Adopt a Trail volunteer trail-maintenance and education efforts expand to more public lands | VailDaily.com

Adopt a Trail volunteer trail-maintenance and education efforts expand to more public lands

Daily staff report
newsroom@vaildaily.com

EAGLE COUNTY — Eagle County's sophomore season of Adopt a Trail started a little earlier this year with a kickoff and lottery event at the Dusty Boot Roadhouse in Beaver Creek on Monday, April 10.

Any party interested in adopting a trail was able to throw its name into the hat for one of 11 trails available for adoption. This year, Adopt a Trail expanded its program to include trails on publicly managed lands outside the National Forest, with hopes of bringing even more trail awareness to the community. These trails were located on town of Minturn, Eagle and Avon lands, as well as Bureau of Land Management land.

Later in April, new teams were invited to the Forest Service ranger station to learn the basics of trail maintenance, including restoring old social trails, keeping the corridor trimmed back and maintaining a good tread surface for water drainage. Adopt a Trail also worked in cooperation with the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to provide an independent steward training class.

Experienced teams were taught how to better work independently and learned some advanced drainage-maintenance techniques. This class involved one day in the classroom and one day on the trail practicing their new skills. Next summer, the organization will bring back this concept and teach trail-maintenance techniques that groups have specifically requested.

Michelle Wolffe returned for her second year as Adopt a Trail's volunteer coordinator and Kate DeMorest served as the Adopt a Trail ranger, guiding and training volunteers on the trail and with advanced projects.

Out on the trail

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This year, teams were asked to get out on their trail for at least three days — a spring evaluation, mid-season cleanup and a fall preparation for winter. Some trails needed more work than others, and teams stepped it up, with several offering to assist groups that needed a little extra help.

The Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association completed Minturn's new trail, the Mini Mile, in August, but several Adopt a Trail teams assisted in its construction, including The Kind Bikes and Skis, Vail Mountain employees and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.

The North Trail outside of Vail was severely overgrown and had a few areas in need of restoration. The Vail Police Department and town of Vail teams worked together to make progress on this trail. Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy also helped out the East West Family of Companies on its section of the North Trail.

Although most teams focused on the basic corridor clearing and tread repair, some teams participated in more complicated projects under the supervision of DeMorest, the Forest Service and the towns. A few of these projects included removing barbed-wire fences from Knob Hill in Singletree, rock stream crossings on Gore Creek and creating log check dams on Stag Gulch.

New trails

The new trails added to the Adopt a Trail program this season were identified by a sign and an individual team sign for the adopting group at their designated trailhead. Last year, Adopt a Trail staff placed most signs, but this year, new teams were invited to get involved with installing these signs themselves. Also new this season, teams were able to track their progress compared to other teams in the Adopt a Trail family and compared to Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association volunteers on the new online leaderboard. This interactive web page allows users to search individuals or teams and compare what "place" they ended up compared with fellow volunteers.

Adopt a Trail closed its season in October with a party at Walking Mountains Science Center. Forest Service staff and volunteers from both Adopt a Trail and Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association had dinner from Moe's Original Bar B Que, beer from Vail Brewing Co. and Girl Scout cookies from Edwards Troop 1727, which were donated to Adopt a Trail as a recipient of the Hometown Hero program.

The teams that achieved the highest honors were recognized and given bragging rights until next fall. New teams received their 2017 participation plaques, and all team leaders were given Adopt a Trail logo hats.

The Adopt a Trail program will continue to expand in 2018. The group plans to add five more trails, and teams will be invited to get more specialized education on advanced trail repair techniques. Adopt a Trail will also be implementing a new trail ambassador component to the program. This concept involves getting volunteers out on the trails to help educate users on trail closures and etiquette.

Keep an eye out for the spring kickoff event, taking place in April, to be announced on vvmba.org and the Eagle County Adopt a Trail Facebook page. Adopt a Trail will also be a 2018 participant in Colorado Gives Day. Until then, donations to the GoFundMe tab on vvmba.org. For more information, email Wolffe at ecadoptatrail@gmail.com.

Adopt a Trail statistics

Here are the closing stats from the 2017 Adopt a Trail season.

• 158 miles of trail covered

• 122 miles of trail clearing

• 65 trees removed

• 650 drainage structures cleared or created

• 6,053 feet of tread restoration/repair

• 377 pounds of trash removed

• 651 (10,186 feet) of closed social trails

• 650 total volunteers

• 369 total hours on the trails by teams

• 2,210 total hours volunteered

Volunteer hours by geographical location

• Avon: 323

• Eagle: 394

• Eagle-Vail: 61

• Edwards: 218

• Minturn: 346

• Vail: 756

Volunteer hours by team

1. Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy: 260

2. Vail Club 50: 229

3. Pedal Power: 89

4. Vail Skinners & Spinners: 86

5. Eagle River Water & Sanitation District: 77

6. East West: 76

7. Vail Mountain School: 75

8. Vail Police Department: 73

9. Vail Recreation District: 69