Friends of the Dillon Ranger District will host its annual kickoff Wednesday, March 26 in Silverthorne.
Three-quarters of Summit County lies within the Dillon Ranger District, which is supported by the nonprofit organization.
“A lot of times we think of nature and ourselves as separate,” said Jessica Evett, executive director, “and they’re really interconnected.”
Local outdoor recreation puts pressure on the forest, she said, sometimes negative pressure, like erosion and littering. But people come here because they care about this place and love the outdoors, she said.
The kickoff is a “way to get excited for summertime,” said Scott Fussell, program manager, “and to start planning ways to give back to the forest through volunteering.”
Fussell will present about 70 summer volunteer opportunities, or three or four every week. These projects include trail work, tree planting, mining land rehabilitation, invasive weed pulling and visitor education. A few projects are for youth groups, and the rest are open to everyone and friendly to volunteers of all ages.
The event will also be an annual meeting and a membership drive. Members donate to the organization and vote for its board, he said, so he hopes they feel more committed.
The nonprofit — funded by members and government, corporate and nonprofit grants — runs the Ski With A Ranger program, which is holding its last tour for the season Friday.
The organization relies on about 1,200 volunteers every year and its two full-time employees. Fussell said hiring is open now for two summer employees. One would work in the field helping with volunteer projects, and the other in the office helping with the website, event planning and other logistics.
“It really feels good on a personal level to really give back to the forest and public lands,” Evett said. And volunteers enjoy the experience, she said, because it’s fun, friendly, inclusive and a great way to meet people in the community.
Those who go can expect prizes, food and drink and a cash bar. For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.fdrd.org.