Ben Lomond Conservation Camp #45
Ben Lomond Conservation Camp #45 is jointly operated by CDCR and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The camp’s primary mission is to improve the safety and quality of life for the people of Santa Cruz and all state residents, while providing incarcerated people a rehabilitative environment in which to develop skills and discipline needed to become successful contributors to society.
13575 Empire Grade Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
CDCR Camp Staff
- Lt. E. Hernandez, Camp Commander
- Sgt. F. Boe, Assistant Camp Commander
About Ben Lomond Conservation Camp #45
Ben Lomond Conservation Camp is located in the mountains of Santa Cruz County, approximately 12 miles from the town of Santa Cruz.
Ben Lomond 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.
Volunteers train at the California Correctional Center in Susanville to determine their eligibility for camp. Once training is complete, eligible participants move to Ben Lomond Camp. The camp houses a maximum of 113 participants, all of whom are minimum custody male felon convicts. This population allows for five 17-man fire crews. The remaining volunteers are kitchen workers, porters, landscapers, launderers, clerks, mechanics, and maintenance and other support activity workers. To be eligible, incarcerated volunteers cannot have any convictions for sex-related offenses, arson, escape, or have a high-violence potential.
Camp participants live in an open-dormitory setting, with a dining hall staffed by inmates and supervised by correctional staff. All units are subject to ongoing inspections and must comply with standards set by the State Department of Health Services.
When not fighting fires, incarcerated firefighters perform conservation and community service projects. CAL FIRE determines conservation projects. Completed or ongoing projects at Ben Lomond Conservation Camp include fuel reduction and burning debris, as well as restoring hiking trails, water streams, and removing drift wood from beaches.
The in-camp project is a CAL FIRE is a mechanic shop that maintains equipment used at the camp. Camp participants also maintain a farm.
Programs and Services
Just as in every CDCR prison, every conservation camp offers rehabilitative and educational services, including substance abuse programs, religious programs, hobby-craft, and GED and college courses. Their efforts during emergencies build a strong work ethic and a feeling of self-worth. As a result, these activities prepare camp participants for successful integration back into their communities upon release.
Community volunteers provide spiritual and religious services. Both CDCR and CALFIRE provide ongoing training and feedback for crew members, including job performance evaluations.
For more stories featuring current and former Conservation (Fire) Camp Program participants, read Inside CDCR.
Visiting is conducted on weekends and can be a critical part of an incarcerated person’s rehabilitation. Families can bring a picnic lunch during visits. For more information, visit the Scheduling Visits at Conservation (Fire) Camps page.