Grand County steps up for National Public Lands Day
Grand County Trails
Last Saturday, National Public Lands Day was nothing short of spectacular. The projects worked on went right to the heart of trails for hikers, bikers, Nordic skiers, and boaters alike.
One of over 1,000 nationwide events, Grand County NPLD is the largest event and the longest continuous running event with the most accomplished in the entire country. It has become the largest volunteer day in Grand County and is an ongoing cooperative effort by the federal land agencies, local businesses and dedicated individuals to provide you with the opportunity to give back to your public lands.
In recent years the federal budgets have been hacked away even in the face of ever-increasing usage of public lands. Personnel numbers have dwindled, which has limited the creation of new recreation opportunities and new trails and affected the maintenance of the trail systems and recreation opportunities that we already have.
Grand County celebrated its 21st anniversary participating in NPLD by celebrating Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th birthday. Dedicated to the memory of Kevin Pellini, a division leader for the Park’s NPLD component for 12 years, NPLD 2015 held special thoughts and energy of an enthusiastic and ever-smiling individual who was killed in a logging accident in 2008 when a tree fell on him during logging operations.
Friday afternoon, volunteers picked up food donations arranged by Lucinda Elicker and gathered to set up registration and food service for Saturday. Directional signs and banners were posted by Jim mills and Erica Bean and BJ Duffy and I directed people from one task to another as Brian Slagle gathered the donated transportation vehicles and gassed up courtesy of Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails. Paper goods donated by Costco and coolers donated by river rat individuals as well as the high school were filled with food to adorn the Grand Ballroom.
Saturday, The Inn at SilverCreek was bustling from 6 a.m. from fresh coffee poured by Kathy Gilbertson, and cinnamon buns and bagels served up by Marty Todd and Marsha Brady, all donated by Rocky Mountain Roastery, YMCA, Blue Water Bakery, Rise and Shine, Sharky’s and City Market. Diane and Paisley helped people put together their lunches with sandwiches from the likes of Subway, Fontenot’s, Smokin’ Moes, Randi’s Grill, Rudi’s, Bistro 28, Brickhouse 40, Mad Munchies, Sagebrush, Cy’s Deli, with vegie and gluten free items by Crooked Creek and Wildhorse Gormet. With beverage products from Pepsi, bottled water from McDonald’s, fruit from Safeway, chips from Frito Lay, and brownies from Carvers to round out their lunches, no one went hungry.
More than 30 volunteers helped government agencies and Headwaters Trails Alliance director Meara Michel and staff register and sign up over 200 people for the six projects available this year county-wide from Colorado River near Kremmling, to Rocky Mountain National Park trails to system trails in the Winter Park area. Buses and vans loaned from rec districts and lodges transported people to the projects for a day filled with sunshine, brilliant fall colors, fun, camaraderie, and good honest work to improve our trails, then back again late afternoon for a party fueled by donated beer and wine, pizza appetizers from De Antonio’s and Hernando’s, and topped off by a full lasagna dinner donated by Winter Park Resort, all to the magnificent tunes of Gary Key who gave us a regular concert performance.
The Grand Ballroom had been beautifully decorated by Girl Scouts headed up by Nicole Robinson while Kerensa Meadows, and I finished off the Memory Boards showing off the last 20 years of NPLD achievements in Grand County. Miles Miller and John Monkouski MC’ed the recognition of donors and the Volunteer drawings for door prizes gathered by Cindy Kleh, Mandy Hanifin, and I and supplied by shops and agencies all over Grand County. Some people left pretty happy with those great prizes! And I’m tired just talking about it …
People had come from all over to give back to the trails they use and love and they were well taken care of royally. Volunteers are the heart of this project and Grand County supported these incredible people with all its soul. We had volunteers on crutches helping at registration, two ladies sporting recent knee replacements helping with food and young kids helping their folks on projects. There was something to do for everyone. Monetary donations from families, individuals, Grand CountyTourism Board, HTA, FVPT, NEEF, Costco and the local towns were used to purchase materials. Rafters, kayakers and boarders and the MPHS Sophomore River Trip helped BLM cleanup the Colorado River from Pumphouse to Two Bridges and supplied their own gear for which the BLM rewarded them with their own barbecue. The NPLD official T-shirt given all volunteers lists all the incredible sponsors and the list covers the entire back of the shirt.
Accomplishments of NPLD 2015 are approximated at a total cost savings to the government of about $20,000. An estimated list of work done includes a 45 foot bridge with two adjacent boardwalks (South Fork), a 30 foot turnpike (South Fork), Two 15 foot turnpikes (Green Mountain/CDNST), 200 feet of reconstructed trail with water bars (South Fork), a log bench seat (South Fork), 10 log checks (Green Mountain/CDNST), 40 feet of trail rehab (Green Mountain/CDNST), 1,580 feet of buck-n-rail fence (Granby Ranch/CPW & Wolford combined), 3,240 feet of tread (Granby Ranch/CPW & Wolford combined), 1,500-plus feet of new trail construction (Leap Frog), 18 miles of river cleanup (Colorado River), 32 bags of garbage (Colorado River), three pickup loads of metal refuse (Colorado River), and four gate installations (Granby Ranch/CPW). It was a mind blowing Day!
But some of us old farts are getting tired. We need fresh help, young minds and bodies who know trails don’t appear by magic and maintain themselves. Trails take us to beautiful, natural places, provide us with aerobic exercise and even improve our mood. They also attract tourists to our shops, restaurants and local businesses, keeping Grand County’s economy strong. But trails organizations need help! Volunteer through USFS, BLM, Park Service, or Headwaters Trails Alliance. Be an organizing part of NPLD and other event days. There is something to do for everyone – come be a part of our team. Contact BJ Duffy at USFS, Meara Michel at HTA or Diana Lynn Rau at 887-0547.
There’s one more opportunity this weekend to help: Meadow Ridge Trail Construction. If you are still looking for something to do or a way to give back to the community, help construct a pedestrian path from the Fraser River Trail to the top of Meadow Ridge (CR 804). The project will occur this Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Work day is from 9 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, but schedule is flexible so half days are encouraged as well. Please dress in pants and boots and bring layers. Equipment and protective gear will be provided. Bring water, snacks and lunch. Meet at HTA Office at 120 Zerex St. in Fraser (old Fraser Visitor Center).
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Over the past few days, a dozen fresh inches of snow dropped on Winter Park Resort.