Meet Your Forest: Getting to know your FDRD forest stewards |

Meet Your Forest: Getting to know your FDRD forest stewards

A group of Girls on the Run camp participants take a lunch break on the shores of Dillon Reservoir during a Friends of the Dillon Ranger District trail-improvement project.
Daily file photo |

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part series about the history, mission and programs of Friends of the Dillon Ranger District.

Friends of the Dillon Ranger District began as a group of local citizens collaborating with the USDA Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District in 2004 to provide opportunities for community members to play a more active role in the sustainable management of our local national forest lands. Our programs have grown steadily in response to a high level of demand for organized, effective outdoor stewardship projects.

The White River National Forest is the most visited recreation forest in the nation, with more than 9.6 million user days — more visits than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountain national parks combined. Close to half of the White River recreation days occur in Summit County, 75 percent of which is public land managed by the Dillon Ranger District.

In recent years the lands managed by the Dillon Ranger District have also been devastated by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which has diverted funding for trail maintenance and recreational management away from the district. As a result, FDRD has taken a lead in helping the Summit community become better stewards of the forest ecosystem, so it is preserved for future generations.

Since 2005, FDRD’s volunteers have maintained and improved more than 85 miles of trail, performed fire mitigation and restoration on more than 30 acres, removed invasive weeds on more than 85 acres, removed more than 3.5 miles of obsolete barbed wire fence, removed more than 630 bags of litter and recycling from the forest and contacted more than 25,000 visitors through outreach education and volunteer ranger patrols. Our efforts have resulted in more than 58,000 volunteer hours and more than $1,000,000 of in-kind value leveraged for our National Forest lands over the past 10 years.

FDRD’s ongoing goals as an organization are to 1) improve the quality of our natural resources and the quality of the user’s experience on our local national forest lands and 2) create awareness and community around our local national forest lands through active stewardship.

FDRD’s efforts provide tangible benefits to our national forest lands by reducing excess sedimentation carried by runoff into waterways, addressing erosion on our trails system, replanting trees, restoring riparian areas, reducing invasive weed infestations and removing litter. FDRD focuses on providing learning experiences that are fun and rewarding, and it is critical that participants feel that their efforts have made a measurable difference.

By providing quality experiences, we hope that our efforts will lead to long-term outcomes, such as increased involvement with environmental stewardship over time and a lasting connection with public lands. Through these efforts, we hope that our programs help foster an enduring legacy of stewardship. Tangible benefits to public lands in Summit County will include more sustainable trails, restored landscapes and improved National Forest lands. This improves water quality by decreasing excess sedimentation into streams, which benefits native species, as well as humans who rely on clean water.

Pick up a copy of the Sunday, May 24, edition of the Summit Daily News to read more about the projects and programs FDRD has implemented to achieve its goals.

Jasmine Hupcey is the office and volunteer manager for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. She can be reached at For more information on the organization and volunteer opportunities, visit

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