As many of you know, we recently held our first inland Full Deployment Drill since the expansion of the OWCN’s mandate to cover all surface waters of the State. This was a unique experience that gave us some fresh insight into the challenges that face us when responding away from marine waters. As a follow-up, we sent out a survey to all OWCN responders asking a few questions about volunteering during inland response. We had over a hundred responses to the survey, and were pleased to learn that there is a strong desire in the Network to volunteer during inland response, despite the difficulties that come with responding in remote locations.
Notably, 75% of survey responses indicated people would be willing to volunteer for full day shifts instead of the usual 4 hour shift. This is important since it will be difficult to get many volunteers mobilized to more remote areas, and the willingness to work longer shifts means that we need fewer total volunteers each day. Additionally, we found that if we are able to provide accommodations and reimburse travel expenses, volunteer interest and availability increases dramatically. This is something that we will be taking into account when we plan for volunteers at future inland responses.
Finally, we read through all the comments, which were very helpful. Many of you are interested in more training on how to handle inland species, and many others had comments discussing how providing accommodations would really help – some were even willing to stay in tents during inland responses! Thank you to everyone who had a chance to respond to the survey, and know that this information is very valuable to us as we build our inland program.