The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is pleased to share our revised draft of DCR’s Volunteers in Parks Program Guide as a first step in our upcoming public review process. DCR’s Volunteers in Parks Program Guide reflects the Commonwealth’s commitment to encouraging public involvement in the protection and care of our natural, cultural, and recreational resources and aims to engage volunteers and nonprofit organizations in the stewardship of these special landscapes and facilities.

Guided by passage of An Act Relative to Volunteers at State Parks, which was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick and is codified in MGL c. 21, § 17G, DCR’s Volunteers in Parks Program not only encourages volunteerism, but also establishes new guidelines for extending liability protections to volunteers and nonprofit organizations engaged in activities that support and promote DCR's mission and our parks system.

At this time, we are making a copy of the draft Volunteers in Parks Program Guide available to the public by visiting the following link: Draft Volunteer in Parks Program Guide pdf format of Volunteer in Parks Program Guide file size 1MB  DCR will also be seeking public input through a series of public meetings and a subsequent 30-day public comment period. Public meeting dates and locations will be announced soon.

DCR is proud of our role as the primary steward of the resources under our care and our mission to conserve these resources for the use and enjoyment of our residents and visitors. As an agency, we also recognize the value added by our volunteers and the role that they can play in our efforts to “protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources for the well-being of all.” As such, DCR is committed to welcoming, facilitating, and safely involving volunteers in the stewardship of our parks and forests.

With this goal in mind, DCR’s draft Volunteers in Parks Program Guide seeks to accomplish several important objectives:

  • Establish procedures for effective communication between volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and agency staff.
  • Create a thorough, effective, and streamlined process for proposing and reviewing volunteer initiatives on DCR property.
  • Offer liability protection to volunteers who perform activities on DCR lands that are consistent with and in accordance with the Program Guide and MGL c. 21, § 17G.
  • Establish new and improved protocols to document volunteer contributions.

DCR believes that this updated and revised draft will help to facilitate safe and effective volunteer experiences while ensuring that park resources benefit both from the inspiration of volunteers and the professional stewardship of DCR staff.

We hope you will take a moment to read our draft and that you will join us at one of our upcoming public meetings. As always, we appreciate your input and contributions to our parks system and look forward to continued partnership opportunities.