Marin County Parks and Open Space Department

Environmental Stewardship Program

ESP members are self-motivated, independent individuals or groups who have a passion for being outdoors and taking care of the land. Whether you’re interested in maintaining a habitat restoration site, a trail, a playground, or an entire park or preserve, we will work with you to find a project that matches your skills and commitment. You may join an existing ESP group or even organize your own.  

You must complete a volunteer application and schedule an interview with staff. If you are a good fit with this program, you will be required to complete field training with staff or with a certified ESP volunteer.

If you want to learn more about Parks volunteer opportunities, contact Volunteer Coordinator Kirk Schroeder at or (415) 473-2823.

If you want to learn more about Open Space Distcrict volunteer opportunities, contact Volunteer Coordinator Greg Reza at or (415) 473-3778.

Parks Volunteer Opportunities

Civic Center ESPCivic Center Campus
Keeping the grounds around the Civic Center and Lagoon Park well maintained in a sustainable manner is important to us and the community. We are committed to implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs at all County parks and buildings. Successful IPM utilizes a mix of management practices and especially relies on physical labor. We need volunteers to help with hand weeding, sheeting mulching, and other grounds maintenance work.

Creekside ESPHal Brown Park at Creekside
Corte Madera Creek and the marshlands surrounding this popular community park are home to numerous species of wildlife. Park renovation construction will begin in the summer of 2010 and as part of this work, we will rehabilitate existing upland habitat to provide appropriate wildlife refuge and feeding opportunities. In preparation, the Marin Master Gardeners are propagating locally collected native seedlings. We need volunteers to help us and help the Friends of Corte Madera Creek with ongoing habitat restoration.

McInnis Park ESPMcInnis Park
This regional sports facility complex is surrounded by a gorgeous and vibrant natural setting that provides important creek and wetland habitat as well as a bounty of hiking, bird watching, walking, and kayaking opportunities. We need volunteers to support upland habitat restoration, landscaping and grounds maintenance, litter removal, and invasive, non-native plant removal projects.

McNears Beach Park ESPMcNears Beach Park
Located minutes from downtown San Rafael, McNear’s bayside beach setting, temperate climate, and bevy of amenities draw large spring and summer crowds. We need volunteers to support beach cleanup, facility improvement, and habitat restoration projects. There are opportunities to join existing community programs, to start your own ESP group, or to assist Park Rangers with everyday maintenance.

Mill Valley Sausalito Multi-use Path ESPMill Valley Sausalito Multi-use Path
This iconic stretch of path transports thousands of users from Mill Valley around Bothin Marsh Preserve to Sausalito. Intense recreational use in combination with tidal and creek influences cause a significant litter problem. Surrounding wetlands allow us a last chance to capture garbage before it moves into Richardson Bay and beyond. We need volunteers to support a variety of litter removal activities, including the annual Coastal Cleanup Day every September, other community volunteer days we sponsor throughout the year, or we can provide you with the tools you need to clean the path on your own.

Stafford Lake Park ESPStafford Lake Park
The watershed surrounding Stafford Lake supports a rich, expansive ecosystem. Over the last few years, volunteers successfully cleared an isolated but thick patch of French broom that crowded out native vegetation. We need volunteers for important follow-up maintenance work, which will be extensive and last for years to come.

Open Space Volunteer Opportunities

Bothin Marsh ESPBothin Marsh Preserve
Since 2007, we’ve partnered with local Girl Scouts, Save The Bay, and hundreds of community volunteers removing all invasive iceplant and installing over 1,500 native plants to restore native habitat for endangered species such as the California Clapper Rail and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. We need volunteers to regularly maintain restored habitat.

Horse Hill ESPHorse Hill Preserve
This tiny Mill Valley preserve, with small drainages and natural springs, is home to native wildlife and to horses. For years, we’ve worked with volunteers from the Alto Bowl Horseowners Association removing invasive, non-native French and Scotch broom, but a large infestation still remains. There is strength in numbers: we need more volunteers right now to control the existing population and prevent further expansion, though our ultimate goal is eradication.

King Mountain ESPKing Mountain Preserve
King Mountain embodies what open space is about: local lands conserved for intrinsic natural values and for passive recreation uses. It’s proximity to homes and to downtown Larkspur makes it a popular destination; protection from overuse is very important to us. We sponsor ongoing several habitat restoration and trail maintenance projects for all ages and abilities.

Mount Burdell ESPMount Burdell Preserve
Hidden Lake is a vernal pool located high on the slopes of Mount Burdell. At certain times of the year it is teeming with life including frogs, salamanders, and a number of rare plants such as coyote-thistle and Baker's navarretia. We need volunteers to remove invasive, non-native pennyroyal and Italian thistle so that this special and unique habitat remains intact and diverse.

Old Saint Hillary's ESPOld St. Hillary's Preserve
Since 1997, on the first Saturday of every month, the award-winning and truly dedicated Broom Busters of Old St. Hiliary’s ESP group has been protecting the slopes of this preserve from the spread of invasive, non-native plants. We need volunteers on an occasional Saturday or to join the amazing Broom Buster family.

Rick's ESPRick's Broom Patch
Volunteer Rick Thornton spearheaded the removal of a large infestation of French broom that had invaded the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Preserve. Though Rick passed away in 2005, we are committed to continuing his legacy. We need volunteers to partner with student groups and community members throughout the year to maintain the native habitat by hand pulling broom when it returns.

Ring Mountain ESPRing Mountain Preserve
Nowhere else on earth does the Tiburon Mariposa Lily grow except for the upper slopes of Ring Mountain. The unique geology and microclimate of its location provide a home for many rare plants. Volunteer efforts focus on protecting and preserving these precious species from invasive, non-native plants. We need volunteers every March to take part in our annual “Fling on Ring in the Spring” community volunteer day, adopt the freshwater marsh, or to become part of the team that pulls invasive star thistle.

Rush Creek ESPRush Creek Preserve
Rush Creek is home to the largest stand of blue oaks in all of Marin and is adjacent to a large system of tidal and seasonal marshlands fed by the Petaluma River. Our “Back to Bahia” habitat restoration projects have been really successful, but we need volunteers to continue removing non native, invasive French broom and tree-of-heaven until we achieve complete eradication.

Santa Venetia Marsh ESPSanta Venetia March Preserve
One of the Open Space District’s great success stories is the restoration work at Santa Venetia which involved hundreds of volunteers and the installation of over 14,000 native plants. Now that the initial restoration is finished, we need new volunteers to regularly maintain the natives, ensuring a healthy and diverse habitat for years to come.

Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide ESPTerra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide
The Open Space District implements IPM methods to control barbed goatgrass on the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Preserve. We use a combination of prescribed burning, mechanical and chemical controls, and hand removal to treat this B rated agricultural pest. We need volunteers on the second or third Saturday every May to take part in a community volunteer day to hand pull goatgrass.

White Hill ESPWhite Hill Preserve
Aggressive infestations of French and Scotch broom are invading from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard toward the interior of this pristine preserve. Volunteers have been successful in stalling the invasion but we need more help to gain ground and reduce the extent of the broom. The terrain is rugged and the underbrush is thick. It is perfect for those rugged individuals looking for a challenge.