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Folsom Lake Trail Patrol continues to make presence felt

By: Scott Thomas Anderson, The Press Tribune
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The sight of uniformed, horse-mounted scouts has been common along the trails and shorelines of Folsom Lake for more than three decades — despite the fact that few people know who the men and women of this detachment actually are.

The Folsom Lake Trail Patrol was created to be a volunteer group that would help monitor 70 miles of brushy, rocky pathways that weave around one of the pristine lakes in the region. It has since helped search for missing hikers, provided first aid and CPR to injured lake-goers and reported countless instances of illegal activities happening inside Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.

On Aug. 25, residents can chat with the Folsom Lake Trail Patrol in person as they drop off e-waste during the organization’s fundraiser at from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Granite Bay Village parking lot at the corner of Auburn Folsom Road and Douglas Boulevard.

The initial concept behind the Folsom Lake Patrol was to use experienced, volunteer horse riders from to bolster the capabilities of park rangers.

“One of the main ideas was to help keep an eye in the remote areas of the park, especially the trails and areas that rangers can’t easily get to,” said founding member Ray Santana. “Primarily, we see ourselves as a security valve. One of the main goals is to be the eyes and ears of the rangers.”

The group coordinates its efforts closely with Park Ranger Sarah Morgan, a law enforcement officer employed by the state. Morgan has been impressed by just how much training the volunteers are willing to go through to provide a civic service.

“They are very dedicated,” Morgan observed. “Joining is a long process that includes training, getting their horses qualified, taking various examines, passing a background test and showing up to regular meetings.”

Morgan added that Folsom Lake Trail Patrol has not only been an asset to rangers, but to the maintenance staff and general employees of the park.

“They put in thousands of hours providing extra safety,” she said.

For member Leslie Bisharat, the recent experience of getting lost on a trip to Phoenix served as a reminder of why she values her own role on the Folsom Lake Trail Patrol. “I think a lot of what we do, and what most uniformed volunteers do, is act as a comforting presence,” said Bisharat, recalling the volunteer who had approached her in Phoenix to offer assistance. “It’s nice to be able to have access to people who know the lay of the land, or, in our case, have a lot of knowledge about a resource. When the public knows help is nearby in the area, it puts people at ease.”

The Folsom Lake Trail Patrol pays for its own uniforms and all of the associated horse expenses. According to many members, the only reward besides taking part in a community service is riding through the rugged, picturesque landscape of the park. A love for the lake’s nature beauty is why the patrol chose to do its upcoming e-waste fundraiser.

“I may not own the park,” Bisharat reflected, “but I feel I have a stake in it.”

Anyone interested in joining the Folsom Lake Trail Patrol should contact Folsom State Recreation Area interpretive specialist Terri Lopez at (916) 988-0205.

Scott Thomas Anderson can be contacted at Scotta@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at ScottA_RsvPT.

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E-waste wanted

What: Folsom Lake Trail Patrol’s e-waste fundraiser
When: Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Granite Bay Village parking lot at the corner of Auburn Folsom Road and Douglas Boulevard
Info: (916) 663-9278