Park rangers frequently work in concert with volunteers to provide park visitors with an enriching experience. One stellar volunteer is Californian Ron Kraus who has been active at Placerita Canyon State Park since he hiked there as a boy. Kraus is president of the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates (PCNCA)—a group of more than 100 volunteers who organize events and hikes at the park. Placerita Canyon is located in the San Gabriel Mountains southeast of Santa Clarita.
To thank him for his service, Los Angeles County park ranger Frank Hoffman named Kraus as an honorary park ranger at a luncheon in June 2015. This volunteer was previously honored as a Los Angeles County Volunteer of the Year that same year.
Kraus started his volunteer work at the park in 2002 while he worked with the L.A. City Parks Department. As a born leader, he quickly assumed a leadership role with the PCNCA—arranging lectures, leading hikes, and coordinating the guide training program. He increased his involvement in the park once he retired from his formal job.
The PCNCA’s volunteers are integral to many programs that augment the work of the county’s park rangers. Guides for the park lead walks that feature nature, birds, and wildflowers. They also travel to schools to make presentations on the Tataviam Indians to the schoolchildren. More than 25 animals call the Placerita Canyon Nature Center home, and they are featured in animal education programs for junior rangers, school outreaches, and even a reptile club.
Placerita Canyon State Park serves a dual role of conserving chaparral, oak woodland, and riparian plant communities and educating the public on the value of such undisturbed habitats. The park is also a major part of California’s history and features the site of the original gold discovery in California in 1842.
In addition to his knowledge of the park’s flora and fauna, Kraus is also highly knowledgeable about the human history of the park. It appears that this honor could not go to a better person.