Open space and trails make a difference |

Open space and trails make a difference

Jeanie Ringelberg, Special to the Daily

Make a Difference Day

What: A day of volunteer service for the community

When: October 12, 2002, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Summit Stage Bus Barn, County Commons, Frisco

For More information:

To register to volunteer, contact Ben Bornstein, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow, (970) 668-4155

To register as a project site, contact Jake Quigley, Youth and Family Services, (970) 668-4153

SUMMIT COUNTY – Our community calls itself “Colorado’s Playground” and as a premier winter and summer recreation destination, it certainly fills the title. Visitors and residents alike have traveled and settled in Summit County for its beauty and recreational opportunities. As one of the top 10 fastest growing counties in the state, Summit County faces the challenge of accommodating a large number of visitors while sustaining a high quality of life for residents.

One entity making a difference in balancing economy and environment is Summit County Government’s Open Space and Trails Department. If you have ridden the bike path or hiked around Summit County, chances are you have experienced the work of this county department.

In charge of acquiring and protecting open space properties and managing both the bike path system and natural surface trails, Open Space and Trails aspires to fulfill the idea that “Summit County will be a community that values and supports its diverse natural environment, an environment recognized as an economic asset that necessitates preservation, use in a responsible manner and enhancement,” as stated in the Indicators of a Healthy Community report.

“The work that Open Space and Trails accomplishes fits in well with the community vision and protecting our quality of life,” said Todd Robertson, County Open Space and Trails Director.

Open Space and Trails has protected 9,500 acres of land, of which 2,400 acres are owned by Summit County government. Most of the group’s land protection work involves conservation easements where Summit County holds the development rights of private properties. Through Open Space and Trails, the county also trades land to the Forest Service or gives financial contributions to protect acreage such as Cucumber Creek.

If you ride the bike path between Breckenridge and Frisco, you may catch one of their current projects – restoring the 4-Mile Bridge Open Space, an old dredge mining site across from Tiger Run. “Our goal is to restore the river corridor and surrounding area to create a more natural-looking and functioning ecosystem,” said Robertson. “Our work includes removing the dredge rock piles, although leaving some for historic interpretation.”

While Open Space and Trails employs 3.5 full-time employees, many opportunities exist for citizens to contribute to the work of the department. In fact, open space decisions are made by the Open Space Advisory Council, an 11-member citizen board appointed by the county commissioners. “The advisory committee acts as a funnel for all ideas or proposals regarding open space,” Robertson explained.

Open Space and Trails does not rely only on citizens to fill its advisory council, but also relies on volunteers to take part in its Adopt-A-Trail/Open Space Program. Popular enough to be full this year, program volunteers do light maintenance and monitoring of trails and open space properties.

In addition, citizens participating in Make A Difference Day 2002 have the chance to work with Open Space and Trails on a variety of projects. “Last year, one of the Open Space and Trails sites was the Whispering Pines Trail Project,” according to Jake Quigley, site coordinator for Make A Difference Day. “Volunteers created 100 feet of new hiking and biking trail, providing a connection to a neighborhood trail.”

Similar trail maintenance projects will be an option for volunteers on Make A Difference Day 2002 on Saturday, Oct. 12.

For more information on Open Space and Trails and the Open Space Advisory Committee or the Adopt-A-Trail/Open Space program, contact the department at (970) 668-4060.

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