Keith Boden suits up in a lightweight long sleeve shirt, pants, and hiking boots. In his pack, he carries food and water and camera equipment, which can sometimes weigh up to 40 pounds. It is not typical trail running gear, but Boden is not an ordinary runner. The former special agent for the IRS quickly became the most productive volunteer in California’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by trail running.

“I’m type A, high energy, can’t sit still, can’t stand being indoors,” Boden says. “This [project] just screamed to me—it was everything I wanted.”

Boden was looking for a change when he retired from the government agency at 52. He was eating a veggie burger at the Habit near his home in Thousand Oaks, California, when he met a National Park Service (NPS) employee who was the park’s volunteer coordinator. Shortly after their meeting, Boden resigned to retire and signed up for a part-time volunteer position.

The Springs Fire Wildlife Project uses motion sensor cameras to monitor how wildlife uses the landscape after a notable 2013 wildfire burned 24,238 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles. With the images gathered, the Park Service hopes to better understand the response of wildlife in the burn areas compared to areas that were not affected by the fire.

Read the full story online at REI Co-op Journal.

Photos courtesy of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Monica Prelle © 2023 All Rights Reserved