Friends of the Dillon Ranger District making strides halfway through volunteer season
When summer hits in Summit County, so does volunteer season. Friends of the Dillon Ranger District has led dozens of trail restoration projects and educational programs for youth throughout the summer, and there is even more to come.
At the halfway point in its season, the nonprofit has done work on numerous trails in the county, including at Frey Gulch, Tenderfoot Mountain, Soda Creek, Sapphire Point, Gold Hill, Hunter’s Knob, Spruce Creek, Quandary Peak and more.
Emily Bruyn, marketing and events manager with the organization, said most volunteer projects have been filling up.
“We’ve gotten a lot accomplished,” Bruyn said. “We have had really awesome participation from the community. I’d say we’re right on course to finish our accomplishments for the rest of the season.”
One of the projects Bruyn said she’s most proud of is the bridge that volunteers have worked to build on the Wheeler Trail near Copper Mountain. Bruyn said the project has taken multiple volunteer days so far, and the group is hoping to be finished by mid-August.
– 1,766 volunteer hours
– 246 bags of trash collected
– 6,650 feet of trail maintained
– 20,406 square feet of forest restored
– 33,000 square feet of forest thinned
– 11 free educational hikes & tours
Friends of the Dillon Ranger District also has various educational programs for local youth. This year, the organization created the Youth Forest Stewards in Action program, which includes a group of seven local high school-aged teens volunteering throughout the summer on various projects.
The teens in the program have done some campsite and trail restorations, and in August and September they will work to remove barbed wire for local wildlife habitat restorations. The group will also play a role in planning the nonprofit’s National Public Lands Day project on Sept. 25, which typically serves as the conclusion to the volunteer season.
Bruyn said the program gives local teens a chance to earn community service hours while learning about the local forests and giving back to the community.
“They’re just getting some really great experience,” Bruyn said. “They’re using power tools, they’re using trail tools, they’re getting their hands dirty and doing some restoration work, including transplanting trees. They’re having a great time.”
Another new educational program introduces young kids in day camps to macroinvertebrates. The organization will take kids out to a local stream or lake and try to catch bugs. They’ll then teach them about the bugs’ life cycles and the role they play in the ecosystem.
Bruyn said Friends of the Dillon Ranger District’s volunteer projects are becoming increasingly more important as trails in Summit County are being more heavily trafficked.
“We’re a very popular destination for people in Colorado as well as around the nation, and because we’ve seen so much use on our trails it’s very important to help the Forest Service maintain them and keep them in tiptop shape for many years to come,” Bruyn said.
The organization’s next big project is Family Trail Day on Saturday, Aug. 14. Families are encouraged to come to Peru Creek trailhead near Montezuma to work on campsite restorations. Crafts will be available for kids at the event.
Throughout the rest of the season, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District will continue posting its volunteer opportunities on the calendar on its website. Folks can sign up to participate at FDRD.org/calendar. Bruyn said she is also at the Dillon Farmers Market every Friday to answer questions about ongoing projects.
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