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CCMR and USFS win national Public Lands Partner Award
Click here to watch award acceptance video
Bob Daniels, President, CCMR, Greg Hamilton and Dani Cook, USFS Salida Ranger Distric, Anthony Ware, VP, CCMR
The USFS Salida Ranger District nominated, and Public Lands Alliance (PLA) awarded the Central Colorado Mountain Riders (CCMR) the national 2022 Public Lands Partner Award for best practices, leading-edge achievements, and excellence in public land partnership.
The coveted Public Lands Partner Award was awarded to five nonprofits and their agency partners for shared achievements. “This award recognizes an exemplary partnership for a stunning achievement to protect and preserve our public lands and enhance the experiences of their visitors and users. The award is presented to both the nonprofit and agency partners for their shared achievements,” the announcement stated.
In her nomination, Dani Cook, Trails Manager for the Salida Ranger District, submitted “CCMR works to create a positive working relationship with the motorized community and local land management agencies. They successfully raise funds to help manage existing (multiuse) trails that have fallen into various states of disrepair due to backlogged maintenance efforts and higher volumes of use during the pandemic.
CCMR volunteers work to keep trails clear of down and hazard trees, maintain existing trails, and advocate for new multiuse trails. After heavy flash flooding and debris flows through fire burn areas that closed and threatened trails in the district, CCMR was again able to rally members to ensure that the long-term sustainability of the trail was saved and reopened for all users to enjoy once again.”
For larger projects, CCMR obtains grants funded by the OHV registration stickers paid by motorized trail users. CCMR puts these funds to work on multiuse trails that benefit all users. An example included in the nomination is the construction of a 7-mile reroute on a section of the Rainbow Trail that has been closed since the Hayden Pass fire in 2016. This section of trail had washed away after post-fire flooding, making it unsafe and unpassable for the foreseeable future. CCMR worked in unison with the USFS and BLM to propose a new reroute and raised over $200,000 to construct the new reroute and successfully reopen the iconic 100-mile trail in its entirety. On National Trails Workday, Salida Mountain Trails and CCMR volunteers worked together for some hand work on another Rainbow Trail reroute.
To help prevent user conflict and create a positive recreation experience for all users, CCMR entered into an agreement with the USFS to design, create, and install 11 trailhead kiosks to educate users about trail etiquette and agency rules on multiuse trails. The popularity of CCMR kiosks is growing and is being adopted on other public lands to help multiuse trails function more smoothly.
CCMR has formally adopted fifty-four miles of multiuse trail, including segments of the Rainbow Trail and the Colorado Trail. The six-mile DudBob Trail in the Four Mile OHV area was opened in 2020 due to the efforts of CCMR, submitting a grant and actual trail construction.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the exceptional crew members at the Salida Ranger District and appreciate their willingness to work towards relationships built on trust and respect for all recreation users,” expressed Anthony Ware, CCMR Vice-President.
Beyond CCMR’s mission to preserve, create, and maintain multiuse trail opportunities - education and community partnerships are an important part of their volunteer efforts. Examples are hosting booths at City and County events and assisting at mountain bike events with flagging and sweeping.
“Central Colorado Mountain Riders applauds the Public Lands Alliance for identifying best practices and establishing partnership models for our public lands. We are committed to continuing to work in unison with trail recreation clubs, the community, and land managers to preserve and protect our public lands and to help ensure OHV recreation is managed and protected for generations to come,” Bob Daniel, President of Central Colorado Mountain Riders said.
About CCMR: Central Colorado Mountain Riders is an all-volunteer, non-profit whose mission is to preserve, maintain and create motorized trail opportunities in the central Colorado area through cooperation, education, etiquette, and stewardship. For more information, visit:
Colorado Central Magazine
Trail Steward - June 29, 2022 by Starr Hill
Volunteers work on The Rainbow Trail near Salida recently, to repair damage caused by two wildfires and some flooding in the past few years. (Courtesy photo)
CENTRAL COLORADO HAS BECOME a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and is known for being welcoming and accommodating — a necessity of embracing a tourist economy. The Upper Arkansas Valley has a reputation for being home to some of the most beautiful, unsullied landscapes in the state. Arriving at trailheads, visitors and locals tuck their vehicles into parking spots, don hiking or biking gear or unload horses, dirt bikes and ATVs to experience the Heart of the Rockies. As these recreators begin their salutations to nature, many have no concept of what happens behind the scenes to keep the trails passable for the endless feet, tires and hooves that traverse them.
Jon Terbush, executive director of Salida Mountain Trails, said, “People see the value in the trails. … They might not see what we are doing out there every single day, the little bit of rocks we are moving. But they understand we are putting a ton of hard work into making the network good for them to go use.”
While many organizations in the Valley have adopted portions of the vast trail system, there are a handful dedicated to keeping these corridors open into nature for all users. Central Colorado Mountain Riders, for example, has more than 200 volunteers who work in conjunction with another 50 volunteers from Salida Mountain Trails to keep a variety of trails in the area open and usable.
Bob Daniel, president of CCMR, pointed out that the mission of the club is to support safe trail use and upkeep. “We go out with chainsaws on our motorcycles and clear trails. It’s good to have [mountain bikers] see us work in conjunction with them.”
Terbush reciprocated the sentiment; “Land managers love to see the level of support between organizations that are stewards of the trails. It’s rare to have that level of partnership, and it’s great that we can work together to get a lot of stuff done.”
While each of these organizations has its own mission for trail care in the area, they have worked together on projects, most recently when sections of the Rainbow Trail were affected by the Decker and Hayden Pass fires. A “gullywasher” came through and washed out about three miles of trail.
Terbush described the damage as a result of plants being burned and the soil having nothing to keep it in place, which is a “deep erosive issue.” Daniel and CCMR started working with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to address the damaged trail.
CCMR requested an environmental assessment to get approval for the project, Daniel said. The federal agencies sent out biologists, archeologists and other scientists to ensure that the project avoided prehistoric burial grounds and protected sensitive plants and wildlife. Chainsaw work was not allowed until April 16 because the trail runs through critical mule deer birthing habitat, and chainsaw work had to end May 15 to avoid disrupting migratory birds.
Leveraging volunteer work is essential. “We clear trails every spring … with the Salida Ranger District. They … are probably the best OHV crew in the state,” noted Daniel. Given that strong collaborative relationship, CCMR, SMT and the Salida Ranger District came together for the trail repair.
“The Youth Corps came up for a month to clear the trail,” said Daniel, followed by mechanical crews. “We work volunteer cleanup behind. … We clean up anything that might hook on a foot peg. We clear the corridor … 10 feet high” for horseback riders.
Lynn Irwin Camp, CCMR’s membership coordinator, added that collaborative projects like this one benefit everyone who enjoys these multi-use trails, not just motorized users. While the trail work is its own reward, CCMR was also honored with a Public Lands Partner Award, for which they were nominated by the Salida Ranger District, in recognition of an “exemplary partnership for its stunning achievements to protect and preserve public lands and enhance the experiences of visitors.” Irwin Camp said the award “was a big deal for cooperating with land managers and the things we’ve been doing in that regard.”
“As much as we are a tourist-based economy,” Terbush said, “the people who actually live here are extremely generous with their money, and their time, with all of the volunteers we get.”
Each organization has their own future projects. CCMR has formally adopted 54 miles of trail, including several segments of the Rainbow Trail, the Colorado Trail on the Continental Divide, and part of the Monarch Crest Trail.
DudBob Trail in the FourMile Travel Management Area near Buena Vista was recently opened due to the efforts of CCMR, which pursued the project through years of National Environmental Policy Act studies, grant writing, and trail construction.
On the Monarch Crest, their goal is to remove snow cornices to protect the tundra. Daniel described, “When people start riding it and they come across a snowbank [sometimes 6 feet deep], they go out and around, and then two tracks on the tundra will be there for [a long] time — it doesn’t recover.” CCMR has also designed and posted multi-use trail signs to help reduce conflict between user types by raising awareness.
“Other areas have come to us and asked, ‘Can we copy it?’ and we said, ‘Absolutely.” It’s a great asset. It reduces conflict — people say, ‘Oh, there could be a moto on this trail, or a horse,” noted Daniel. CCMR is currently working with Stay the Trail to produce a pamphlet for etiquette and rules for trail use. They also published stickers that say, “Be Nice; Say Hi.” “We’re just trying to reduce the conflicts. When I come by on the trail on my bike, sometimes I hear ‘we just want to thank you [for clearing the trail].’ That makes a big impact.”
Grant writing is a large part of the club’s efforts. The work at the Porter Gulch access point was funded by a Fox Factory Grant. Other grants come from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife OHV Grant. When motorcycles are registered, owners buy stickers for $25 a year. That money creates a fund that awards grants to nonprofit groups, totaling about $6 million a year. This particular fund is for motorized recreation.
Anthony Ware, CCMR vice president, explained, “Just this last year we applied for those grants, and we’re bringing about $250,000 a year into the Valley.”
CCMR also serves the community through volunteer efforts like the Touch the Truck event and 14er Fest. Members also flag and sweep at mountain bike races such as the Grand Traverse. “We remove anything not natural,” said Daniel.
The club also supports Search and Rescue efforts. “Some folks can get in, but they can’t get back out,” Irwin Camp described. “It speaks to the goal of keeping these trails safe.” Members ride the trail and report hazards or issues, and most riders carry a chainsaw or handsaw to clear the trails as needed.
Ware added, “There are certain standards; we don’t just chop it and leave it. I’ve even gotten away from using the term motorized trails and started calling them multi-use trails.”
Salida Mountain Trails, primarily a mountain-bike organization, has a mission of maintaining non-motorized trails. Current volunteer efforts focus on the Arkansas Hills and Methodist Mountain trail systems near Salida. Terbush described a future project with CCMR to work on Monarch Crest Trail down to Highway 285 to the Rainbow Trail.
“It’s a pretty iconic ride,” he noted, adding that it needs some work in order to be safe for a variety of riders. Trails need to be “pedal friendly” and adapted to the current usage.
SMT also focuses on helping educate users on how to recreate responsibly, mirroring Leave No Trace tenants, including the concept of “know before you go,” the idea that the onus is on the participant to educate themselves about the area and applicable regulations.
Working with the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau and the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association, SMT has helped create content and videos about how to recreate responsibly with information ranging from trail usage to cleaning up after pets.
Terbush concluded, “People don’t want to be malicious or have mal-intent — it’s just that people don’t know. It’s incumbent on us as stewards of the trails to try to provide that education.”
So the next time you are at a trailhead, check out the informational signs, read the maps, and make yourself aware of the trail uses. Enjoy a good time in these amazing mountains, courtesy of all the trail stewards. And, be nice. Say “Hi!”
Starr Hill was raised off the grid in tipis and old mining cabins between Fairplay, Como, Hartsel and Leadville. Now a teacher, she is raising a family of her own and working on a memoir of lessons she learned growing up off the grid.
The mag article was sponsored by PJ and Merrell Bergin.