Colorado Parks and Wildlife partners with Colorado Youth Corps Association to fund $319 thousand for trail maintenance projects
|Main photo: Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway
DENVER – Colorado Parks and Wildlife is partnering with the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) to hire 33 weeks of conservation service corps to repair trails impacted by wildfire damage and increased visitation in areas that are open to motorized recreation.
As Coloradans and visitors sought solace from the pandemic, Colorado’s trails saw explosive growth in visitation in 2020 as people looked for outdoor and socially distanced activities. Local, state and federal outdoor agencies across the state reported on average a 30 percent increase in visitation on public lands. In addition to higher visitation, last summer’s catastrophic wildfires also posed new challenges for Colorado’s trail network, as heavily burned wildfire areas shifted wildlife movements and the connectivity of some trails due to postburn hot spots in forest areas.
“As we monitor how human use and natural disasters impact our outdoor spaces, we have an obligation to work together to protect our trails so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come,” said CPW’s State Trails Program Manager Fletcher Jacobs. “CPW is very grateful and fortunate to partner with so many wonderful organizations that share our passion to connect people to Colorado’s outdoors through educational experiences. We look forward to collaborating with CYCA because it allows us to bond with our outdoor community at a grassroots level, and get our hands dirty together as we work toward rebuilding areas that will enhance recreation opportunities.”
CPW shares the same goal with CYCA – to inspire young people to connect with the outdoors while helping them understand how to balance outdoor recreation with mindful conservation. This partnership demonstrates the commitment of both entities to work together towards a mutually beneficial stewardship education strategy.
While Colorado’s OHV recreators already play a critical role in sustaining motorized trails for the state by annually funding over $4 million in trail opportunities and improvements, this newly funded project is an innovative way to involve conservation corps to help contribute to trail maintenance in Colorado.
“Spending time in nature helps teach us, inspires us and nourishes our bodies and minds,” said CYCA’s Executive Director Scott Segerstrom. “Working together with CPW on these trail projects is a wonderful way to empower our youth and young adults and demonstrate that they can make a significant difference to help conserve our public lands. Through experiential learning, our corps members are gaining knowledge on how they can transform landscapes and give back to their community.”
CPW staff and CYCA-accredited conservation service corps will be working on the following motorized trail maintenance projects this summer:
Grand Lake / Still Water Fire Rehab
Due to the devastation of our motorized trail systems by the historical wildfires on the Sulphur Ranger District in 2020 and the critical resource protection considerations associated with runoff and benched trail tread in burn scars, this project is of the utmost importance to our forest, state and region. There is a need for exceptional OHV riding areas and opportunities like those provided by the Grand Lake Trail System prior to both providing motorized recreation and protection of the sensitive areas buffered by a quality trail system with a consistent presence. Work will include an estimated quantity of OHV routes affected by wildfire in the two areas is 200+ miles.
Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway
The Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway is a destination location for 385,000 visitors annually. The proliferation of vehicle-accessible dispersed campsites, along the Alpine Loop, are becoming a capacity and density issue, affecting visitor experience and impacting natural resources. The BLM is working towards addressing these issues through campsite designation. The work would include obliterating 125 rock fire rings, bagging ash piles containing nails and glass, cleaning up trash, installing 125 metal fire rings and campsite posts and bucking and felling hazard trees. Designating campsites will address issues the proliferation of campsites, trash, soil compaction in fragile locations and vehicle encroachment off of the roadways.
Rainbow Trail Maintenance
The Rainbow Trail is a 100-mile-long motorized trail that is all single-track width and open to dirt bikes, horses, hikers, and mountain bikes but due to limited access points, is most popular amongst dirt bikers. With the use of saw crews, hazard tree mitigation will substantially help with user safety as well as trail sustainability.
The increase in visitation proves the importance of outdoor spaces to Coloradans, and a collective need to invest in restoring and expanding a trail network system so increased human use does not overwhelm our state’s natural resources. This trail funding provided by OHV users and the physical work by dedicated conservation service corps will provide additional access and recreational opportunities that connect people to the outdoors.
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