You know the Scouts motto: Always Be Prepared. It’s something to remember for every mountain outing. Although, it took on new meaning for me last weekend while I was up ...
Last November I wrote about outdoor volunteering opportunities in Northern Colorado. It was a pretty large list of options and ultimately inspired me to adopt Eagle View Natural Area to clean up every month with my family (and any readers that might want to join us).
Boy, did that Natural Area need a lot of help. It’s closed to the public and needs to be rehabilitated because it was formerly an illegal dumping ground. So gross, especially for all of the critters and birds around there.
Since then I recently received a press release from the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department on how our local volunteers have been breaking records. Yes, breaking volunteering records. If that’s a thing, then count Fort Collins on doing it.
In 2014, over 1,500 volunteers shared their time and talents. They donated 13,849 hours helping with everything from educational activities to trail building. That is a value of $310,001 (independentsector.org) and the equivalent hours of 6.6 employees. It is also the most hours ever donated and 3,200 hours more than 2013.
Volunteers were involved with a large variety of projects and programs:
Master Naturalists and Assistants led or assisted with 381 field trips, classes and events for 17,600 people of all ages covering topics spanning from archaeology to wildlife to native plants. It was a record-breaking year for participation in educational activities, too!
Volunteer Ranger Assistants welcomed fellow trail users, shared information and served as “eyes and ears” helping to protect local and regional natural areas.
Natural Area Adopters kept natural areas safe and beautiful for people and wildlife alike by picking-up litter.
Service Learning volunteers planted over 4,000 trees, shrubs and wetland plants and picked up nearly 100 bags of trash. Over a thousand volunteers participated in 73 one-day service projects such as trail building, litter clean-up or plantings. They said, “We do it because it is fun and we love to help” or “I want my child to learn about volunteering and appreciate nature” or “Public lands are special and should be cared for by those that use them.”
Restoration Corps volunteered weekly and assisted with Poudre River restoration by planting shrubs and trees. They also helped with weeding, watering, trail maintenance and other flood recovery projects.
Adopt-a-Trail- Trout Unlimited, Ottercares Foundation, REI, Peloton Specialized Bikes, Trailcology and Colorado Addicted Trailbuilders Society committed to three years of service and improved trails at Coyote Ridge, Gateway, McMurry, Reservoir Ridge and Bobcat Ridge natural areas. Adopters constructed new sections of trail, addressed erosion issues and built bridges, causeways and steps.
Native Plant Gardeners kept the native plant garden at the Natural Areas Department’s offices trimmed, weeded, healthy and beautiful.
Citizen Scientists volunteers collected data on dark skies and rare plants which gives managers helpful scientific information for planning and decisions.
Volunteers make Natural Areas better and make this great city an even better place to live. They wouldn’t be the same without such strong community support. If you’re interested in lending a helping hand and a few hours, check out this link for opportunities with the City Of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department. There are still many Natural Areas that could use some clean up!
7 days off for a break, 6 days of straight hiking, 36+ miles logged, and each day a new area explored. So, this isn’t really the Weekend Adventure Report, but more like the Week Adventure Report. I did not let one minute of our fake spring slip by me and I spent time at Fort Collins Natural Areas, State Parks, Open Spaces, and National Parks. It was an awesome hikecation!
Here’s a rundown of where I went and what you might want to add to your outdoor hit list once the snow starts to melt again (or not). You can also see all of the photos posted up on Fresh Air Fort Collins on Instagram. Plan on seeing some of these places as future blog posts with more in depth trail and fishing reports this summer, too.
This section of the Poudre trail and Poudre River is tucked in between the industrial area behind Mulberry and historical remnants of our sugar beet farming days here in Fort Collins. While it’s not the prettiest of places to hang out, there is some good river fishing (Bill would fly fish here often during the summers), and the history is pretty interesting too. But, I’m a history nerd and find historical tidbits of our trails and land just as interesting as hiking them.
The Foothills Trail starts here and wraps around the mountain and connects to a bunch of different spots around Horsetooth Reservoir. But, this is also how you get to the “A” behind Hughes Stadium. It’s a very popular trail with trail runners, dog walkers, and mountain bikers. Frankly, it was the most polite trail I’ve ever been on – EVER – with everyone practicing great trail etiquette and thanking each other for the courtesy.
It was also the dirties trail I’ve ever been on – EVER – in Fort Collins because people refuse to pick up after their dog. No, no, I take that back. They pick up after their dog, but then they toss the poop-filled bag into the bushes. This trail is available for adoption if you’d like to help keep it clean. It looks like the City of Fort Collins is having a hard time with this spot.
Views for days, and rarely a soul on the trail. This is an Open Space to get some mountain solitude, along with some secret fly fishing spots. It’s a very easy trail system and a great one to knock off your list while the rattlesnakes are still hibernating until April. Why everyone keeps crowding Horsetooth and Devil’s Backbone while ignoring areas like this is beyond me. Spread out, people of Fort Collins!
This is another spot that is jam-packed with people every weekend, but if you’re here during the weekdays when most people are working 9-5, you’ll have some shoulder room to spare. It’s kind of disappointing to hike trails with views of McMansions in the background, but what can you do.
I LOVED this place!! Plenty of history to geek out on, trails all to myself, sunset over the prairie, mule deer munching on grass above the trail, and some interesting terrain to tackle. I’m not sure how busy it gets on the weekend, but rest assured, I’ll be back to hike the whole system, and I can’t wait!
Bobcat tracks, mountain lion tracks, deer bones, super icy and slick trails, and the beginning of blooming cactus. This was another great hike with views for miles and miles. Also, when park rangers post signs that the bottom half of the trail is icy and suggest taking alternate routes – follow directions. They aren’t kidding about the level of slick down there.
What’s a hikeation without a few stops to Horsetooth Reservoir to soak up some sun rays, have a snack and watch some sunsets?
I thought it would be drier up here for some reason, but mud season is in full swing. So much that I decided the trail damage wasn’t worth it and turned around after going through the meadow, especially since I wore the wrong hiking shoes for the conditions. But, this is high on my list this spring when the wildflowers bloom. It’s going to be GORGEOUS!
We tend to fish here often during the summer, so it was fun to pop in to see how far along the ice melt had come during fake spring. I’m looking forward to some belly boating days here soon enough! Well, not too soon now that we’re back into winter conditions…
The lake was melted in some spots, but that didn’t stop a few diehards from ice fishing on it.
There were a lot of people fishing from the shores, a few people ice fishing on the lake, and bald eagles soaring above the water.
I spent Valentine’s Day, my last day of hikecation hiking up here, in the subalpine where my heart and soul belong. I’ve not hiked this trail before, and this is another one that I’ll be back to this summer. I stopped at The Pool since I didn’t bother bringing snowshoes, poles, or microspikes, but it was still a beautiful hike nonetheless. There is almost nothing better than the views of the mountain tops against the bright blue Colorado sky with the heavy scent of evergreen in the air. This is heaven.