Dear Trails Community,
We are excited to bring you our annual report for 2021.
2021 was another successful year for trails in our community! It was another busiest and most successful year yet as we continue to grow our organization and positive impact on the community. As an organization, we grew from one full-time employee to two by hiring our first Progams Director. By the end of 2021 and in early 2022 we grew to four full-time employees hiring a Trail Operations Manager and Program Manager. These employees will significantly increase our bandwidth, reach, and impact for our community! While all exciting, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to Michelle Wolffe who moved on from the VVMTA but left an enormous mark on our trails community by building and leading the Adopt A Trail and Wildlife Trail Ambassador programs since their inception. A huge thank you is owed to Michelle!
We maintain that trails are more important than ever. Trails contribute to our quality of life and improve our physical and mental health. Trails without a doubt are a major contributor to the economic vitality of our community. For these reasons, we encourage you to get outside, exercise, connect with nature, and have some fun outside!
But trail use continues to grow, not quite like the pandemic year of 2020, but we saw use increase again year over year. We continued to work diligently caring for our trails, educating trail users, and maintaining a balance between recreation and conservation. We constantly listened to you, our trails community, and took your feedback seriously. We used it and provided it to land managers to communicate community demands and needs, and to make decisions on how to best improve our trails.
In 2021, we were thrilled to launch the Trail Conservation Crew (TCC). The TCC is a trained trail crew of six seasonal full-time employees who work across all public lands and trails in Eagle County. We had an incredible crew of locals who poured their sweat (and some blood) into the trails in their backyard that they use, know, and love just like the rest of us. The crew put in over 4,700 hours from May – November performing trail maintenance, leading and training volunteers, building new trails, educating our community and even (unfortunately) extinguishing smoldering campfires.
While the TCC is a needed and essential resource for our trails and public lands, volunteers will continue to be the core of the VVMTA and our successes. An impressive 1,490 volunteers put in over 4,000 hours of trail maintenance, wildlife protection, and stewardship activities across Eagle County. Our Adopt A Trail program grew to 75 local businesses, organizations, and friends groups adopting 66 trails. Wildlife Trail Ambassadors came out in full force after being sidelined during the heart of the pandemic in 2020, putting in over 327 shifts and 387 hours at seasonally closed trailheads. New in 2021, was our Youth Trail Stewards program. The TCC educated and led over 150 youth under the age of 18 on our trails. We hope these youth become stewards of our trails and public lands for many years to come. Finally, our Volunteer of the Year Ellen Miller, spearheaded a pilot program (more on this to come in 2022!) by leading four hikes on wilderness trails, leading volunteers who were educated about the importance of wilderness all while picking up garbage.
In our spare time in 2021 we completed some very exciting projects too! First and foremost we finished the final phase of the Minturn Bike Park and opened three new trails including the county’s first dual slalom course. In Eagle, and in partnership with the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition, we worked with land managers to build and open Adam’s Way and Belly Up. Up valley, we planned, managed, and contracted with McGill Trails to turn Meadow Mountain into singletrack, rerouted portions of Game Creek, Colorado Trail, and Half Nelson.
We could not have performed any of this work without you and are incredibly grateful for your generous support. Whether you volunteer your time or donate, thank you for all you do for us and our trails.