Friends of Eagles Nest issues call for volunteers to help maintain high-traffic wilderness areas | VailDaily.com

Friends of Eagles Nest issues call for volunteers to help maintain high-traffic wilderness areas

The Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness is a group of volunteers who spend at least four days of the season on the trails answering questions and being the eyes and ears of the trail. Volunteers focus on trails around Booth Falls, Pitkin Creek, Gore Creek and Missiouri Lakes, among others.
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Volunteer

For more information or to become a volunteer ranger with Friends of Eagles Nest, call volunteer coordinator Ken Harper at 970-406-1560 or Lisa Pelchat at 970-390-1373. For more information about Friends of Eagles Nest, visit www.fenw.org.

EAGLE COUNTY — In the Eagles Nest Wilderness, they give directions, talk about wildlife and flowers, offer sunscreen and have some fun along the way. They’re the Friends of Eagles Nest.

Volunteers take one mandatory training class and then go for a hike with an experienced volunteer ranger. This year’s training is June 11, and volunteers are asked to commit to at least four four-hour days during the season, from June to September.

“It’s fun. I’m meeting people and getting out there,” volunteer ranger Lisa Pelchat said. “It’s just really nice to feel like you’re helping. Anyone can do it.”

A day in the life of the Friends of Eagles Nest includes hiking certain high-traffic trails — mainly Booth Falls, Pitkin Creek, Gore Creek and Missouri Lakes, among others — and being the eyes and ears of the trail.

“You put on your shirt and your hat,” Pelchat said, “and you go out and talk to people. The focus is on education.”

That includes answering questions from hikers about anything from “How far is the waterfall?” to “Was that a grizzly bear?”

“People want to know all kinds of stuff,” Pelchat said. “Some of them have no idea what they’re getting into.”

The need for volunteer rangers continues to grow to help the U.S. Forest Service maintain the surrounding wilderness with limited resources.

“The actual rangers are just stretched so thin, so to have people out there volunteering is great,” Pelchat said.

Volunteer rangers explain what the wilderness is all about and why there are rules on the trails, and the four-day commitment gets them out on the trails themselves.

“On Booth Creek on a weekend, you might not get very far at all because you’re stopping and talking to everyone that wants to talk to you,” Pelchat said.

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.