Grand County volunteers have choice of Lands Day projects
September 24, 2009
Each year, residents of the community gather their gloves and shovels and head for the hills to improve the public’s outdoor environment for another year of use.
This year’s National Public Lands Day in Grand County – on Saturday, Sept. 26 – will remember one individual who never ceased to appreciate the freedom found in the area’s public lands: Tim Rau, the 17-year-old East Grand student who lost his life while whitewater rafting last summer.
When he was a young child, Rau was diagnosed with the rare genetic imbalance disorder Ataxia-Telangiectasia, or A-T. His life-long dedication to his athletic passions and the outdoors in spite of his disease included volunteering during National Public Lands Day for 15 consecutive years, with parents Charlie and Diana Lynn.
“We’re naming a trail after him,” said BJ Duffy of the U.S. Forest Service office in Granby. Called “Tim’s Trail,” the public will enjoy a new motorized trail between Church Park outside of Fraser and Beaver Creek Road, CR 50.
During National Public Lands Day, workers will seek to construct two new bridges on Tim’s Trail, create a 40-foot boardwalk, and add 200 linear feet of buck-n-rail to protect wetlands and direct traffic flow. 30 volunteers are needed for that project alone.
Forest Service officials hope to have around 250 volunteers for the day-long work day, which focuses on four needed projects and incorporates all federal land agencies across the county.
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National Public Lands Day, which began in 1994 with three federal agencies and 700 volunteers, “is a way for people to get back to their public lands and to help with the backlog of improvements at recreation sites,” Duffy said. Last year 120,000 volunteers worked on shared lands in over 1,800 locations and in every state, according to http://www.publiclandsday.org.
With having participated 15 years out of a total 16 National Public Lands Days, the Grand County community boasts the longest-consecutive-running volunteer effort in the nation, Duffy said.
“We have a bunch of dedicated volunteers,” she said. Participation has been so abundant, the annual effort has grown from completing just one project to doing four or five.
Volunteers eat lunch on the trail, work in the afternoon until 4:30, then head back to the SolVista lodge for a dinner supplied by Winter Park Resort, awards, door prizes donated by shops and services in the community, a party and live music.
And although the event will be missing the young volunteer Tim this year, he will be there in spirit with a dedication in his name that evening.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.
“We do get a lot of work done. It benefits the public by saving the government time and money by doing the actual work ourselves,” she said. Donations of materials from the community greatly contribute to the cause.
Participants meet at 7 a.m. – for the second year at the SolVista Ski Basin base lodge – register and enjoy a continental breakfast, then gather their complimentary lunch, a goody bag and T-shirt and head to the field by van or bus. Participants are encouraged to bring their own gloves, sunscreen and water.
Each group has a division leader who directs volunteers.