Dear ABWF members, volunteers, and fellow lovers of Wilderness,

This pandemic has posed difficult challenges to all of us as we adapt to an ever-changing social, economic, and emotional landscape.

The safety of our staff, volunteers, and those we meet in the backcountry has always been ABWF’s first priority. We will not perform any service work in any way that jeopardizes the health and well-being of our constituents and the surrounding communities. That includes compliance with all directives and guidelines set by federal and state authorities, including the U S Forest Service. ABWF is working with the Forest Service to implement procedures that comply with these directives. 

We will therefore proceed cautiously with some of our ABWF-sponsored activities, like trail projects, interpretive hikes, and trail ambassador work. As state and federal guidelines and circumstances change, we may make additional changes. FOR THIS REASON, PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ABWF MAY DECIDE TO CANCEL OR RESCHEDULE ANY OF OUR PROJECTS AT ANY TIME. Please keep checking our website to stay abreast of changes.

At this writing, the following will apply to all volunteer activities:

Ahead of projects:

  • Volunteers who have shown symptoms of sickness (fever, dry cough, headaches, difficulty breathing, other), or who have been around someone who has shown such symptoms, in the 14 days prior to the work date, or who have tested positive for covid-19, will be told not to show up for the project.
  • No carpooling to projects with other volunteers, except those close to you who you have already been spending time with.
  • Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in order to limit sharing among volunteers.
  • Pre-trip briefing will include applicable covid protocols. Staff will be familiar with and go over signs and symptoms of COVID-19 with all participants.
  • We will set clear expectations with staff and volunteers that adhere to hygienic and distancing guidelines outlined by the CDC. These expectations will be specifically tailored to each project or hike, depending on its logistical nature.

In the field and working:

  • We will check each person’s temperature at the start of each trip or hike; those with a temperature over 100 degrees F will not be able to join the group. We will carry thermometers for additional checks when necessary.
  • Volunteers must maintain social distancing measures at all times. Note that an acceptable distancing may be greater than six feet during hiking and working, and that social distancing applies to anyone encountered on the trail, not just crew members.
  • Volunteers will be reminded to avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and to sneeze or cough into the crux of the elbow.
  • Volunteers will bring their own work gloves, safety glasses, hand sanitizer, cloth face mask, disinfectant wipes.  Alternatively, if ABWF supplies a pair of gloves, those gloves will be taken home by the volunteers. Gloves and eyewear will not be shared throughout the project.
  • No tool or hard hat sharing. If a tool needs to be swapped, it will be sanitized.
  • Hard hats will be sanitized after each project.
  • If any volunteer experiences symptoms of sickness during an outing, he or she will notify the trip leader IMMEDIATELY. If covid-19 is considered possible, the trip will be cancelled and all personnel returned to the starting point as quickly and safely as possible. The leader will report the incident to appropriate medical authorities.

Food systems: For any overnight projects

  • Volunteers will be reminded not to share food or snacks with other volunteers.
  • Volunteers will bring their own bowls, plates, utensils, and mugs, will not share any personal items, and will sterilize these items regularly.

Increased camp hygiene:

  • The trip leader will bring bleach, hand sanitizer, and wipes to ensure greater cleanliness, and to supplement formal field handwash stations.
  • Group water storage containers will be disinfected regularly.
  • Campsites will be chosen that can accommodate appropriate distancing.
  • Volunteers will be trained on hygienic use of latrine, outhouse, or vault toilet.
  • Volunteers will be given a roll of toilet paper in a ziplock at the beginning of project. This will be theirs for the duration of the project and not be shared.
  • Staff will be familiar with and go over signs and symptoms of COVID-19 with all participants.

If exposure occurs or a participant shows symptoms of COVID:

  • All project work will cease and all personnel returned to the starting point as quickly and safely as possible.
  • As soon as practicable, ABWF will notify USFS staff (lead contact on project) that the project was stopped and crew returned due to possibility of exposure to coronavirus.
  • Any possible infected volunteer/staff shall seek medical attention immediately. The rest of crew, including leaders, will self-isolate in home until it is determined that infected individual tested negative for COVID, or 14 days.
  • ABWF will comply with any further reporting requested by USFS or local health authorities. All volunteers will cooperate as requested.
  • ABWF staff will keep crew informed on status of health of infected individual and crew for 14 days following the incident.

Please reach out to us for questions regarding our field protocols, how we arrived at this decision, or factors to consider before volunteering or learning with us. We hope that you are well and looking forward to another year of championing and caring for this wilderness!


The Staff of the ABWF

Ben Daley (PD) & David Kallenbach (ED)