Meet Your Forest: Transforming trails on the Frisco peninsula with FDRD
More than a decade ago, cross-country skiers created the trails found on the Frisco peninsula. Today, the area is popular for both winter and summer recreation.
Located just a half-mile south of Frisco on Highway 9, the area was once at risk of falling into disuse when it (and scores of other Colorado forests) was hit by the bark beetle epidemic. A large percentage of the trees on the Frisco peninsula died as a result of the outbreak.
The dead and dying trees became a safety hazard to recreationists. In fact, the Frisco Nordic Center considered remaining closed one season because of worries the dead trees could fall and hurt skiers while they used the peninsula’s trails, said Ken Waugh, Dillon Ranger District recreation manager. Luckily, the area had recently been adopted into the Forest Service’s new Travel Management Plan, allowing the dead trees to be removed.
“We decided if we moved quickly we could hire a contractor to remove the hazard trees,” Waugh said.
The treatment made the trails safer for recreationists, but the trail system still wasn’t sustainable.
“Any user-created trail is not going to be sustainable,” Waugh said. “These trails don’t have drainage systems, so they create ruts.”
Unmaintained trails also are more prone to braiding. “If you have a bunch of eroded trails in a high-use area, such as the Frisco peninsula, it looks bad,” he said. “We want pride in our trails.”
In the past few years, the Forest Service and the town of Frisco have counted on the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District nonprofit forest stewardship group to get the Frisco peninsula trail system up to speed. “In terms of trail work, FDRD has been the champion,” Waugh said.
When FDRD staffers and volunteers started working to improve the peninsula trail system, it was in definite need of help.
“At certain sections of the trail, people were at risk of falling into the water,” FDRD executive director Jessica Evett said. “We can engineer those sections to be there for the long haul.”
FDRD began working alongside community volunteers to build a long-lasting, safe and enjoyable trail system. Through the last couple of seasons, the organization recruited hundreds of volunteers to get outside and get dirty, while having fun and improving the trails.
FDRD coordinated a variety of trail-improvement projects on the peninsula this summer, including more than a dozen youth projects with the town of Frisco, SOS Outreach and Girls on the Run camp participants, and four twilight projects. FDRD also hosted its National Trails Day project at the peninsula in June. During that project, almost 60 volunteers managed to cut 800 new feet of trail in four hours.
“Projects at the peninsula have played a pretty big part of our season, and there will be more to do next year,” said FDRD program coordinator Doozie Martin.
Cutting new trail is a task that requires major man (and woman) power. “We really do lean on volunteers for cutting new trail on the peninsula and elsewhere,” he said.
The community has really come together to make a difference in this area, FDRD staff members said.
“The Frisco peninsula is a great place to engage people of all ages to come out and get involved,” Evett said. “That ongoing work has helped make it a valuable recreational resource for the community.”
Breeana Laughlin is the office and volunteer manager for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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