Recreation area looking for help

New revenue has minimal impact on hiring decisions
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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Park aide applications are available to anyone 18 or older at 501 El Dorado Street in Auburn or online at

Revenues are up at Auburn State Recreation Area this year, but seasonal hiring will remain steady.

The park started accepting applications for seasonal park aide positions last week, but despite several recent fee increases that banked about $55,000 from July through December, added labor is not a sure thing.

Supervising park ranger Scott Liske said he usually staffs about 25 people, most working on weekends, some full-time but most-part time from mid-May to mid-September. He intends to staff about the same number of positions this year, including up to three new part-time employees and possibly a few more hours, because most of last year’s staff is returning.

“I never really know how many I’m going to hire until I get much closer to the first part of May … My hope is to have the Confluence staffed most days of the week during the daytime this summer with seasonal employees,” he said. “Last year, I had a person down there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday … helping people park and to help deter the auto burglaries. I think it was quite successful. I know it was quite successful, so I would like to increase that coverage to as many days of the week as possible to prevent as many car break-ins as possible.”

Park aides must be 18 or older and work up to 1,500 hours a year at $10 an hour with no benefits, primarily to help at the campgrounds, collect day fees and provide information. Some also continue working through end of the year on trail work or maintenance projects in the fall when the park is less busy. Liske said those positions require no prior experience, but the park has hired a more professional position as well.

“We also have one more ranger position filled this year, and that ranger came from one of the parks that was turned over to concessionaires to run, so I have four field rangers this summer for the first time in about three years. Four is still on the low end. It would be great to have five field rangers,” he said. “Because of the revenue brought in, it’s not (necessarily) going to allow us to bring on one or two more permanent ranger positions. It doesn’t pencil out that way. Most of the hiring that we do is seasonal. It’s much harder to increase the number of permanent positions you have.”

Many visitors to the Confluence area have expressed their frustration at new $10 “day use” fees over the past eight months. Park administration has argued the Confluence is just the latest of several park areas to charge a fee, and the revenue bump will be a necessary savings in the long run.

In addition to fewer vehicle break-ins in the parking lot, Liske said the fees will lead to ongoing improvements to trails and facilities. He insisted the park is not “swimming in money” just because of a little extra income, but it might one day be swimming in something else – he said the possibility of a dam project on the American River has delayed many long-term investments.

“(The new fee) allows us to update trail signage, it allows us to put in a better, more permanent type of restroom, it allows us to make improvements to the common areas like a staging area or a day use area, we could put in park information panels, interpretive panels, we could do trail work,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that Auburn has not done in years because of the fact that someday it could all be underwater, if the Auburn dam was built. I’m not saying that that’s happening, but it’s still an authorized construction project, it’s just not a funded construction project. Here’s a park that has a million visitors a year, but there’s no running water or electricity in the park other than my office.”