Jefferson Award Winner Founded Park PatrolBy Sharon Chin

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) Under the towering redwood trees in Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park, Gabriel Robbins whizzes by on his tricked out mountain bike. The Bay Area resident says the park feels more like his own back yard.

“There’s no litter out here,” observed Robbins as other cyclists passed by. “It’s always freshly maintained.”

READ MORE: Glide Church Co-Founder, Poet and San Francisco Activist Janice Mirikitani Dies at Age 80

That pristine ‘backyard feel’ is largely due to the efforts of Stan Dodson, founder of Park Patrol, a 60-person volunteer program that operates within Dodson’s eight year old non-profit, Oakland Trails. Park Patrol partners with other community groups and the city of Oakland to maintain and improve three wildland parks, Joaquin Miller, Dimond Canyon, and Leona Heights.

Dodson has trained Park Patrol volunteers for a variety of roles. Volunteers re-route trails, improve trail drainage, and welcome park visitors.

On one typical afternoon, Dodson guided volunteers Chris Cook and Evan Meagher, as the trio worked to install a post to keep people on the trail and away from the rare Pallid Manzanita plant. Both men say volunteering with Park Patrol has provided a way to meet other Oakland residents, and they credit Dodson for getting the community involved.

READ MORE: VTA Providing Free Bus Rides in Santa Clara County to Cover Light-Rail Routes

“He’s a role model for all of us,” said Cook. “He’s committed himself to making this the best park it can be for the community.”

Dodson has also produced two documentaries that showcase Oakland’s wildland parks.

“It’s really become a force for keeping the trails in good shape, just really inspiring to see. It gives me a chance to recharge my batteries,” said Dodson. “Every hiking tour, there was someone who’d say, ‘I’ve lived in this neighborhood for twenty years and had no idea I was connected to these trails in my own backyard.'”

Park Patrol responds to problems along the trail through the SeeClickFix Oakland app . The organization updates the city of Oakland on its work using the ‘Adopt a Spot‘ volunteer program. Dodson raises money through business and corporate donations to pay for tools and materials volunteers use.

MORE NEWS: Alameda Police Seek Suspects in Violent Tuesday-Night Carjacking

So for creating a nonprofit that maintains and promotes Oakland’s wildland parks, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Stan Dodson.