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Open Space Volunteer

Ways to volunteer with Open Space

Check our events calendar for upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Trail Watch Adopt an Open Space Foothills Spring Cleanups National River Clean Up National Trails Day Dia Del Rio Make a Difference Day Open Space Visitor Center Volunteers

Trail Watch Volunteer Program

Trail Watch Volunteers are the foundation of the volunteer program. Trail Watch is ideal for those volunteers who enjoy using the trails. Often referred to as Open Space "eyes and ears," these volunteers patrol areas of their choice and record observations, report problems and needs, and educate the public on proper resource use.

One ABQ Volunteer website banner


The Shackley's, who are Trail Watch Volunteers Adopt a new Trail.

Trail Watch Volunteers:

  • Report observations such as flora and wildlife sightings and visitor activities
  • Notify the Division of maintenance needs and law enforcement issues
  • Educate and guide the public to be stewards of our environment
  • Assist with conservation projects

Getting Started

All volunteers attend a two-hour orientation which provides background on the Open Space Division and discusses volunteer responsibilities. Trail Watch volunteers are required to contribute a minimum of 25 hours per year and complete two additional trainings or attend two programs of the individual's choice. After completion of 25 hours, volunteers receive an official Open Space Volunteer t-shirt or ball cap.

Required Background Screening: The City must take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of everyone in our parks and Open Spaces, including park users, volunteers and City employees. Therefore, we require all volunteers with the City of Albuquerque to be screened by the City (background check) to determine their suitability to participate in City programs. Volunteers with convictions or pending charges will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and will be considered for a volunteer position if they do not pose a threat to the public or vulnerable populations.

Adopt an Open Space

This program was formed to concentrate stewardship in a targeted area. Trail Watch Volunteer training and duties are required, and adopters also agree to organize at least one group project per year. Some areas may require more scheduled projects within a year. In the foothills, individuals or groups can adopt trails and assist with the essential maintenance of these visitor corridors. In the Bosque, groups of 10 or more can adopt restoration areas and help with non-native plant control, trash clean up and trail maintenance. At the City's expense, a sign is installed in the adopted area recognizing the adopters' efforts.

For more information about the Trail Watch and Adopt programs please contact Volunteer Program Coordinator Jenny Blackmore, [email protected].

April: Foothills Spring Cleanups

Join the Open Space Division in a Spring cleanup of your favorite Foothills Open Space area! Each Saturday during April we will be getting together at a different Foothills parking area for a variety of grooming projects such as graffiti removal, trash cleanup or trail maintenance.

Come out and meet Open Space representatives, neighbors and fellow trail users. Have some fun and show your support for the Sandia Foothills!

To sign up for the individual events please visit One Albuquerque Volunteers.

May: National River Cleanup

National River Cleanup takes place on the 3rd Saturday of May each year.

Roll up your sleeves and join us for this morning of community service! There are projects for all ages and abilities, including trash pick-up, trail construction and rehabilitation, and revegetation. National River Cleanup was started in 1991 by America Outdoors, a national association of outfitters and guides, and American Rivers, a North American conservation organization, as a way to assist local communities to keep their rivers, watersheds and shorelines clean. There are three ways to participate:

  1. Community cleanup at the Central Avenue bridge. Parking is limited, so please carpool if possible. Volunteers should dress for working outdoors and bring water, a hat, work gloves, and sunscreen.
  2. Organize your own Bosque clean-up. If you have a favorite area of the Bosque, consider hosting a clean-up of your own! Open Space will provide trash bags.
  3. Clean the river using your own boat. You must provide your own transportation and shuttle for your boat. Visit for required NM State Parks Boating safety regulations.

Volunteers can register for the event at One Albuquerque Volunteers.

June: National Trails Day

National Trails Day is the first weekend in June each year.

Volunteers work on over 10 different conservation projects, including land restoration, trail maintenance, and new trail construction on the Open Space trail systems at Elena Gallegos. There will be activities for all ages and fitness levels. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Please see our events page to learn about National Trails Day and to learn about more opportunities to get out and enjoy your favorite Open Space area.

At the end of the event, we reward our volunteers with a free lunch and lots of prizes donated by our generous sponsors!

National Trails Day is considered the largest and most influential trails celebration in the country. The American Hiking Society helps citizens organize hundreds of trails projects throughout the country to serve three main purposes:

  1. Educate the public on the importance of trails and their conservation
  2. Strengthen alliances of different agencies that work together beyond National Trails Day.
  3. Create new trail advocates.

October: Dia Del Rio

Join the Open Space Division and other local organizations for a variety of conservation projects that nurture and protect the Bosque and river, including trail work, re-vegetation, and trash clean up. There will be activities appropriate for all ages.

Annual Día del Río:  A Celebration of the Rio Grande

Dia del Rio takes place on the third Saturday each year in October.

The location of the event changes each year depending on areas that need restoration work.

Check our calendar of events for details.

Activities During the Dia del Rio Event

  • A variety of conservation activities such as revegetation, trail work, and trash pickup.
  • There will be activities appropriate for all ages, from trail work to trash pickup.

At the end of the event, make sure to stick around for a fabulous prize drawing!

Organize Your Own Bosque Cleanup

Do you live near the Bosque? Or do you have a favorite area near the river? Organize your own clean up the day of the event. Open Space will provide trash bags and haul off the collected trash.

October: Make a Difference Day

Make a Difference Day is a national day of community service held annually on the fourth Saturday in October. Each year volunteers throughout Albuquerque work to help improve the quality of life in our community through service projects.

The City of Albuquerque Space Division and the Open Space Alliance participate in Make a Difference Day by organizing a variety of conservation activities that take place at the Piedra Lisa Open Space located near the east end of Candelaria.

Projects include trail maintenance, trash cleanup, graffiti removal, etc. Trail tools are provided. Volunteers should dress in layers, wear sun protection and sturdy footwear, and bring work gloves.

For more information about Make a Difference Day please email Jim Sattler, [email protected], 505-768-4203.

Open Space Visitor Center Volunteers

Open Space Visitor Center Volunteers are trained to:

  • Greet visitors and tell them about the Visitor Center
  • Introduce visitors to changing educational and art exhibits
  • Work in the demonstration gardens
  • Assist with programming and events
  • Describe the history, purpose and goals of the Open Space program
  • Encourage visitors to explore Open Space lands
  • Observe and interpret the Visitor Center's wildlife and plants
  • Learn and share: The geography of the Open Space system, the history of the Piedras Marcadas Pueblo Village, the natural and human history of the Middle Rio Grande Valley


  • "I became a volunteer because I enjoy the atmosphere at the Visitor Center."
  • "The staff gives me the freedom to see a need, make a plan, and create a solution! Something I couldn't do in my paid job."
  • "I keep coming back - the community of Open Space is a definite positive in my life."
  • "The Open Space Visitor Center is a magical place."

To learn more about volunteering at the OSVC, please contact Visitor Center Manager Dionne Epps, [email protected].