Bureau of Land Management Volunteer Program
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) volunteer program allows volunteers to gain hands on experience working in the field alongside full-time employed professionals.
Most commonly, volunteers perform basic duties pertaining to any facet of the recreational services provided by the BLM. Wherever your interest lies with the BLM, chances are there is a volunteer position available for you.
Volunteering isn’t just a wonderful opportunity for an individual. Couples and families are also welcome. You can make a difference by helping our nation and our planet, all while gaining experience and memories that will last forever. Volunteers work hard but they play hard too, meet new people, and get to enjoy new wildlife and breathtaking scenery.
Did You Know? The BLM has an “adopt-a-cabin” program that is a volunteer partnership program designed to save all remaining mining cabins on public lands. The program started in 1990 and only survived due to the kindness of strangers who volunteered their time.
Volunteering with the BLM
The federal government is responsible for the maintenance, protection and preservation of over 245 million acres of land. Of that, the BLM is responsible for more than half, making it the nation’s largest manager of trust land. Each year the BLM hosts over 20,000 volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to care for the land. So, just what do volunteers for the BLM do?
- Serve as rangers, campground hosts, firewatchers, hike leaders and guides
- Protect plants, trees, wildlife habitats, clean trails and streams
- Perform land, mineral and plant surveys alongside biologists
- Help update maps and records, both on paper and in computerized form
- Take photos, document data, conduct research, pull soil and water samples, run tests and write reports on findings
- Work in offices helping civil engineers, computer programmers and IT specialists with websites
- Help maintain trails, build structures, roads and signage
- Plant trees, clear shrubs, evaluate fire hazards and do controlled burns
- Some may earn college credit through summer student intern programs
The BLM tries to provide housing for most of its volunteers as well as food or a food stipend, depending on location. Housing can be as basic as a tent, rustic like a bunkhouse or as nice as an apartment or house where you get your own room. In all cases, prepare for the most basic and consider anything above that a nice surprise.
The BLM provides all of their volunteers with the training, materials and tools that they need in order to perform their volunteer duties. This can include anything from flashlights or radios to government vehicles. Remember all expenses that are not reimbursed or taken care of by the BLM directly are tax-deductible due to the charitable contribution.
The application is pretty straightforward, and because it’s for a non-paid volunteer position, it’s much less complicated and detailed than you might think. First, applicants must decide where they would like to volunteer. Once you have found a project that interests you, you can apply online. Applications can be downloaded from the BLM volunteer site and submitted by e-mail. If you prefer you can also call and ask to have an application mailed to your house, but this will take longer and some popular projects go fast.
Once you have been selected to volunteer, you will have to sign a volunteer agreement binding you to the BLM with the conditions that have been agreed upon. Then you just need to show up ready to work!
Did You Know? The BLM protects, controls and manages more than 40,000 wild horses and burros roaming in ten states.
The BLM also gives an incentive to its volunteers by offering them something called a volunteer pass known as “America the Beautiful.” After volunteers have put in 500 hours of volunteer time, they will receive a volunteer pass that grants them free entrance and basic amenities for one year to all parks managed by the Department of the Interior. The pass is good for parks run by the NPS, USFWS, USFS, USDS FS and the Bureau of Reclamation.
Find the latest job openings with the Bureau of Land Management in the JobMonkey Job Center. New jobs are posted all the time!
- The BLM relies on over 20,000 volunteers every year to help them manage lands.
- Volunteers perform almost every kind of duty from documenting research data to cleaning out streams.
- Often housing and food is provided, and any expenses that are not provided can be a tax write-off.
- Some volunteers get college credit for their service.
- The BLM offers a nice reward to those who put in over 500 hours of service. Those volunteers will receive a free pass to all our nation’s parks and protected areas managed by the Department of Interior.