Forest Stewards Program seeks community volunteers
SUMMIT COUNTY – Taking care of the many popular trails on national forest lands in Summit County is no easy task, and the Forest Service simply doesn’t have the resources it needs to do the job. While visitation has skyrocketed, the White River National Forest’s recreation budget has dropped by 52 percent in the last 10 years, according to the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District (FDRD).The volunteer organization is seeking to fill some of those gaps with a new Forest Stewards Program, funded by grants from the Summit Foundation and the National Forest Foundation. Applications for the program are due by May 1 and the first training session is set for May 13.”We’re really excited to offer a long-term stewardship opportunity to community members. These stewards will make a huge difference on our local national forest lands. We’ve had great response and are looking for a few more stewards for each initiative,” said FDRD executive director Guff Van Vooren. The program needs volunteer trail crew leaders, ranger patrols and outreach educators.”I have high hopes that this partnership with FDRD will result in a big improvement to our trail system,” said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer on the Dillon Ranger District. “These volunteer forest stewards will help us more effectively meet the needs of those recreating on the National Forest and will help us to protect and preserve the natural resources that recreation activities can often impact.”Volunteer trail crew leaders will be involved in trail maintenance, scout the condition of local backcountry paths, taking inventory of maintenance needs, training crews and leading them on trail days. The volunteer ranger patrol will focus on outreach and education, making the public aware of how to enjoy public lands while minimizing impacts. Part of those volunteer duties will include user surveys, as well as keeping an eye open for invasive weeds.The volunteer outreach educators will help out with front desk duties at the Forest Service visitor center as trailhead hosts and naturalist hiking guides at local ski areas. “These volunteer offerings give community members really fun opportunities to connect to each other and to our local national forest lands. With our diverse offerings in 2006, we hope people will feel that one of them was made just for them,” Van Vooren said. A sneak preview of FDRD’s 2006 volunteer efforts:- Ongoing Forest Stewards Program – June 3 Forest Clean Up Service Project- June 24 Forest Restoration Service Project- July 7, 8, 9 Volunteers For Outdoor Colorado (VOC)/FDRD Crew Leader Training- July 15 Weed Pull Service Project – Aug 12 Fuels Reduction-Fire Mitigation Service Project- Sept 2, 3, 4 VOC/FDRD Mohawk Lakes Trail Days- Sept 16 Volunteer Celebration Day- Oct 14 Make A Difference Day Project Site(s)
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