Grand County Trails: National Public Lands Day needs your help

When planning for National Public Lands Day, agencies try to make sure they have projects for all skill and interest levels.
Diana Lynn Rau / courtesy photo

“There is strength in unity… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. “

This quote from Mattie Stephanek was used in 2015 by the Headwaters Trails Alliance to describe how National Public Lands Day works.

This annual event where hundreds of people come together, work hard, have fun and accomplish so much for public lands embodies the meaning of his words. This is your chance to give back to the trails you love by coming together and working hard, whether it’s in the field maneuvering a shovel or helping out at the picnic in Polhamus Park. The event allows attendees to have fun with like-minded people, compare stories and solve global problems, all while achieving more together in one day than the US Forest Service could accomplish in three years.

Join us on September 25 at one of the individual project sites described below. There are some COVID precautions in place, such as encouraging social distancing, masking where appropriate, and other “common sense” precautions we are all used to by now.

The colors must be fantastic. We hope for a beautiful fall day in the wilderness but, as always, be prepared for anything.

The mission of National Public Lands Day is to promote the awareness of volunteers in:

• protect and maintain public lands through an annual trail education event;

• maintenance and construction, thereby strengthening advocacy and ownership of our public lands, and strengthening cooperation and communication between public agencies, communities and businesses. This is Grand County’s 27th annual event, the oldest in the country.

The Grand County NPLD is a huge success because of its dedicated volunteers as well as the many businesses and government entities involved and the variety of projects on offer.

Volunteers come from as far away as Boston and many return year after year. Each project is aimed at certain types of outdoor enthusiasts such as motor vehicle users, mountain bikers, rafters, fishermen, hikers and horse riders.

Projects for this year include:

Headwaters Colorado River Cleanup (BLM) – Join the BLM at the 12th Annual River Cleanup, clearing trash and debris along a 30 mile stretch of the Colorado River in three sections, starting at the Pumphouse Recreation Area to Two Rivers. All works are accessible by floating the river.

Space is available for around 50 volunteers who do not have their own boats with pre-registration strongly recommended. If you are providing your own boat, pre-registration is not necessary. Volunteers can meet at the Pumphouse Recreation Area. It is a family project.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own boats, PFDs and / or paddles. For more information or to pre-register, contact John Monkouski at 970-724-3040. Proficiency rating: is to moderate.

• Strawberry / Phases Trail System (BLM / HTA): Several projects are available on this site according to skills and physicality. Projects will include the re-routing of phase .25 to a more sustainable slope and the use of trail construction tools; installing cables around a new parking lot; and the installation of a new kiosk and new signage in the parking lots. Additional work to be done includes trail brushing, slope / slope drainage, pruning and clearing. Competency assessment: easy to difficult.

• Lower Creekside Trail (USFS / HTA): The project will construct toll highways on the Lower Creekside Trail in Fraser. The work may consist of hammering, shoveling, brushing, limbing, brushing, digging, grinding. Proficiency rating: easy to moderate.

• Turkey Spur / Tonahutu Trail (RMNP – NPS): Fire recovery in the national park on the Turkey Spur / Tonahutu trails. The work will include work on the tread and construction of a log causeway in an area affected by the eastern fire. An additional project may include the construction of a buck & rail fence. Skill level: moderate to difficult.

• Training of stewardship ambassadors and work on the CPW trail: This day begins at the HTA office in Fraser for a stewardship ambassador program training and will end in the field working on the downgrading of a social trail on a wildlife conservation easement in Granby. Skills required include minor work on track tools. Skill level: easy.

Due to Covid precautions, this year’s event is again smaller than in the past. Each project is capped between seven and 15 participants, with the exception of the BLM River Cleanup, which can take many more volunteers depending on the availability of boats. Everyone must register to participate at

It takes a lot of help to make an operation like this successful. You do not need to be an athlete to participate in the NPLD. There are fewer physical jobs in the field – just ask – or choose to participate in the highly successful stewardship training.

All volunteers should be ready to work, with appropriate clothing: long pants, long sleeves, boots, hat, sunglasses, gloves. They should also be prepared for any type of weather; as we know here, the weather in the mountains is a finicky beast.

At 4:30 p.m., there will be Picnic on Public Lands in the Park, a family community gathering at Polhamus Park in Granby, to celebrate our public lands and the organizations and volunteers that make them safe and enjoyable for everyone. The event will run until 8:30 p.m., so pack a basket and come relax with your neighbors in a comfortable outdoor setting.

Two local bands will perform: River Wilder and The Moffat Tunnel Band. Drinks will be provided by Alcools R&J de Granby. Various nonprofits and others will have tables to educate and engage. There will also be a raffle for sporting goods and other items from local and Colorado businesses.

For more information contact Sean Burke, Field Program Manager at Headwaters Trails Alliance, at 970-726-1013 or [email protected], or contact Jeremy Krones, Executive Director of Colorado Headwaters Land Trust, at 970-887-1177 or [email protected].

Additionally, GC-NPLD Steering Committee members will participate in a public conversation on Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on September 23 to talk about the 2021 event and what public lands mean to us. This informative conference will be hosted by CHLT:

A volunteer cleans up debris from the East Shore Trail during Public Lands Day 2019 in Grand County. The work on the trail helped prepare him for the use of the bike.
Amy Golden / Sky-Hi News.
Volunteers can work on a variety of projects each year for Public Lands Day, like this work on the East Shore Trail in 2019.
Amy Golden / Sky-Hi News

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