Grand County: YMCA hosts trail cleanup event |

Grand County: YMCA hosts trail cleanup event

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

In weeks, the snow will have melted, revealing all the work that needs to be done to clear and repair trails.

On Saturday, May 10, cross country skiers who have enjoyed trails all winter are being asked to volunteer for the Camp Chief Ouray/Nordic Center Cleanup Day at Snow Mountain Ranch-YMCA of the Rockies.

Volunteers are needed that day for trail cleanup and maintenance on the YMCA’s extensive Nordic ski trails. Its trail system is nationally famous as some of the best cross-country ski trails in North America.

“This will directly help the Nordic Center and our trails,” said Jeff Schmidt, the center’s director. “A big chunk of the work will be to our beginner trails.”

The trail cleanup is necessary because of the large-scale pine beetle mitigation efforts that have been conducted on the YMCA property in recent months. Thousands of trees killed in the ongoing pine-beetle epidemic have been cut down.

“What our volunteers will be doing is mostly slash cleanup,” said Marty Ferguson, Camp Chief Ouray’s director. “In addition, they’ll be spreading wood chips on the trails and even reclaiming some trails that were closed due to the beetle mitigation. We’ll also be building some buck fences.”

Several Nordic skiers have already volunteered as well as alumni of Camp Chief Ouray, which holds its summer camps in the same area of the YMCA property.

“We already have 90 to 95 people signed up,” Schmidt said. “Come out and join the crowd. It’s going to be a real social event. We’d really like for cross-country skiers to come out and volunteer so that next winter their skiing experiences here will be improved.”

On May 10, the Cleanup Day will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free breakfast and lunch will be served. At 7 p.m., an evening prayer event will be held in honor of Mother’s Day weekend.

“We’re welcoming ages 5 and up (for Cleanup Day),” Ferguson said. “We’ll also have some kid-friendly work sites during the event. We’ve had groups call us already wanting to do a service project and we welcome them.”

Participants are asked to dress appropriately for this outdoor event. They should also bring work gloves and metal rakes if they have them. The YMCA will be providing saws, shovels and other gear.

The cleanup work is expected to not only improve the ski trails and other recreational opportunities, but will help the YMCA in its plans for reforesting the area.

“By cleaning up some of this slash, it will help the smaller trees to survive and grow,” Schmidt said. “It’s part of the forest management plan here at the Y.”

Ferguson agreed. “We won’t be doing any replanting on May 10,” he said. “Some of the replanting is planned to start later this summer and for following years.”

For more information or to volunteer, contact Ferguson at or call (970) 887-2648, and Schmidt at or call (970) 887-2152, ext. 4173.

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