This September, the Volunteer-In-Parks (VIP) Program at Everglades National Park collaborated with the park’s Law Enforcement Division to launch their very first volunteer bicycle patrol program, the Mobile Volunteer Patrol (MVP), in the Shark Valley district.
Shark Valley is one of the premiere visitation areas in the Park, boasting a magnificent 15-mile Tram Trail. This looping trail takes park visitors on an adventure through the heart of the Everglades and out to an impressive observation tower, exposing them to scenic vistas and diverse wildlife. Park visitors enjoy this trail by participating in a guided tram tour, walking or biking the loop.
A newly established bicycle patrol program, the Mobile Volunteer Patrol, will help to enhance the safety of park visitors and resources along the Tram Trail. Volunteers will bicycle the loop, under the supervision of the Law Enforcement Division, to monitor the safety of visitors and help to provide information about park resources.
The first MVP training session for new volunteers was held on September 17th at Shark Valley and the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. 13 individuals participated in the all-day event, which included an orientation bike ride, role playing and scenarios, and informational sessions on topics including: volunteer duties, park policies and radio operations.
So far, the program is off to a great start! Volunteers have started to patrol the loop several days per week, in groups of two or more. The Patrol has created a presence in Shark Valley, assisting exhausted bikers to catch a ride on the Tram, helping to free locked bicycles, and calling in medical assistance when needed.
Next time you visit Shark Valley, look out for our MVP volunteers in yellow helmets and jerseys!