We are thankful for you, our community of trail users and stewards. Your time volunteering, membership, partnership, donation, and support is what made 2021 a successful year for our trails, community and the VVMTA.
Without you, we would not have been able to grow our programs, plan and complete trail projects, protect wildlife, and advocate for sustainable recreation opportunities and access.
Thank you for your support in 2021!
Trail Conservation Crew
In 2021 the VVMTA introduced Eagle County’s first seasonal full-time Trail Conservation Crew (TCC). The VVMTA was able to create seasonal positions for six full-time TCC positions. The TCC’s focus is on trail maintenance, trail building, protecting seasonal wildlife closures, closing illegal/social trails, designating campsites and closing illegal campsites, communicating fire restrictions, educating trail users at trailheads, removing garbage, and generally mitigating recreational impacts on trails and public lands. The TCC will work across all public lands in Eagle County, functioning as an essential resource for all land managers, agencies, and partners.
Meet and read more about this amazing crew of six locals who have been caring for our trails from May through October. To support this crew and program please consider making a donation, ensuring that this program continues in 2022 and beyond. Read more about the program in the Vail Daily here.
The TCC had an impact on trails across all of Eagle County and on lands managed by the USFS, BLM, Town of Vail, Town of Minturn, Town of Eagle, Avon, and more. They did focus their efforts on a few bigger projects including building Adam’s Way in Eagle, reroute on Game Creek trail in Vail, Colorado Trail reroutes, and building the new Road Gulch Climbing trail in Eagle (name TBD). These large projects were accompanied by maintenance and upkeep on existing trails though out the valley. The TCC crew also continued to promote stewardship by leading and training Adopt A Trail teams, Youth Trail Stewards, and Wildlife Trail Ambassadors.
Trails you might have run into the TCC crew on in 2021 include Pipeline, Lov Connection, Sneve Gulch, Paulie’s Plunge, Haymaker, Cougar Ridge, Mike’s Night Out, McKenzie Gulch, Two Elk, Game Creek, Lee’s Way, Bighorn, Pitkin, Booth Lake, Whiskey Creek, Buffehr Creek, and many, many more.
Minturn Bike Park
Thanks to support from local businesses and foundations like Balance Point Construction, The Steadman Clinic, and the Harold & Mary Louise Shaw Foundation we were able to bring back FlowRide Concepts to complete the final phase of the Minturn Bike Park. The final phase includes a dual slalom course (races to start next year!) and an advanced/high speed downhill jump line. An uphill climbing trail was also built by the VVMTA trail crew and Women’s trail crew to allow easy access to the dual slalom and jump line.
Additionally, thanks to Sendy Sauce, community partners, and Jerry Sibley Plumbing we installed a water filling station. Next to that, a bike repair stand was planned, funded, and installed by local Eagle Scout Phillip D’Andrea.
The bike park continues to be a free and favorite place for locals, visitors, families, and riders of all abilities to enjoy on a daily basis!
It was a busy year of larger trail projects that were tackled and completed by a collaborative and committee approach. The Trail Conservation Crew performed a lot but not all of the heavy lifting on a number of these projects including:
- Adam’s Way: TCC, Eagle County Open Space, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and Hardscrabble Trails Coalition volunteers
- Meadow Mountain: McGill Trails, USFS, and VVMTA
- Belly Up: TCC and Hardscrabble Trails Coalition volunteers
- Game Creek: TCC, USFS, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, VVMTA volunteers
- Colorado Trail: TCC, USFS, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Colorado Trail Foundation
These projects all enhanced the connectivity, fun, and sustainability of our trail systems and will only continue to improve as additional trails come to fruition in the future.
Adopt A Trail
Our Adopt A Trail (AAT) program and the volunteers that participate continue to be the core of trail stewardship in Eagle County. The program grew again in 2021 with 75 teams adopting 66 trails and 678 volunteers providing 2,841 hours of trail maintenance! AAT teams also accomplished:
- 152 miles of trail clearing
- 66 trees removed
- 569 drainage structures cleared or created
- 39,512′ of trail tread restoration/repair
- 1,384 lbs of trash removed
- 129 closed social trails
Wildlife Trail Ambassadors
2021 was without a doubt the most impactful year yet for our Wildlife Trail Ambassador program. Volunteers protected wildlife and sustainable trail access by providing 327 volunteer shits and 387 hours at over 16 trailheads across Eagle County. Notably in 2021, our WTA program:
- Included seasonal wildlife closures in Eagle including Haymaker and Eagle Ranch trails
- Game cameras have seen a drastic reduction in closed trail violations across monitored trails!
As in past years, we have our winter WTA training coming up on December 8th for winter season closures. We will have a spring training in early April for the spring season as well.
Volunteer Trail Crews
Volunteer trail crews tackle specific and more technical projects across our Valley. These crews meet regularly and often reward volunteers with food, beverage and swag afterwards!
- The VVMTA volunteer trail crew meets every Wednesday night and tackled projects on Berry Creek, Everkrisp, North Trail, Minturn Bike Park, and more.
- The VVMTA Women’s volunteer trail crew meets once a month and in 2021 worked on Charlie Brown trail, Son of Middle Creek, Deluge Lake, Minturn Bike Park, and Half Nelson.
- The Hardscrabble Trails Coalition volunteer trail crew meets on the first and third Tuesday evening of everyone month and took on projects on Adam’s Way, Belly Up, Singletrack Sidewalks, Haymaker, and more.
Youth Trail Stewards
We believe it is necessary to invest in and educate our youth on how to care for our trails, become stewards of our public lands, and enjoy the outdoors. Our youth are our next generation of stewards and users of our trails and public lands. We teach them trail maintenance basics, trail etiquette, and Leave No Trace Principles. In 2021, our Trail Conservation Crew led over 160 youth (18 & under) through partnerships and programs with:
- Adopt A Trail teams
- Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement
- The Cycle Effect
- YouthPower 365
- Rocky Mountain Youth Corps
- Berry Creek Middle School
- Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy
- Battle Mountain Cross Country Team
- Vail Mountain School
- Mountain Recreation
- Walking Mountains Science Center
- Eagle Valley Elementary School
- International Youth Conservation Corps
Advocacy & Planning
The behind the scenes time we put into trails is arguably the most important role of the VVMTA. On a daily basis, we are advocating for what you, our community, values in our trails and public lands. We are informing our governing bodies on master trail plans, representing recreation needs on coalitions, and collaborating with partners to enhance and protect trail and public lands access. We are listening to you, collecting data, and forming decisions on how to manage, enhance, and protect trails and public lands for our community.
Last, but certainly not least, Ellen Miller enthusiastically volunteered her time to lead hikes on East Vail wilderness trails. She educated attendees about the value of wilderness, connection to nature and trail etiquette all while filling up garbage bags of trash left behind by uninformed or ignorant trail users. Surprise surprise, every hike was at full capacity and she is already looking forward to leading more in 2021. Thank you Ellen!
Stay tuned next week when we will release our goals, projects, and programs for 2022.
We will build on our momentum and hit the ground running next year. To do this we need your support. We plan to:
- Grow and improve our Trail Stewardship programs
- Create new programs to encourage you to get outside and recreate responsibly
- Retain, recruit, and train volunteer trail stewards
- Sustain a full-time seasonal Trail Conservation Crew
- Protect and support wildlife populations
- Plan and implement new sustainable trail systems
- Educate trail users on proper etiquette and “Leave No Trace” principles
- Advocate for local, state, and federal policy that support our trails and community
Please consider donating to the VVMTA on Colorado Gives Day or anytime of the year for that matter. Thanks for making 2021 a huge success for our trails, for our health, and for our community!