Saturday, 28 Sept is the 25th Annual National Public Lands Day in Grand County, probably the largest single volunteer event achieving more work than any other NPLD event in the Country.  This is your chance to give back to the trails you love by getting together, working hard whether it is in the field wielding a shovel, helping with registration or food preparation, or having fun with like-minded participants comparing stories and solving world problems. Together we can achieve more in one day’s work than most of our Federal Land agencies can in three years. Join us 28 September 7am at the Inn at SilverCreek  Main Ballroom for a day filled with breakfast, project registration, buses or vans to the projects, hard work, and all followed by a Volunteer Appreciation party with pizza, lasagna dinner, beer and wine (for those of age), door prizes, music and more! The colors should be fantastic. We hope for a beautiful Autumn day in the woods but, as always, be prepared for anything.

 Twenty-five years ago, US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management combined with the volunteers from Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails, Division of Wildlife and the public for the first National Public Lands Day in Grand County, one of three locations in the United States.   Headwaters Trails Alliance was formed the next year and became the county-wide non-profit partner to act as principal financial advisor and to accept donations on behalf of our federal land agencies. Local towns and Chambers of Commerce as well as local newspapers, TV and radio stations assist to 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.

 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.

You don’t have to be an athlete to participate in NPLD.  There are less physical jobs both out in the field or inside helping to get coffee or breakfast out, registering people for projects or handing 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, you can still participate with project preparations, publicity, taking pictures, party decorating, and setting up door prizes for the Volunteer Appreciation Party. 

It takes a lot of helpers to make a huge operation like this a success.  Let us know if you can join our team – we need more volunteers to help organize and put together all the details of this hugely positive day.  Or else year 25 may be our last. Some of us who have been doing this for all 25 years are tired. We are ready to hang up our hat and put away our boots.

 This year Grand County NPLD is dedicated to local Ted Parker who worked as a volunteer for both projects in the field and behind the scenes for almost 20 years.  Ted passed last year in October but will be remembered for his constant smile, energy, humor and hard work. Ted was a real role model for today’s young people, after sailing around the world then becoming a GM executive as well as a National Ski Patrol member.  He was a part of the Historical Society, Rocky Mtn Rep and High Rockies Hikers to mention a few things.

Projects to choose from this year include:

1- East Shore/CDNST Trail [NPS]:  Work will include minor tread work, corridor clearing, brush/slash removal and possible finishing tasks along boardwalks.  Skill rating: EASY TO DIFFICULT

2- Serendipity Trail [HTA/USFS]: Completing finishing touches on a large turnpike and approaches. Skill rating: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT

3- Sherman Creek Trail [USFS]:  Project will be constructing a 16’ turnpike or bridge on a motorized trail in the Stillwater Pass Area. Work may consist of hammering, shoveling, brushing, lopping, clearing, and installing water/erosion controls.  Skill Rating: MODERATE TO DIFFICULT

4- Strawberry Fruit Loop Trail [BLM/HTA]: Rerouting trail, removing nearby trespass trail then restoring site to agency standards and constructing erosion control measures. Site is kid friendly.  Skill Rating: EASY TO DIFFICULT

 5- Upper Colorado River Cleanup [BLM]:  Join the BLM in the 10th Annual River Cleanup, clearing trash and debris along a 19 mile stretch of the Colorado River in three sections, beginning at Pumphouse Recreation Area to Two Rivers.  All work is accessed by floating the river. Space is available for volunteers who do not have their own boats with pre-registration highly recommended. If you are providing your own boat, then pre-registration is not necessary.  Volunteers can meet at Pumphouse Recreation Area. This is a family-friendly work site. Participants are encouraged to bring their own boats, PFDs, and/or paddles. For more information or to pre-register, contact John Monkouski at (970) 724-3040.  Skill rating: EASY TO MODERATE

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 Inn at SilverCreek Main Ballroom 28 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 outdoor 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 Inn at SilverCreek for pizza and a delicious lasagna dinner complete with dessert and music by Caitlyn Taussig. Caitlyn is a local Kremmling gal who is becoming revered for her angelic clear voice.  If you missed her at the Trout Unlimited Healthy Rivers Concert last weekend, you have another chance to hear her – this local is going places… 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 with the USFS will receive a volunteer packet filled with information about event day if time allows.

 Hope to see you 7am Saturday 28 September at the Inn at SilverCreek near Granby!  When we work together, wonderful things can be achieved. Join the team…Remember “when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”  Mattie Stephanek