Rennet, Fat Bike Rennet, Trail Mix, Big Woods Classic and Autumn Woods Classic also rely heavily on the help of many park patrollers.
Patrollers in the Parks
"We love to ride the horse trails and this is a way for my horse, Jaeger, and I to give back to the parks and to our horse community," Kristin said.
Peter Wattson gets in his biking miles while patrolling the regional trails. He has biked every regional trail that Three Rivers has opened so far. He also checks out new trails as soon as (or sometimes before) they open, like Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail.
Dick Kobussen also volunteers in the summer, helping the Outdoor Recreation School with their paddling programs. He has helped patrol mountain bike races and other signature races, like Trail Mix and Autumn Woods Classic.
Patrollers sometimes use their special talents and skills when helping on trails. One year it was snowy and icy, yet Tom McConville still led racers on trails during Autumn Woods Classic.
The next time you're in the parks and you see a volunteer wearing a red shirt or jacket, be sure to say hi! It is likely a Three Rivers park patrol volunteer.
Reports from the Trails
In addition to helping trail users learn about park rules, park patrol volunteers inform staff about what's happening in the parks, for example, if there's been damage after a storm.
Park patrollers also contribute ideas for trail improvements and they provide insight into what the public is saying about the parks. Some patrollers take advantage of the natural surroundings to observe wildlife and share their sightings.
Dawn Peterson commutes to and from work on the Luce Line Regional Trail. Her latest report included a little storm damage (pictured above.)
According to Park Patroller Louise Ogden, sometimes wildlife can cause a traffic jam! She captured the photo above while patrolling Medicine Lake Regional Trail.
Byron Ritter, another park patrol volunteer, reported: "I had a wonderful evening riding along the raised boardwalks of the recently completed Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail. I parked my bike and sat at the kiosk along the trail near Tracy Road in Edina around sunset and answered questions about the trail. I received 'thanks' for being there and many accolades from patrons about how they enjoyed the new trail and look forward to connections (to other trails) they can now make."
Mike McCalley sent this picture of his favorite location — the junction of the paved trail at Elm Creek Park Reserve leading to Eastman Nature Center.
Interested in becoming a park patroller?
Three Rivers appreciates all the good work that patrollers do for the parks and trails and more patrollers are always needed!
Deb Vosler is the Volunteer Resources Coordinator for Three Rivers Park District. She started working for Three Rivers as a seasonal employee at Hyland Lake Park Reserve for the 1981-82 cross-country ski season. She was hired in her current position in the volunteer office in 1985. She is a member of National Ski Patrol and she volunteers with the Viking Nordic Patrol at ski, bike and running races in the Twin Cities.