Give back to the trails you love


Volunteers help plant trees at the Cutthroat Bay Campground as part of National Public Lands Day in 2012.
Byron Hetzler file photo/ | Sky-Hi News

We love our trails. They take us to beautiful, natural places, provide aerobic exercise and even improve our mood. Equally important, they attract tourists to our shops, restaurants and other businesses, keeping Grand County’s economy strong. But they do not appear by magic and maintain themselves. Trails need our help.

Saturday, Sept. 28, is National Public Lands Day – a coast-to-coast one-day event that brings more than 100,000 Americans together to collect trash, pull weeds and construct trails.

Grand County’s National Public Lands Day draws more participants and completes the largest amount of work of any Lands Day event in the country. In its 19th year, Grand County also holds the longest continuous-running National Public Lands event in the U.S.

Each project is geared to certain types of outdoor enthusiasts, such as motorized vehicle users, mountain bikers, river rafters, anglers and hikers. You don’t have to be a super athlete or extreme-adventurer to take part. There are less physical jobs, such as helping to stuff goody bags, pick up food donations, work registration, and help with meals.

Sign up ahead of time (especially if you plan to do the river cleanup and don’t own a boat) or just show up at 7 a.m. on Sept. 28, at Camp Chief Ouray/YMCA of the Rockies, and sign up for the project of your choice on the morning of the event. Buses leave at 7:45 a.m., so set your alarm clock to be there in time to eat a continental breakfast and assemble a hearty lunch for the trail. Then board the bus or van of your chosen project for a brilliant autumn day in the wilderness, working alongside other outdoors lovers.

National Public Lands Day 2013 projects include a family-friendly Upper Colorado cleanup via rafts; new trail construction near the historic Idlewild ski area; a reroute of the Colorado River Trail below Shadow Mountain Reservoir; motorized trail building near Blizzard Pass above Grand Lake; and work on the Continental Divide Scenic Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Kids are welcome on all projects, and there are plenty of kid-friendly jobs.

At the end of the day, all of the volunteers meet back at Camp Chief Ouray for pizza and a delicious lasagna dinner complete with dessert and live music. Everyone who contributes to the success of Grand County’s Lands Day gets a ticket for a chance to win door prizes such as rounds of golf, ski tickets and outdoor gear.

Grand County’s National Public Lands Day is a huge success each year because of the many businesses and government entities that take part: Camp Chief Ouray (YMCA/Snow Mountain Ranch) and Winter Park Resort, local restaurants and businesses, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Parks Service, Headwater Trails Alliance, the towns of Fraser, Winter Park and Grand Lake, Grand County, Fraser Recreation District, Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails, Grand Foundation and Channel 17 TV.

For more information, stop by the U.S. Forest Service office in Granby or call 970-887-4120.

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