National Public Lands Day Achieves Phenomenal Success with your help

By Diana Lynn Rau and Cindy Kleh

Family Trail Work.

Family Trail Work.

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” This quote by Mattie Stephanek was used in 2015 by HTA to describe how National Public Lands Day works.  This annual event where hundreds of people get together, work hard, have fun, and achieve so much for Public Lands epitomizes the meaning of her words.  This is your chance to give back to the trails you love by getting together, working hard whether it is in the field manning a shovel or helping with registration or food preparation, have fun with like-minded participants comparing stories and solving world problems, and together achieving more in one day that the US Forest Service could accomplish in three years.  Join us Saturday, 30 September 2017 at 7am at the YMCA for a day filled with breakfast, project registration, buses or vans to the projects, hard work, and all followed by a Volunteer Thank You party with pizza, lasagna dinner, beer and wine (for those of age), thank you prizes, music and more!

The colors should be fantastic.  We hope for a beautiful Autumn day in the wilderness but, as always, be prepared for anything!

The mission of National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is to promote volunteer awareness in protecting and sustaining public lands through an annual event of trail education, maintenance, and construction, thereby building advocacy and ownership for our public lands, and strengthening cooperation and communication among public agencies, communities and businesses.

Twenty-three years ago, our government services like US Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife combined with the volunteer group Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails for the first National Public Lands Day, one of three locations in the United States.   Headwaters Trails Alliance was formed that next year and took over the role of public partner and financial principal, able to accept donations which Federal agencies could not do.    The local towns and Chambers of Commerce as well as local newspapers and TV and radio stations get the word out and help wherever possible.

Since then, NPLD has rocked in Grand County.  We are the largest continuous project with the most volunteers and longest list of accomplishments in the entire country!   Grand County ‘s NPLD is a huge success because of its dedicated volunteers as well as the many businesses and government entities that participate and the variety of projects offered.  Volunteers come from as far away as Boston and many come back year after year. Each project is geared toward certain types of outdoor enthusiasts such as motorized vehicle users, mountain bikers, river rafters, anglers, hikers and equestrians.

You don’t have to be an athlete to participate in NPLD.  There are less physical jobs both out in the field or just help get out coffee or breakfast or register people for projects or hand out T-shirts.  The physically disabled and those not in trail-building shape are more than welcome.  For those who can’t be there the day of NPLD, there are preparations for projects and publicity to get out, arrangements to be made for thank you gift certificates for the drawings at the Volunteer Party, and even party decorations to do and music to arrange for.  It takes a lot of helpers to make a huge operation like this a success.  Let us know if you want to join our team…

This year Grand County NPLD is dedicated to local Jean Miller who worked as a volunteer for both projects in the field and behind the

Middle Park High School NPLD Volunteers.

Middle Park High School NPLD Volunteers.

scenes for 21 years.  Jean passed last year in September but will be remembered for her constant smile, energy, humor and hard work.  As the epitome of grace and dignity, Jean was a real role model for today’s young women.

Projects for this year include:

  1. Colorado River Cleanup and area maintenance between Pumphouse and State Bridge (BLM).  This cleanup is the only organized cleanup on the river and benefits rafting and fishing outfitters and tourist alike.  This project has removed hundreds of pounds of trash and debris from the river since this annual cleanup became a part of NPLD.
  2. River/Valley trail loop(NPS).  Volunteers will be assisting in the replacement of old erosion control methods and construction of  new log retainer bars and French drains to solidify the trail tread to reduce erosion. This project is on a horse and hiking trail overlooking the Kawuneeche Valley.
  3. Strawberry Trail Improvements, sustainability projects and general trail maintenance on a high-use trail (BLM/HTA)

This will involve reconstruction and rerouting of one-third mile of trail within the Strawberry Recreation management area to increase sustainability and insure trails are located on BLM public lands.

  1. Middle Supply Creek building a 60’ turnpike on a dual-track motorized trail (USFS).

Sign up ahead of time (especially if you plan to do the river cleanup and don’t own a boat) or just show up by 7am at the Camp Chief Ouray dining hall/Snow Mtn Ranch Nordic Center building at the YMCA on 30 September to sign up for the project of your choice and pick up your free commemorative T-shirt and various goodies.  A free continental breakfast will be available until the buses depart for projects about 745am.  In line with our green approach, don’t forget to bring your own lunch and water bottle.  Dress appropriately for outside conditions and always have sunscreen-hat-eye protection with you.  We also suggest gloves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes and maybe raingear since weather changes rapidly in Colorado.   

At the end of the day, we all return to the YMCA for pizza and a delicious Lasagna dinner complete with dessert and music by Mountain Memories.  Everyone who contributes to the success of Grand County’s NPLD gets a ticket for a chance to win door prizes donated by the community such as rounds of golf, ski tickets, outdoor gear or meals at local restaurants.  

For more information, stop by the US Forest Service in Granby or call 970-887-4120.  You can also contact Headwaters Trails Alliance Executive Director Meara McQuain at 970-726-1013 or visit the grand county National Public Lands Day Facebook page and add yourself to our team.  People registering in advance will receive a volunteer packet filled with information about event day if time allows.

Hope to see you 30 September at the YMCA near Tabernash! Join the team…