Volunteering for Public Lands Day a way to give back to Grand County’s outdoors | SkyHiNews.com

Volunteering for Public Lands Day a way to give back to Grand County’s outdoors

Cindy Kleh
Guest Opinion
Grand County, Colorado

The majority of folks who live in Grand County have a passionate love for the great outdoors.

We are not all extreme adventure seekers. Some enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Rocky Mountains by simply walking through fields of wildflowers or leaving snowshoe prints on freshly fallen snow; some prefer to curl up along a mountain stream with a book; and others want to be immersed in that stream, casting for rainbow trout.

But we love our public lands a little too much, and there is a huge backload of manpower needed to maintain them. Trails need reinforcements and water diversions to combat erosion. Sometimes a new trail is needed to reduce user-created trails to a special place. Fragile wetlands need buck-n-rail fencing and boardwalks to deflect foot and vehicle traffic. And especially in Grand County, new trees need to be planted to replace the millions lost to the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

National Public Lands Day gets more of this type of work done on one day than any other event during the year, and Grand County has one of the longest-running and most scenic NPLD project sites in the nation.

This Saturday, Sept. 26, is a great opportunity to be a part of a community barn-raising. It’s a chance to see businesses, mountain towns and government entities working together to create something we can all enjoy.

You don’t have to be a “Hans and Franz” muscle man to be useful. Kids and seniors are also encouraged to take part in NPLD, and there are many ways to contribute. We need volunteers to man booths, stuff goodie bags and help serve breakfast and dinner.

Local restaurants donate breakfast and lunch items, while shops and golf courses donate gift certificates and raffle prizes. Sol Vista has generously hosted the event two years in a row in their new base lodge, while Winter Park Resort provides a delicious lasagna dinner every year to hungry volunteers at the end of a long workday.

It might be the cool fall air that gives you goose bumps, or it could be the sight of snowmobilers and Nordic skiers taking turns pounding nails, or Democrats and Republicans planting trees together. It’s reassuring to see this kind of community cooperation and shocking to see the amount of work that can be accomplished when we all pitch in.

So get outside and enjoy the last weekend of foliage by volunteering for NPLD. You may get some color on your cheeks, a few sore muscles or a blister, but the friends you’ll make and the magic of the day will more than make up for it.