Martin Steinpress | Volunteer of the Month (April 2020)

Martin Steinpress

Interviewed by Roxana Lucero, Land Stewardship Associate

About Martin

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?

Since 1991; 23 years in the Walnut Creek Northgate area and now six in Concord’s Crystyl Ranch.

How did you learn about Save Mount Diablo?

One can’t live and recreate at the foot of Mount Diablo without seeing and reading about the great work that SMD does to preserve and add to our precious parks and open spaces. I have been an SMD fan since I moved here.

What did you do before you started volunteering for us?

I am a geologist and hydrogeologist (groundwater scientist) by training and was an environmental consultant for the last 30 years. It was a wonderful career that allowed me to travel and study many great terrains (geologic mapping was my favorite activity). I just retired in early April!

How long have you been volunteering with us?

I have only been actively involved for the last five years, but I participated in the Mount Diablo Challenge cycling event for many years too. I also volunteer with five other open space organizations in the East Bay and on the Mendocino coast.

What were your reasons for getting involved with SMD?

I wanted to take personal responsibility for a small piece of the mountain and help SMD with other preservation and restoration efforts. And I always try to take advantage of opportunities to get outdoors.

About Martin’s Work

Which SMD programs are you involved in?

I am a steward for the Mangini Ranch property and help periodically on some other restoration and cleanup efforts.

What does your volunteer work consist of and what do you like about it?

At least once a month, one of the stewards needs to walk the property, looking for such issues as trespassing, encroachments, invasive plant species, wildlife, and needed maintenance. Our monthly reports are critical to SMD’s management of the properties—we are their eyes and ears.

What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on while volunteering?

I once had a property neighbor threaten to shoot me for trespassing (on SMD property!). More recently during the shelter-in-place, I discovered some teenagers had set up a clubhouse in an old shed on an SMD property. With the potential for rattlesnakes, poison oak, and other injuries (not to mention lack of social distancing), this was clearly risky for the teenagers and a potential liability for SMD. SMD staff sprang into action and took care of the issue promptly.

What is an especially memorable experience you’ve had as an SMD volunteer?

I hesitate to tell, for fear of competition for future opportunities! But what I love most is SMD’s annual BioBlitz, an event that focuses on finding, identifying, and counting as many plant and animal species as possible in a specific area over a weekend. I always volunteer to roam the area with first aid supplies (I am Red Cross–certified) and water, and to sweep the area at the end of the day. As an amateur naturalist, I especially like getting to shadow and chat up a wide range of highly specialized scientists identifying such things as rare wildflowers, native and invasive plant species, snakes, birds, and you name it. It is a great learning opportunity and a fun day seeing some new terrain.

Join Our Volunteer Crew! We Depend on You!

Given limited staff, resources, and time, Save Mount Diablo depends on volunteers to take organizational effectiveness from excellent to exceptional. Save Mount Diablo seeks to connect a passionate community to our mission, cultivating a sense of ownership and proficiency in every volunteer position offered. Whether you want to help with restoration and stewardship, build and maintain trails, help with events, assist in the office, lead hikes, or advocate for us, there’s a place for you. For more information, check out Save Mount Diablo’s volunteer opportunities.


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