Wildlands Restoration Volunteers 2012 Summary of Results: Healing the Land and Building Community, with the Help of CMC Boulder
By Jarret Roberts
The Spark of a Community
An idea or a single small action can have a profound and lasting effect on our world. Our local communities saw this firsthand as one spark built to eventually consume more than 87,000 acres in the High Park Fire last summer. While this fire and many other recent conflagrations in Colorado have caused immense amounts of damage and devastation, they also can serve to remind us of the power a single action can have, such as the first gathering of volunteers for a WRV project in 1999, which grew to a large community of land stewards uniquely suited to restore a multitude of ecological disaster sites including the ones the fires left behind.
In WRV’s 2012 restoration field season, we witnessed the impressive growth and increasing strength of the community that started as a little seed of an idea planted over a decade ago, with steadfast monetary support, cabin use, outreach and recruitment help, and volunteerism from CMC Boulder. At over eleven High Park Fire restoration events, volunteers rose to the challenge and helped install erosion log barriers (ELBs), spread native seed, and mulch the severely burned hillsides outside of Fort Collins. This work will help stabilize slopes and slow the erosion that turned the Poudre River into ashy black water the consistency of chocolate milk.
A Network of Connections
The soft sloshing sounds of rubber boots contrasted sharply with the pounding of metal on metal, as mini sledge hammers drove in the last spikes on the 20-foot bridge volunteers built at the Forsythe Canyon Restoration project early in the spring of 2012. Much like ecosystems, communities involve connections between many individuals, groups, and places, all joining together to create a larger functioning system. On projects such as the Brainard Portal Restoration and Trail, West Magnolia, Canyon Lakes, and Weiser Eagle Habitat Restoration, volunteers came together from different groups to make connections and improve local communities and ecosystems.
CMC Boulder has had a long-term investment in the Brainard Area, and offered the cabin to help support restoration work there. Projects such as the Weiser Eagle Habitat Restoration connected local military veterans through the restoration of golden eagle habitat, while the Georgia Pass project brought together local off-road vehicle clubs and the U.S. Forest Service, who, shoulder-to-shoulder braved steep slopes and staged supplies to facilitate the 8,000-foot road closure.
Southeast of Nederland, a diverse partnership of Forest Service, Denver Water personnel, and others made all kinds of connections by constructing a new trail system and restoring areas of a seasonal migration route for a large elk herd at the Winiger Ridge restoration event. Just down the road from Winiger, the 2012 project arguably most focused on connectivity occurred. A mere 450 feet of un-built trail had left a brand new parking lot and portal into the Indian Peaks Wilderness isolated; but the Brainard Portal project fixed that and restored thousands of feet of social trail in the process. In one last, and slightly different connection, many volunteers at 2012’s Red Rocks Restoration used conveyor systems to fill an entire gully. The pounding of rock rang out in perfect harmony with the echoes of the many famous musicians who have played at the iconic live-music venue, which is also a Denver Mountain Park.