Adopt a Trail program raffling off six new trails
ADOPT A TRAIL
• 6:30 p.m. at the Dusty Boot in Beaver Creek
• Volunteers must join a group, then attend a class on April 24 or 25
• Total of three work days required of each group from April to September
MINTURN — It’s obvious the Eagle and Holy Cross Ranger District office is proud of their countywide Adopt a Trail program, and that’s before you see the shrine.
The office has a corner with a variety of wall hangings dedicated to the program, which kicked off last summer and facilitated the clean-up and maintenance of 120 miles of trail.
“We’re hoping this corner is going to grow with awards and recognition,” District Ranger Aaron Mayville said from the office last week, where he detailed the plans for a celebration event for the program, taking place tonight.
Last year, 24 groups of four showed up at The Dusty Boot in Beaver Creek to adopt 20 trails in a two year commitment. This year, six more trails will be up for grabs in a lottery format; teams of four or more are encouraged to show up at The Dusty Boot again this year at 6:30 p.m. today if interested in adopting a section of trail.
If more than five groups show up, then the groups who are not successful in the lottery will be encouraged to join a group that was. Individual trail enthusiasts who also attend the party will be funneled into groups as well. Everyone who commits to helping a group must attend an orientation session on April 24th or 25th to learn about proper trail maintenance.
Volunteers from last year — which, by the time the program reached full fruition, ended up amounting to 30 teams, some with a dozen or more members — are all encouraged to attend the event as well, Mayville said, so it should be quite a party.
“It’s celebrating a great program and everything we enjoy around here,” Mayville said.
MEET YOUR NEW RANGER
The party will also be a chance for volunteers to meet their new Adopt a Trail forest ranger, Jordon Duvall of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, who will be taking the place of last year’s ranger Jeff Thompson. Thompson moved on to become the executive director of the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center.
Duvall’s position will be funded through private donations from the community, as was Thomson’s, which is what allows the program to take place as the Forest Service’s budget could not absorb another ranger.
Like a cyclist on the climb, the Vail Valley Mountain Biking Association worked tirelessly in their fundraising efforts both this year and last year, Mayville said.
“Our community coming together, finding this common interest and donating money to it, that’s a testament to private champions of the program and the VVMBA whose carried a lot of water on this,” Mayville said.
Adopt a Trail coordinator Michelle Wolfe said the community has already raised $30,000 this year and another $30,000 in the form of a grant from the National Forest Foundation is also helping the program meet it’s operational goals for 2017.
“After last summer’s amazing success, I can’t wait to see what happens this year,” Wolfe said.
Last year’s program didn’t kick off until late June and the volunteer groups took on a total of two trail days. With the earlier start this year, volunteer groups will be asked to add a third day to their maintenance schedules.
“We want to do a spring, summer, fall day, as opposed to just two,” Mayville said. “Which is really what it needs.”
‘ALL IN GOOD TIME’
The long-term goal of the Adopt a Trail program is not, simply, to adopt trails.
Within the Eagle and Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest, a need for greater connectivity among existing trails has been identified. New trails, however, will never see inception until the existing trails within the district are in tip-top shape. Prior to last summer, those existing trails were in such need of maintenance that the Forest Service could not conceive of any work on new trails ever taking place.
Now, however, with more than 120 miles of maintenance scratched off of the list of responsibilities, new trails are becoming more of a possibility within the National Forest. Mayville summed up the idea with the phrase, “all in good time.”
“(The Adopt a Trail program) will absolutely grow our capacity to do other things,” Mayville said. “But it needs to be up and running and sufficient first. And there’s a little break-in period there.”
Finally, however, the goal is to be a complete trail maintenance program for the entire county, not simply within the National Forest, Mayville added.
“Our goal is to make this a self-sustaining, countywide Adopt a Trail program,” he said. “And we’re moving that direction.”
Wolfe said a total of 11 more trails have been added to the program this year, with five pre-adopted out to program donors.
“This year we are working with Public lands like BLM and the towns of Minturn, Avon and Eagle,” she said.
Show up to The Dusty Boot tonight at 6:30 p.m. to find out exactly what trails are up for grabs this year.
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