2017 Adopt A Trail Mid Season Review
August 2017 marks a very successful second season to Eagle County’s Adopt A Trail (AAT) program. AAT originated last spring as a collaborative effort between the Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association (VVMBA) and the White River division of the United States Forest Service. Together VVMBA and the USFS created this program to help assist in the maintenance of our 600+ miles of USFS trails. With only a small handful of USFS employees working as trail specialists, they were woefully understaffed to handle the range these trails covered. Last year AAT was able to adopt out 30 trails allowing those USFS specialists to focus their efforts elsewhere. This year AAT has expanded its program to include 10 new trails that are not on USFS land with hopes of bringing more trail awareness to the community on a town level. These trails are found within the boundaries of the Town of Minturn, Eagle and Avon as well as BLM land.
Funding for the Adopt A Trail program came from two primary sources. A GoFundme site was created by VVMBA to allow our local community to contribute to AAT. Last year this was the primary source of the $50,000 needed to hire a trail ranger and volunteer coordinator for the program to function. This year, almost $40,000 has been raised through the GoFundme site and it is still open to donations by visiting the vvmba.org web site. Another large source of financial support came from a grant that VVMBA had applied for through the National Forest Foundation. Both funding sources made it possible for the AAT’s second season to get rolling, so THANK YOU to the NFF and all our local individuals and organizations that made this year possible!
We kicked off this season on April 10th at the Dusty Boot in Beaver Creek. People interested in adopting a trail had the opportunity to throw their name into a “fishbowl” to see if they were one of only 11 trails opened up this year. The lucky new arrivals to the 2017 program included Vail Mountain Employees, Sonnenalp Club, Vail Skinners and Spinners & The Wolffe Tasting House, FORM Attainment Studio, The Wyse Family, Mountain Pedaler, Say No More Promotions, Double Diamond Ski & Bike Shop, Dusty Boot Roadhouse, Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and The Sonnenalp Hotel.
These new volunteers agreed to commit 3 days this summer, 3 hours each, to maintaining their newly adopted trail. In exchange for bragging rights, each volunteer group also will receive a plaque with their name on it posted at the trail head.
With the adoptions complete, it was now time to train the new recruits. A few workshops were offered to teach the basics of trail maintenance and sustainability. Safety is the number one priority with the AAT program so proper use of tools, protective equipment and hazard analysis was the main emphasis of these training days. For those teams returning from last year, the emphasis was on how to work independently. AAT has a newly renovated storage shed behind the Minturn USFS office where the tools and equipment is stored. Experienced crews were instructed in how to access the equipment, checking in/out tools and recording their progress.
In early May, another more advanced class was offered to AAT participants. This discounted class was provided by the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and 50% of the cost was paid for by the Adopt A Trail program. This class specialized in Independent Stewardship and covered not so basic trail surface repair including large scale drainage creation. AAT hopes this class gives the teams the confidence to work independent of ranger supervision so the program can move forward in an expanding direction.
This summer so far has produced some really impressive numbers:
- 50.37 miles of trail corridor clearing
- 19 Trees cleared
- 951 drainage structures created and/or maintained
- 1,407 feet of trail repair/restoration
- 73.25 pounds of trash removed
- 26 closed social trails (500 feet worth)
- 808 total volunteer hours
- 290 total volunteers
We couldn’t be doing this program without the support of the Eagle County community or all the dedicated volunteers, so THANK YOU again for making this all possible. I look forward to seeing what more we accomplish for the rest of the summer!