Summit County volunteers come out for National Public Lands Day | SummitDaily.com

Summit County volunteers come out for National Public Lands Day

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news

Summit Daily/Paige Blankenbuehler

Friends of the Dillon Ranger District staff plus 25 volunteers joined at the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area Saturday to rehabilitate an eroding trail and realign the walking path higher on the slope.

The old path is located directly on the shoreline of Dillon Reservoir and high water levels have caused the path to decline on the hillside, in some places breaking off completely.

“It’s important for the sustainability of the trail system and the safety of those that use it that we relocate the trail farther up on the hillside,” said Annemarie Fussell, project coordinator for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District.

The group of volunteers, led by FDRD, worked on realigning a big section of trail, approximately 20 feet uphill from its current location along the Frisco peninsula perimeter trial.

“The lakefront is still extremely accessible from the new trail,” said Jessica Evett, executive director of FDRD.

While removing brush from the new trail site, the group worked on rehabilitating the old trail site by planting native tree species like lodgepole pine.

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“This is historically a very popular trail,” Fussell said. “It’s really popular in the fall while the water levels are low in the lake, but it tends to get washed out in the spring and has eroded badly.”

In July, a large section of the trail realignment was completed but the project is expected to take another 2-3 years to finish, Fussell said.

Volunteers also worked on a clean-up project along Swan Mountain Road, beginning early in the morning Saturday.

The volunteers, a mixed group of seasonal and permanent residents plus one from the Front Range area, worked steadfast from 9 a.m. until the project concluded at 1 p.m.

“These guys are animals,” Fussell said. “This group really cranked through the work and we had extra crew leaders volunteer today so everything ran really efficiently.”

Though hard work, volunteers were enthusiastic about working in the nice fall weather alongside the reservoir.

“This is our third volunteer project,” said Kellan Barr, as she was doing trail work alongside her husband Saturday. “This is the perfect time for projects like this because in September there are not a lot of things going on.”

A holiday meant to encourage volunteer work across the country, National Public Lands Day is Sept. 29, but due to the unpredictable nature of weather in the High Country, FDRD organizers bumped it up a week to ensure warm temperatures for volunteers.

“We always tend to celebrate National Public Lands Day a little earlier than the nationwide date,” Evett said. “Often by the end of September, it’s likely we’ll have snow.”

National Public Lands Day, which began in 1994, is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands.

The volunteer work comes with perks. Each person that attended the project earned a one-day free entrance coupon to all federal fee areas.