Ragged Robin Conservation Group - a Richmond-based group
of Dales Volunteers - work on a flagged path at Worton
THE valuable support that Volunteers provide to the National Park Authority has been formally praised at a recent meeting.
Authority members applauded the work that more than two hundred volunteers carry out in the Yorkshire Dales every year.
Members were clearly very impressed by the scale and range of work that Dales Volunteers do. Their activities include all the 'usual' things countryside volunteers undertake - surveying and repairing public paths, acting as, or assisting walk leaders to provide an interpretive events programme, and advising the public on open access land.
However, Dales Volunteers also get involved in an enormous variety of other activities, from cataloguing and conserving artefacts at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, to supporting the RSPB's 'Aren't Birds Brilliant' Peregrine Watch at Malham, to monitoring the condition of archaeological sites, green lanes, barns and tree-planting schemes.
They also continue to assess the range of the red squirrel population and repair walls on nature conservation sites, directly supporting specialist officers within the Authority.
This year, for the first time, Dales Volunteers will be carrying out hedgerow surveys, identifying locally distinctive features, setting up geocaches and geo-trails, and working to support the newly adopted 'Your Dales Rocks' geodiversity action plan for the Dales and western North Yorkshire. In fact, this last project is being led by a Dales Volunteer.
And just to show that volunteers bring something 'extra', the IT elements of two projects - the path surveying software and red squirrel project database - have been developed entirely by volunteers for the Authority's use.
Recreation Management Member Champion Malcolm Petyt said, "Our volunteers are a remarkable resource and I think few of us appreciate how much they do. We are fortunate to have so many people inspired to work for this beautiful area and are really grateful to them.
"Over two hundred Dales Volunteers give their time as 'payback' for all the personal enjoyment they have had from this wonderful area. They help us keep the Yorkshire Dales special and help visitors to understand and enjoy it too."
In 2006/07, Dales Volunteers and casual volunteers gave 4,942 days.