Looking to volunteer this summer? Here are some environmental opportunities.

Volunteers and staff with the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District work on tread improvements at Sapphire Point in June.
Elaine Collins/Friends of the Dillon Ranger District

For residents looking to get involved in local conservation this summer, Summit County will have multiple volunteer opportunities on its public lands.

At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 20, the Forest Health Task Force met with representatives from the county, U.S. Forest Service, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and others to discuss volunteer projects that will be happening within the next few months.

In a virtual demonstration, Emily Elder with the Eagle-Summit Wilderness Alliance detailed opportunities within the organization. Currently, the group is taking applications for its May 21 training session.

“Volunteer wilderness rangers, or VWR’s, come in two flavors: trailhead hosts and patrollers,” she said. “They both go through the same one-day training program and pursue the same objectives. Both are representatives of the U.S. Forest Service that are meeting with the public on the trails. The only difference is that hosts stay at the trailhead to engage and educate trail users that are getting on and off the trail or to the parking lot, and patrollers hike the trails engaging in educating hikers and backpackers.”

Volunteer rangers commit to a half-day training program, one hour of online video introductions, a follow-up mentor hike and four wilderness outings over the course of the season. Elder said that if someone is looking for less of a time commitment, the alliance has other options as well, including becoming part of the sawyer team or participating in a llama trip.

Lizzie Morrison, programs coordinator for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, said that one of the upcoming projects regarding forest health will be Trash the Trash Blue River Clean-up on Saturday, April 30, in Silverthorne. For the event, volunteers will be assigned a section of the river near the dam, the Silverthorne Police Department and the Summit County Library lot to remove trash along the river.

Some projects limit the amount of volunteers who can serve on each project, Morrison said, so interested participants are encouraged to check the group’s online calendar before showing up in case it does have restrictions on participation. The Blue River clean up, however, does not have a limit, so volunteers are invited to show up at 9 a.m. at the police department.

Other Friends of the Dillon Ranger District volunteer opportunities include partnerships with the Summit Senior Groups on June 10, July 8, Aug. 12 and Sept. 2, then there will also be collaboration with the Forest Health Task Force on forest monitoring in the summer and fall.

“We did get a large grant from the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Committee, and we’re going to be working at old Dillon Reservoir,” she said. “That whole trail system has no trail signs, so we’re going to be ordering and installing trail signs.”

Volunteers who will partner with the Forest Service on its surveying projects will come from the Forest Health Task Force, and the group will likely be less than 20 people. The local chapter of the Sierra Club is also looking to begin the process of restoring beaver habitats for potential reintroduction and will also likely need volunteers. The Colorado Headwaters Group will kick off that project with a forum on beavers on June 1 at Colorado Mountain College’s campus in Breckenridge.

The easiest way to volunteer for projects is to go through one of Summit County’s conservation and environmental groups. For more information, such as calendars and other opportunities to get involved, visit their websites and volunteer pages.

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