When conditions returned closer to normal this summer, volunteers jumped at the chance to help on trail work | AspenTimes.com

When conditions returned closer to normal this summer, volunteers jumped at the chance to help on trail work

Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers saw stewardship hours soar by 105%

Volunteers help create a new Lower Plunge Trail in the Hunter Creek Valley last summer. The work was coordinated by Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers.
RFOV/Courtesy photo

A nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping trails in the Roaring Fork Valley region in shipshape benefited from the desire of so many people to get outside and renew roots in the community this summer.

Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers rebuilt and maintained 77 miles of trails, restored 20 acres of degraded landscape, worked on 64 different projects and completed 6,262 hours of stewardship — an increase of 105% from 2020.

Not that 2020 was a slouch of a year. RFOV didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic slow it down. It adapted to social distancing requirements and hosted more events for families and other groups that were comfortable working around one another. There were more events for small groups, out of necessity. Adaptation worked — RFOV managed to accomplish more work in 2020 than in 2019, according to Jacob Baker, RFOV communications and outreach director.

“This year we were able to include more people in our events and hold more events,” Baker said.

Adam Hallin, Jeff Daniels and Michael Hutton undertake heavy lifting on a restoration project on the Linkins Lake Trail last summer.
RFOV/Courtesy photo

RFOV benefited in a couple of ways from the easing, at least temporarily, of the pandemic. Some people among the wave of new residents who moved to the valley got involved in trails projects as a way to learn more about their new surroundings and meet people, Baker said. And some people who were already established in the community wanted to renew connections and give back through volunteerism.

There were a lot of people who wanted to experience the tightness community after coronavirus restrictions, Baker said, and volunteering is a good way to accomplish that.

A volunteer puts finishing touches on a rock bar for drainage on the rebuilt Linkins Lake Trail last summer. The restoration project was undertaken by multiple partners and headed by Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers.
RFOV/Courtesy photo

One of RFOV’s major goals was to participate as a member of the Glenwood Canyon Restoration Alliance to begin the work of restoring parts of Glenwood Canyon after the fire last year and the mudslides this summer. That goal helped spur RFOV’s motto for the season, “Renewing landscape and community through collective action.”

Some of the work undertaken earlier in the summer on the popular Hanging Lake Trail “vanished” when massive mudslides hit the canyon in late July, Baker said, but restoration at the rest areas and elsewhere survived.

Work in Glenwood Canyon will remain a major focus for years to come. RFOV’s website identified the following projects as being among other program highlights for 2021:

* Linkins Lake — worked with partner organizations to build rock steps and drainage features on the steep trail off the upper section of the Lost Man Loop on Independence Pass.

* Lower Plunge — built a new trail and rehabilitated the old trail that connects to the Hunter Creek Valley floor. The project was eight years in the making.

* Lazy Glen — planted 500 trees in one morning as part of a multi-year, multi-stage reclamation of former ranchland near Lazy Glen subdivision.

* North Star Nature Preserve — planted 860 native species to help keep wetlands healthy.

* Lake Christine fire scar restoration — hand removal of non-native plants to assist in the comeback of the landscape damaged by fire in 2018.

The organization built a lot of momentum in 2021 that the staff aims to maintain in 2022, Baker said.