Grand County Trails: We’re grateful for moisture (but not too much) |

Grand County Trails: We’re grateful for moisture (but not too much)

Dianna Lynn Rau
Grand County Trails
Even at the low water level we are currently experiencing, the rivers or lakes are a wonderful family experience.
Dianna Lynn Rau

The rain in the last few weeks has been a delightful change. The spring was kind to our environment with moisture coming slowly but steadily. The light snows melted slowly on the scorched land where the fires had been. The moisture soaked into the dry hillsides that have now blossomed into beautiful flowers.

But the moisture ended too soon, the rivers never raged here this spring with melt water and remained mild. The advantage is that the lower levels have been great for families and river newbies.

During a normal year, Pumphouse to State Bridge surged with names like Needles Eye inspiring fear in the minds of the inexperienced. The Fraser White Mile threw white foam high into the air and Thumper did indeed thump you!

The constant current from Rancho del Rio to State Bridge is one of my favorite floating sections with the ever-changing flow back and forth, rocks to dodge and small waves.

We took our son Tim on the river before he could walk and he loved the water and camping and everything outdoors. We brought the family dog (with his life vest!) and it was wonderful family time of the highest degree.

A simple small bag of trucks occupied Tim in the sand while we relaxed in camp. Sometimes he brought friends, sometimes he rowed but he learned the rules of the water. As he grew, he earned his own boat and rowed it himself in the gentle current developing an eye for the water.

Even at the low water level we are currently experiencing, the rivers or lakes are a wonderful family experience.

But low water levels mean not enough moisture coming from the mountain snows and the West is definitely suffering. Even a wet spring was not enough, and the dry weeks that followed returned us to drought mode. Fires are again springing up in neighboring counties. Any harsh rainfall can be a problem.

Where fires raged last fall, black soot and scorched wood pieces flow down the steams to contaminate human water sources. With no plants to hold it in place, what had been rich soil turns into mud and slides down the hillsides creating havoc as experienced on Interstate 70. The aftermath can be more devastating than the fire itself.

In just a few weeks, Grand County has gone from low fire danger, due to generous spring moisture, to extremely high fire conditions.

“Vegetation across Grand County is rapidly drying out and the fire danger indices are already where they were when last year’s historic fire occurred”, says Cody Peel, Fire and Aviation Staff Officer for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Effective last week, Stage 2 Fire restrictions in Grand County prohibit any open flames outdoors allowing only use of liquid or gas-fueled stoves and appliances or fires INSIDE the home of private residences.

Building, maintaining, or using an open fire of any kind, outside the home, whether on public or private land is punishable by large fines and possibly imprisonment. See updates at or call 970-627-7121.

Please, both locals and visitors alike, PAY ATTENTION. We don’t want another fire like East Troublesome! Grand County has suffered enough. Do your part to enforce these restrictions.

Headwaters Trail Alliance has instituted a much-needed Stewardship Ambassador program to help improve awareness and work with the lack of knowledge or thoughtfulness of the “Newbies” in our outdoor paradise.

Volunteers must undergo training and then face the public using our trails system, informing them of rules and regulations and gentle tips to improve their outdoor experience. So far, this program has received a great response from both volunteers and visitors alike.

It is a great start to educate trail users — together with the locals paying attention, we just hope it is enough to keep Grand County safe this holiday weekend.

For more information, email or call 970-726-1013. Again, please do your part so we all can stay safe.

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