National Public Lands DayA chance to give back to the trails you love |

National Public Lands DayA chance to give back to the trails you love

Courtesy photo
Staff Photo |

Saturday, Sept. 26, is National Public Lands Day – a coast-to-coast one-day event that brings together more than 100,000 Americans to collect trash, plant trees, pull weeds and maintain trails on our public lands.

Grand County NPLD draws more participants and completes the largest amount of work of any NPLD event in the country. Grand County is celebrating its 21st year hosting the longest, continuous NPLD event in the United States.

Grand County’s NPLD is a huge success each year because of its dedicated volunteers as well as the many businesses and government entities that take part, including: The Inn at SilverCreek and Winter Park Resort, local restaurants and businesses, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Headwaters Trails Alliance (HTA), the towns of Fraser, Winter Park, Granby and Grand Lake, Grand County, Fraser Rec, Grand Lake Rec, Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails, The Grand Foundation, YMCA/Snow Mountain Ranch, and Channel 17 TV.

Each project is geared to certain types of outdoor enthusiasts such as motorized vehicle users, mountain bikers, river rafters, anglers and hikers. You don’t have to be a super athlete to take part in NPLD. There are less physical jobs for older folks and kids, or for those who are disabled or not in trail-building shape. Other volunteer opportunities include decorating, picking up food donations, working registration, and helping with meals. (We are especially in need of after-party helpers on Saturday night to get the SilverCreek banquet room back in tip-top shape.)

“Each project is geared to certain types of outdoor enthusiasts such as motorized vehicle users, mountain bikers, river rafters, anglers and hikers. You don’t have to be a super athlete to take part …”

NPLD 2015 projects include a family-friendly Upper Colorado clean-up via rafts; Wolford Open OHV Area Improvements and Expansion near Kremmling; Bridge, boardwalk and trail construction on the South Fork Loop Trail near Idlewild; buck n’ rail fence and gates construction for wildlife on Granby Ranch; and construction and improvements to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail on the Green Mountain Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Kids are welcome on all projects, and there are plenty of kid-friendly jobs for them.

Sign up ahead of time (especially if you plan to do the river clean-up and don’t own a boat) or just show up at 7 a.m. on Sept. 26 in Granby at the Inn at SilverCreek Convention Center and sign up for the project of your choice on the morning of the event. Buses leave at 7:45 a.m., so get there in time to eat your free continental breakfast, pick up your commemorative T-shirt, and assemble a hearty lunch for the trail. Then board the bus or van going to your chosen project for a brilliant autumn day in the wilderness working alongside others who are passionate about the outdoors.

At the end of the day, we all meet back at the Inn at SilverCreek for pizza appetizers and a delicious lasagna dinner complete with dessert and live music by Gary Key. Everyone who contributes to the success of Grand County’s NPLD gets a ticket for a chance to win door prizes such as rounds of golf, ski tickets, and outdoor gear.

For more information, stop by the U.S. Forest Service office in Granby or call 970-887-4120. You can also contact Headwaters Trails Alliance Director, Meara Michel, at 970-726-1013, or visit See you at The Inn at SilverCreek Convention Center at 7 a.m. on Sept. 26!

Detailed Project List

There will be six projects to choose from at NPLD 2015 this year, including a family-friendly Upper Colorado Trash Cleanup using rafts, sponsored by the BLM. Participants will raft along the river, picking up trash on the islands and along the riverbanks. Each year, this project gets more and more popular, so sign up ahead of time so raft space can be reserved for you or your group.

This year’s BLM motorized-use NPLD project is the Wolford Open OHV Area Improvements and Expansion, located just north of Kremmling with the purpose of enhancing the only open-for-cross-country-travel area for motorized use in Grand County. Work includes building fencing to delineate the Open Area boundary, scarifying and seeding adjacent areas, defining a parking/staging area and developing a loop trail on the outer edge of the open area. The project needs 20 volunteers for work that will include lifting, pounding stakes, using hand tools for dirt work and seeding of areas.

There is a collaborative Forest Service/Headwaters Trails Alliance project on the South Fork Loop Trail near Idlewild, focusing on construction of a new bridge and boardwalk, construction of a new trail, and decommissioning and restoration of the existing trail. South Fork Loop is a very popular, heavily used non-motorized trail located in the Idlewild area of the Sulphur Ranger District near the town of Winter Park.

There is a project sponsored by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife and Granby Ranch that will involve constructing buck n’ rail fence and gates on Granby Ranch. The work will make possible the seasonal closure of a portion of the Fraser to Granby Trail to protect important winter range habitat for elk and deer on the conservation easement. 10 to 15 volunteers will be needed for this project with difficulty rated moderate.

Headwaters Trails Alliance will be creating a trail connection from Leapfrog to Blue Sky (crossing the Vaszquez Ford). The new connector trail will replace the user-created trail, “Vasquez Wood,” which is unsustainable. The present trail is so steep in sections that it is unrideable, and the fall line has created significant erosion/drainage problems there. A dozen to 15 volunteers are needed for this project and difficulty rating is moderate.

Rocky Mountain National Park will be leading a project on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail on the Green Mountain Trail. Included in the project plans are construction of two turnpikes, water erosion control measures and general trail maintenance and cleanup. NPS is requesting 35 people, but can always use more volunteers. Skill rating is moderate to difficult.

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