The Backcountry Trails Program was established in 1979, as a special program within the California Conservation Corps, the oldest and largest conservation corps program in the world. The Backcountry Trails Program is also part of AmeriCorps and thus our members are part of a national service movement that focuses on environmental conservation.
A proud tradition of excellence and conservation has been forged by the many members who have played a vital role helping to build, maintain and repair trails in some of California's most magnificent wilderness areas.
Each spring, the Backcountry Trails Program assembles six crews of men and women, from widely diverse backgrounds, who leave behind the conveniences and luxuries of modern life and venture into the mountains to spend five exhausting months doing some of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding work of their lives. The 13-17 members who comprise each of these crews learn through experience the skills of trail maintenance, construction, and the process of building healthy productive communities.
The Backcountry Trails Program is dedicated to preserving our remaining wilderness areas, making them safer and more accessible to the public through hard work and national service.
We are committed to building strong functional communities based on respect, sobriety, cooperation, and the tireless effort of each member.
Past Backcountry members cite the following as the five essential ingredients for success:
- Ability to get along and work cooperatively with others
- Desire, self-motivation
- Enthusiasm for hard work
- Ability to remain sober
- Desire to live in and explore remote wilderness areas
Life in the Backcountry is extremely physically and mentally demanding. Crews live for five months in remote wilderness camps with few luxuries. Participants are required to hike at high elevations from 2-20 miles per day at a minimum of 3 mph. Crews are assigned to log, brush, build new tread, clean water bars and other drainage structures, reroute trails around fragile areas, repair damaged meadows, build and repair bridges and build water bars, steps, rip rap, retaining walls and causeways out of rock, wood and other native materials.
Due to the rigid structure of our program and the many rules and policies we have in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our crews it is important to note that there is very little unsupervised time while in the program.
Backcountry camps can be located up to 30 miles from the nearest road, store, phone or electrical outlet. Camps can be established at elevations up to 11,000 feet and conditions are spartan. The food is generally great and delivered by mules or helicopter once a week, along with mail and other supplies. For most, learning how to maintain a healthy and productive community life is the most challenging aspect of the program. Given the diversity of our crew members, it is essential that every member of the crew learn that building a functional community demands that everyone have integrity, treat each other with great respect, consideration, and have an open mind to the ideas and feelings of others. Due to the remoteness and isolation of our crews the main method of contact with friends and family on the outside is via mail.
For most, learning how to maintain a healthy and productive community life is the most challenging aspect of the program. Maturity and the ability to communicate and resolve conflict respectfully are of the utmost importance. Given the diversity of our crew members, it is essential that every member of the crew learn that building a functional community demands that everyone have integrity, treat each other with great respect and consideration, and have an open mind to the ideas and feelings of others.
You may be required to meet certain physical agility requirements including:
- 25 pushups in 2 minutes
- 50 sit-ups in 4 minutes
- A 3-mile hike within 1 hour carrying a minimum of 40 pounds.
In addition to the daily work requirements of each crew member there is an extensive curriculum that each crew will undertake during their five-month season. Participation in the curriculum is mandatory for our members and is part of the requirements to receive the AmeriCorps Education Award. The curriculum takes the form of evening classes and training sessions. Curriculum topics include native fauna and flora identification, natural history classes, wilderness survival training, career development training, community development meetings, and health and safety meetings. Crew members are encouraged to leave camps in groups of three or more on weekends to explore the rivers, lakes, peaks, forests and canyons that surround them and have become their "backyard."
Crew members are paid a taxable, monthly stipend of $1,392. There is a Standard Maintenance Deduction of $325/month that is taken from all crew members checks for the cost of food. Both the stipend and maintenance deduction are subject to change.
Health, dental and vision insurance is provided for all crew members.
Backcountry crew members who have not already received an equivalent of two full-time AmeriCorps Education Awards will receive a $2,675 Education Award upon successfully completing the Backcountry Trails Program.
The Backcountry Trails Program provides all non-CCC members with safety gear (hard hat, safety glasses, gloves), three sets of uniforms, as well as rain gear. In addition to this equipment members must supply their own backpacks, sleeping bags, daypacks and other personal items as outlined in our Personal Equipment List.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ELIGIBILITY:
Must be 18 years old as of 4/21/2013 and no older than 26 years old as of 4/21/2013.
Cannot be on probation or parole as of 4/21/2013.
Must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident or US National or have a Green Card.
Must be able to pass a drug test and State and Federal background checks upon being offered a Backcountry Trail Crew Member position.
Must have a current, working e-mail address to be considered.
You do NOT need to be a California resident.
- All members selected not only become Backcountry Trails Program crew members, but they are also considered part of the CCC and AmeriCorps and thus are subject to those program policies in addition to the Backcountry Trails Program policies.
- All members selected may be required to perform a physical fitness test at orientation that will test their ability to complete 25 pushups in 2 minutes, 50 sit-ups in 4 minutes and a 3-mile hike within 1 hour carrying a minimum of 40 pounds of your gear.
- Thoroughly consider your ability to deal with being isolated from your friends and family for five months with having mail as your main source of contact with the outside world. Also, consider that there may or may not be visitors allowed on your crew.
- The cost of the gear required and recommended for the Backcountry Trails Program generally runs at least $500 to $1000.
- The Backcountry Trails Program is an extremely structured and regimented program with many rules and policies. There is very little unsupervised time.
- The Backcountry Trails Program enforces a strict “Buddy System” policy, and therefore there is no hiking, exploring, swimming or backpacking alone while in our program. The only alone time our members get is when they are in the immediate vicinity of camp.
- Consider your ability live and work in primitive conditions and in all types of weather conditions and to live without modern technology like cell phones, computers, iPods, etc.
- Consider your current lifestyle, physical health and your ability to perform extremely physically demanding labor for eight-plus hours a day for five months.
- If you have any medical conditions and/or are taking medications you should consult your doctor about the rigors and conditions of our program before applying.
- We CANNOT accommodate a vegan diet or some special needs diets that are extremely restrictive by nature due to cost, logistics and supply availability constraints.
- Consider your desire and ability to remain sober for five months.
- We highly recommend obtaining a U.S. Passport if you are considering applying to our Program.
- February 22, 2013: All Application Packets due to the Backcountry Office by 5:00 p.m. For all Web-Hire and Military Veteran applications, we must receive both a hard copy and an email copy sent to the address below.
- March 14, 2013: All applicants will be notified of their selection and placement.
- April 21, 2013: Start of Season
- September 25, 2013: Last day of Season
If you are currently in the CCC, please pick up an application from your center staff. If one is not available, please print one from the link below.
If you are a U.S. Military Veteran, your application package must include a DD-214 with your discharge status and service time.
APPLICATION PACKAGE FINAL DEADLINE: 5:00pm, 2/22/2013.
If you are interested in applying for our 2013 Backcountry Trails Season you must submit a complete application package. The application package consists of the following items:
1) 2013 Backcountry Trails Application
2) Two, Reference Evaluation Forms
- If you are currently in the CCC your reference evaluations must be your current direct supervisor and a personal reference.
- If you are a Web-Hire applicant, include your most recent work reference.
These items must be submitted ALL TOGETHER to us by 5:00pm on 2/22/2013. Late or incomplete application packages will not be considered. Be sure you fully complete the application and that your references fully complete the Reference Evaluation Forms and turn them back to you. Do not have them send in any Reference Forms separately. If there is any missing information your application will not be considered. If you do not have a current, working email you will also not be considered.
If you are currently in the CCC, your center will send your applications to our office.
If you are a Web-Hire or Military Veteran applicant you must send your application package via mail and email to:
Mailing Address: Backcountry Trails Program, 1500 Alamar Way, Fortuna, CA 95540.
Once your application packet is received by us we may contact you via phone or email for a follow up interview. You will be notified of your status on or near 3/14/2013 via email. Unfortunately, due to the high number of applications we receive and staffing constraints this is the best way for us to notify applicants of their status.
REMINDER: You will not be considered if: 1) you do not have a current, working email, 2) you do not submit your application and 2 reference evaluation forms TOGETHER IN ONE PACKET, 3) any of your application or other material is incomplete or late, 4) you submit an old version of our application material.