Gabilan Conservation Camp #38

Gabilan Conservation Camp #38 is jointly operated by CDCR and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The camp’s primary mission is to support emergency response teams during events like fires, floods, and other natural or manmade disasters. Gabilan is the only camp servicing the CAL FIRE San Benito – Monterey Unit (BEU). 

Gabilan conservation camp logo

Contact Information


Gabilan Conservation Camp #38

31801 McCoy Rd, Soledad, California 93960


(831) 678-1873

CDCR Camp Staff

  • Lt. Nilsson, Camp Commander
  • Sgt. Schwartz and Sgt. George, Assistant Camp Commanders

About Gabilan Conservation Camp #38

Gabilan Conservation Camp #38 opened January 6, 1986, is centrally located in Monterey County. Gabilan can operate six Type 1 Fire Crews for emergency response to fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters throughout the state.

In preparation for emergency response, Gabilan Camp conducts an annual Fire Crew Preparedness Exercise, which evaluates each crew’s performance through arduous evolutions in preparation for the upcoming fire season.

inmate firefighters

Additionally, Gabilan has a Heliwell Tank which consists of a circular aluminum shell with an internal heavy-duty, waterproof fabric liner.  This transportable, field-erected water tank holds approximately 10,000 gallons of water and is of sufficient size that all types of helicopter firefighting buckets can dip into it. Crews also use it as a remote water storage tank.

Camp Projects

line of calfire fire trucks

Fire crews perform community service and hazard fuel reduction projects with local governments, state and federal agencies within the San Benito, Monterey, Santa Clara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Sponsors of fuel reduction and project work with Gabilan Camp include:

  • City of Monterey: Greenbelt fire fuel reduction and habitat restoration. Crews remove invasive non-native plant species and dead plants and trees. Reforestation with native plants and trees; erosion control and greenbelt maintenance.
  • Marina Dunes: planting of indigenous flowers, abatement of weeds, and falling of dead trees.
  • State Parks: Removing dead trees, restoring historical sites, building bridges, clearing hiking trails and taking down bridges during winter months.
  • City of Carmel: Flood control and clearing non-indigenous vegetation from waterways.
  • City of Del Rey Oaks: Clean and chip willows form intersections and waterways.
  • Hollister Hills State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA): Clear vegetation from over 6,800 acres, including nearly 200 miles of off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails. Crews accomplish this through the removal or reduction of overgrown vegetation by prescribed burns, thinning trees and pruning/chipping of bushes and shrubs.

Gabilan supports feeding operations at emergency incidents with its Mobile Kitchen Unit (MKU). The MKU can provide up to 3,000 breakfasts and/or dinners for those staff assigned to the emergency. 

Programs and Services

Just as in every CDCR prison, every conservation camp offers rehabilitative and educational services, including substance abuse programs, religious programs, and GED and college courses. In addition to programming, their efforts during emergencies build a strong work ethic and a feeling of self-worth. Collectively, these activities prepare camp participants for successful integration back into their communities upon release.

Gabilan Conservation Camp also offers Wildland Fire Chainsaw (S-212) and forklift operator classes.

For more stories featuring current and former Conservation (Fire) Camp Program participants, read Inside CDCR.

Visiting can be a critical part of an incarcerated person’s rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Scheduling Visits at Conservation (Fire) Camps page.