Grand County Trails: National Public Lands Day needs your help

Diana Lynn Rau and Jeremy Krones
Grand County Trails
When planning for National Public Lands Day, the agencies try to make sure they have projects for every skill level and interest.
Diana Lynn Rau / courtesy photo

“Unity is strength … when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”

This quote by Mattie Stephanek was used in 2015 by Headwaters Trails Alliance to describe how National Public Lands Day works.

This annual event where hundreds of people get together, work hard, have fun, and achieve so much for public lands epitomizes the meaning of her words. This is your chance to give back to the trails you love by getting together and working hard, whether it is in the field manning a shovel or helping with the picnic in Polhamus Park. The event allows participants to have fun with like-minded people, comparing stories and solving world problems, while achieving more together in one day than the US Forest Service could accomplish in three years.

Join us Sept. 25 at one of the individual project sites described below. Some COVID precautions are in place, such as encouraging social distancing, masking up when appropriate, and other “common sense” precautions we’re all used to by now.

The colors should be fantastic. We hope for a beautiful autumn day in the wilderness but, as always, be prepared for anything.

The mission of National Public Lands Day is to promote volunteer awareness in:

• protecting and sustaining public lands through an annual event of trail education;

• maintenance and construction, thereby building advocacy and ownership for our public lands, and strengthening cooperation and communication among public agencies, communities and businesses. This is Grand County’s 27th annual event, the longest running in the nation.

Grand County’s NPLD is a huge success because of its dedicated volunteers as well as the many businesses and government entities that participate and the variety of projects offered.

Volunteers come from as far away as Boston and many come back year after year. Each project is geared toward certain types of outdoor enthusiasts such as motorized vehicle users, mountain bikers, river rafters, anglers, hikers and equestrians.

Projects for this year include:

Upper Colorado River Cleanup (BLM) — Join the BLM in the 12th annual River Cleanup, clearing trash and debris along a 19-mile stretch of the Colorado River in three sections, beginning at Pumphouse Recreation Area to Two Rivers. All work is accessed by floating the river.

Space is available for approximately 50 volunteers who do not have their own boats with preregistration highly recommended. If you are providing your own boat, then preregistration is not necessary. Volunteers can meet at Pumphouse Recreation Area. This is a family-friendly work site.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own boats, PFDs, and/or paddles. For more information or to preregister, contact John Monkouski at 970-724-3040. Skill rating: east to moderate.

• Strawberry/Phases Trail System (BLM/HTA): Several projects are available at this site depending upon skill and physicality. Projects will involve rerouting Phase .25 to a more sustainable grade and working with trail construction tools; the installation of cable around a new parking lot; and the installation of a new kiosk and signage at parking lots. Additional work to be done includes trail brushing, outsloping/insloping drainage, lopping, and clearing. Skill Rating: easy to difficult.

• Lower Creekside Trail (USFS/HTA): Project will be constructing turnpikes on the Lower Creekside Trail in Fraser. Work may consist of hammering, shoveling, brushing, lopping, clearing, digging, wheelbarrowing. Skill Rating: easy to moderate.

• Turkey Spur/Tonahutu Trail (RMNP – NPS): Fire recovery in the national park on the Turkey Spur/Tonahutu Trails. Work will include tread work and the construction of a log causeway in an area affected by the East Troublesome Fire. Additional project may include construction of a buck & rail fence. Skill rating: moderate to difficult.

• Stewardship Ambassador Training & CPW Trail Work: This day starts at the HTA Office in Fraser for a Stewardship Ambassador Program Training and will end in the field working on social trail decommissioning on a wildlife conservation easement in Granby. Skills needed include minor trail tool work. Skill rating: easy.

Due to Covid precautions, this year’s event is again smaller than in the past. Each project is capped at between seven and 15 participants, except for the BLM River Cleanup, which can take many more volunteers based on the availability of watercraft. Everyone must register to participate at

It takes a lot of helpers to make an operation like this a success. You don’t have to be an athlete to participate in NPLD. There are less physical jobs out in the field — you just have to ask — or choose to participate in the very successful Stewardship Training.

All volunteers should come prepared to work, with appropriate clothing: long pants, long sleeves, boots, hat, sunglasses, gloves. They should also be prepared for any type of weather; as we know up here, mountain weather is a fickle beast.

At 4:30 p.m. there will be Public Lands Picnic in the Park, a family-friendly community gathering in Polhamus Park in Granby, to celebrate our public lands and the agencies and volunteers who make them safe and enjoyable for everyone. The event will go to 8:30 p.m., so pack a basket and come relax with your neighbors in a comfortable outdoor setting.

Two local bands will be playing — River Wilder and The Moffat Tunnel Band. Drinks will be provided by R&J Liquors in Granby. Various nonprofits and other organizations will have tables to educate and engage. There will also be a raffle of sporting goods and other items from local and Colorado-based companies.

For more information, contact Sean Burke, field program manger at Headwaters Trails Alliance, at 970-726-1013 or, or contact Jeremy Krones, executive director at Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, at 970-887-1177 or

Also, members of the GC-NPLD steering committee will be on a public Zoom conversation at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23 to talk about the 2021 event and what public lands mean to us. This informative talk will be hosted by CHLT:

A volunteer clears debris from East Shore Trail during the 2019 Public Lands Day in Grand County. Work on the trail helped prepare it for bike use.
Amy Golden / Sky-Hi News.
Volunteers can work on a variety of projects every year for Public Lands Day, like this work on the East Shore Trail in 2019.
Amy Golden / Sky-Hi News


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