David Heuer

Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner

OC Community Resources
OC Parks, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Laguna Canyon Foundation Volunteer

David Heuer

ACTION: What does the volunteer do?

Two years ago, David Heuer began his Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer odyssey at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. No job is too difficult for David, who has volunteered more than 950 hours as a naturalist, tour leader, backcountry trail crew/volunteer, stewardship project leader, and more.

NEED: What community need does the volunteer address?

Most weeks, David volunteers his time leading interpretive and fitness hikes, removing invasive plants, restoring trails as a trail maintenance crew leader, and providing resources, information and emergency response for park visitors as a backcountry volunteer. Even on days that David hikes for his own enjoyment, he never misses an opportunity to groom trails, pick up trash, and interact with the public.

David helps coordinate special activities, including a recent project that involves the monitoring and cleaning out of wildlife guzzlers within the park. The guzzlers are positioned to safely move mammals through corridors created under the road. In addition, he leads corporate hikes and supervises crews that eradicate non-native invasive species during Laguna Coast Wilderness Park’s “Keep it Wild” days.

IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteer's service?

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining wild coastal canyons in Southern California. The park’s ecosystem is primarily Coastal Sage Scrub, with Maritime Chaparral, Oak Woodlands, Riparian habitats and Native Valley Grassland. The area includes the only natural lakes in Orange County. Currently, the park is enrolled in the Natural Community Conservation Planning Program designed to protect various endangered, rare, and threatened species by preserving large tracts of rapidly diminishing coastal sage ecosystem. Protected species in the area include the California Gnatcatcher, Coastal Cactus Wren, Orange-Throated Whiptail and Laguna Beach Dudleya.

With a staff of seven, 50,000 visitors each year, and a reach of 7,000 acres, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park depends heavily on volunteers to accomplish numerous goals and objectives. Through his exceptional leadership skills and extensive experience, David stands out as a natural leader within the park’s volunteer team. Staff rely on his ability to work effectively with a broad range of volunteers to help preserve the wilderness area, restore habitat and trails and educate the public.

David has had a direct impact on the safety of park trails. His hard work and diligence has resulted in the clearing and repair of 12.75 miles of trail. He has piled rocks to build up slopes, dug deep into hardened soil, and carried heavy railroad ties to create water bars and berms.

As a wilderness access volunteer, David welcomes hundreds of visitors to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, provides directions, answers questions, and instructs the public in trail safety.

David leads volunteer teams in removing acres of non-native, invasive plants, replacing them with native species. Restoration projects such as this provide habitat for native animals in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, resulting in an increase in local wildlife.

INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteer unique/special?

David is passionate about protecting native wilderness areas and wildlife, and he enthusiastically shares this passion with the community. Friendly, dependable, talented, informed, humble, and hard-working are just a few of David’s qualities. He is an outstanding leader who inspires others to get involved. He truly epitomizes the importance and value of volunteer involvement within Orange County’s wilderness areas. David’s support of the Laguna Canyon Foundation and the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is greatly appreciated and worthy of our thanks and recognition.


David has volunteered at the Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park since 2007, and over the past two years, he has contributed more than 950 hours of service.

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