Volunteers work the trails on National Public Lands Day
Jim McCormick gripped his shrub cutters with both hands, standing along the East Shore Trail near Grand Lake. He looked for a moment at the pine tree sapling that grew just a bit too close to the trail.
“I hate to kill the little ones,” he said. “But it has to be done.”
With a quick snip, he tossed the downed sapling off the path and continued up the trail looking for more shrubbery to cut back.
McCormick was one of at least 400 people who volunteered on National Public Lands Day in Grand County Saturday. He and five others followed a park ranger along the 3.5-mile trail. They brushed debris away, cleared shrubbery and sometimes moved fallen trees too close to the trail.
East Shore Trail will soon be opening to bikers, so part of the clearing process was meant to make the trail safer for them as well.
McCormick, who lives in Colorado Springs but owns a place in Granby, has been volunteering at Public Lands Day for over six years.
“I like to give back to nature,” McCormick said. “I use the trails; I help support them. Everything’s so beautiful. If everybody just does a little bit it makes a huge difference.”
Also in McCormick’s group was Christine and Stephen Lee, a retired couple living in Hot Sulphur Springs. The couple has participated in almost half of the past 25 years of Public Lands Day events in Grand County, as this was their twelfth year helping out.
For Christine, the reason they volunteer every year is simple.
“Well, we live here,” Christine said. “That’s what you do.”
This isn’t the only time of the year she and her husband volunteer on the trails, but it’s one of the “big ones” because the date is always set.
Other groups on the trail chopped down hazardous trees and pulled out stumps in the path of the trail. In one area, a small group continued work on a bridge over a wetlands area.
Volunteers worked other projects on Saturday as well, including the Upper Colorado River Cleanup at Pumphouse Recreation Area, maintenance of Serendipity Trail, turnpike and bridge construction on Sherman Creek Trail and a reroute of Strawberry Fruit Loop Trail.
For McCormick, Christine Lee and all the others out Saturday, the event was a good way to give back.
“Somebody had to do the work to get [the trail] to where it was,” McCormick said. “When you walk and think, ‘Oh, this is a cool trail,’ well, it didn’t start that way… It makes you feel good, like I’ve done something to benefit the trail system.”
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Rep. Joe Neguse is pushing to improve access and funding for public lands in Colorado and around the country.