Ben Lomond Conservation Camp #45

Ben Lomond logo

Contact Info

13575 Empire Grade Road, Santa Cruz Ca, 95060
PH: (831) 423-1652

CAL FIRE PH: (831) 423-1610

CDCR Camp Staff

  • D. Mendonca, Lt.


  • A. Gonzalez, Division Chief

Facts and figures

Total Staff (CDCR) 2016: 9
Total Staffing (CAL-FIRE/LAC): N/A
Total # Inmates: 101

Camp Products

Slated for future Vocation Auto body
Mechanic Shop

Community service projects

  1. Fuel Reduction
  2. Burning Debris
  3. Fuel Breaks
  4. Restoring hiking trails/ water streams/ remove drift wood from beaches

Camp History

Ben Lomond Conservation Camp is located in the mountains of Santa Cruz County, approximately 12 miles from the town of Santa Cruz.

The camp is staffed with seven Correctional Officers, one Correctional Sergeant and one Camp Commander, a Correctional Lieutenant. CALFIRE staff includes a Division Chief, one Office Technician, Ten Fire Captains and one Water Tech Specialist.

Inmates committed to CDCR are selected and trained at the California Correctional Center in Susanville, California to determine their eligibility for camp. Once training is completed, eligible inmates are transported to Ben Lomond Camp. The camp houses a maximum of 113 inmates, all of whom are minimum custody male felon convicts. This population allows for five 17-man fire crews. The remaining inmates are employed by the camp as kitchen workers, porters, landscapers, launderers, clerks, mechanics, and maintenance and other support activity workers. Typically, inmates serve the last nine months of their sentence at camp, but some may serve several years of their sentence. In order to be eligible for camp, inmates cannot have any convictions for sex-related offenses, arson, escape or have a high violence potential. Most of the inmates are serving time for alcohol or drug offenses or property crimes.

Inmates are paid for their work, allowing them to have some savings accrued when they are released back into the community. Because the first six months are critical to a new parolee’s success, this savings can contribute to the lowering of convicts re-offending and being sent back to state prison. Most workers in camp earn $2.67 per day. Skilled inmates (mechanics, clerks, cooks, plumbers, welders, carpenters, electricians) can earn up to $3.56 per day. Inmate firefighters earn between $2.90 and $3.90 per day on regular assignments and $1.00 per hour on emergency assignments..

When in camp, inmates may purchase items from the Camp Canteen such as cosmetics, snacks and correspondence materials. There is a hobby craft program, a TV room, a game and exercise area, weight pile, running track, basketball and handball courts available to the inmates during off-duty hours. Visiting for family and friends is conducted on Saturdays and Sundays. Families bring lunches and barbecue facilities are available. Community volunteers provide spiritual and religious services. Inmates are aware of the opportunities and relative freedom afforded to them in a camp setting that are absent in prison and as a result conduct themselves accordingly. Inmates can take part in the General Education Diploma (GED) program as well as college course through the correspondence program through the prison. Both CDCR and CALFIRE provide ongoing training and feedback for inmates, including job performance evaluations.

Inmates are housed in an open-dormitory setting, with a dining hall staffed by inmates and supervised by correctional staff. CDCR supervision is provided 24 hours daily. All units are subject to ongoing inspections and must comply with standards set by the State Department of Health Services.

Ben Lomond Conservation Camp provides Santa Cruz and neighboring counties with tens of thousands of hours of community service annually. Crews suppress fire, clear streams, improve trails and levees, and assist in rescues, floods and landslides. They are an ongoing and consistently available resource to help local authorities when called upon. The camp is succeeding in its mission of improving the safety and quality of life for all state residents, while at the same time providing inmates a rehabilitative environment in which to develop skills and discipline needed to become successful contributors to society.