Wilderness is, by definition, an area essentially undisturbed by human activity. But when flocks of people seek out wilderness areas, maintaining natural landscapes can turn into a balancing act.
Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness is seeking volunteer rangers to educate visitors in some of Summit and Eagle county’s wildest places. The program helps reduce the impacts of human activity in the Eagles Nest, Holy Cross and Ptarmigan Peak wildernesses.
“Volunteers will learn how to keep the wilderness as pristine as they found it, or as pristine as we would like it to be,” said volunteer organizer Cyndi Koop.
The Eagles Nest Wilderness has been described as one of Colorado’s most untamed expanses. The area includes lush forests, jagged mountain peaks, rushing creeks and serene alpine lakes.
It’s one of the rare places in Colorado where outdoor enthusiasts can choose to follow maintained trails, or explore the largely untouched backcountry, said Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness president Currie Craven.
There is ongoing effort to allow people to enjoy and appreciate this special place, he said, but it’s also important to encourage guests to follow regulations to keep the area unspoiled.
The volunteer rangers play a big part in this effort.
“We have a niche for volunteers who enjoy going out to help visitors understand what a fantastic place this is and why it’s important to protect it,” Craven said.
Volunteer rangers will learn how to be proper stewards of the wilderness. They’ll learn the principles of a leave-no-trace philosophy.
Rangers will be briefed on wilderness history and regulations. They’ll also be responsible for keeping data on how many people come through, which can influence future policy decisions.
“The White River National Forest has a phenomenal amount of visitors,” Craven said. “We are trying to encourage accurate documentation of visitor numbers so officials can allocate appropriate resources to rangers, trail crews and other people who help take care of the land.”
Volunteers must commit to a day of training, and four days volunteering as a ranger during the summer. Participants can pick their own days, time and trails. The training is mandatory and will be held Sunday, June 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Minturn Town Hall.