Volunteer efforts take root at Grand Lake trails
J.D. Krones and his dog, Cauli, always had their morning walk at the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District trails.
That was until the East Troublesome Fire destroyed his nearby home and burned a big part of the recreation district, which includes the Grand Lake Golf Course, disk golf course and dog friendly hiking in the summer along with Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails in the winter.
With the help of about 25 Rotary Club members, Krones organized a reseeding day Saturday at the Grand Lake trails.
“They asked me to take the lead on it because I lived here,” Krones said. “Being able to see what it was and what it is and what it will be. It should be pretty great.”
Along the blackened hillside, the group of volunteers distributed grass seed, raked it into the ground and planted treelings.
Trails manager Ryan Lokteff explained that Saturday’s work is part of a multi-phase plan to help recover the area — and that plan is well underway. Already the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps has cut down a number of hazard trees, and Marshall Forestry has chipped those trees.
While the green is popping up in some parts of the golf course, the reseeding effort will hopefully bring color back to the more heavily burnt area to the west of the trailhead.
“It’s been going well,” Lokteff said of recovery efforts. “A lot of the pieces of the puzzle have been falling into place.”
Along with the time and money donated by the Rotary for Saturday’s efforts, the rec district has received money for recovery from Great Outdoors Colorado and Grand County’s Open Lands Rivers and Trails fund.
This is Lokteff’s third season as trail manager for the rec district, but it’s not his first fire. The 2018 Golf Course Fire started on the Grand Lake Golf Course, growing to about 20 acres and threatening a number of homes in the area, though no structures were destroyed then.
“It was no serious restoration like this, where we’re trying to rebuild the forest,” he said.
Besides a few members of the Granby Rotary Club, most of Saturday’s volunteers came from Denver in partnership with the Rotary District.
“I was really surprised to see so many people from Denver coming out, which was really touching and makes us feel good,” Krones said.
Community service is something Denver resident and Rotary member Lou Anne Epperson is passionate about. What made Saturday’s project special was the fact that she spent a number of summers in the area growing up.
“When I heard about the Grand Lake initiative, I was like, ‘I am there,’” Epperson said as she scattered seeds.
On Sunday, the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will return and start work on the trail infrastructure. Lotkeff said they’ll be converting a winter trail to the east, where things are less burnt, for summer use so visitors will have somewhere to hike.
Toward the Colorado River, it’s a different story.
“I don’t even think we’re going to be able to open it this year,” Lokteff said, explaining that the area needs serious logging work before it will be safe to open.
Once the trail system has been recovered, the next phase will be bringing back the bird houses that once decorated the golf course. Krones is hoping to arrange a community project around that as well.
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