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We are trying a new addition to our home page with periodic member profiles. This month: Poudre Wilderness Volunteers
Poudre Wilderness Volunteers help protect four designated wilderness areas — Rawah, Comanche Peak, Neota, and Cache la Poudre — and many multi-use wild areas along the northern end of the Colorado Front Range. We patrol primarily on the watersheds of the Cache la Poudre (Wild and Scenic) River and the Big Thompson River, extending a protected region from the northern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park nearly to the Wyoming border.
Our 320 active members, both riders and hikers, ages 18 to 80+, patrol over 60 trails, 286 miles of trail, within 159,000 acres of designated wilderness and many multi-use trails. We typically contribute around 25,000 hours of service each year. We estimate a total value of volunteer services to the FS of about $6,700,000 since 2005. We are organized as a 501(c)(3).
Besides talking with visitors and observing and documenting conditions (trails, signage, safety issues, inappropriate campsites and firerings, trash…) for our agency partner, we have crews that pull weeds and maintain trails, set up hosting stations at busy trailheads, introduce kids to our wild places (“Kids in Nature”), produce visual materials, publish a newsletter, and conduct a variety of supplemental trainings and educational programs for ourselves and the public. In recent years, as a result of fires and floods, we’ve been very involved in trail restoration work. Since the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we hold an annual “Wildnn” event — this year it will be Wild55 — whose goal is to put as many of us as possible into our backcountry wilderness areas during peak season.
We train…extensively and repeatedly. We find that intense and ongoing training builds commitment and connection as well as skills. At Spring Training, new recruits spend a weekend in the mountains. The core of the weekend is Saturday’s Training Trail exercises — some 20 stations, many with role plays, that introduce new folks to the techniques we use for the challenges we may meet. Great bonding, great fun — we all remember our Spring Training weekend!
Once new volunteers have learned the basics: safety, talking to visitors, what’s expected on and after a patrol, how to handle predictable challenges…….we welcome those who want to specialize (for example, focus on trail maintenance work). But whatever else we are doing on the trail, we always stop to greet and support visitors.
We maintain two interrelated websites, our public face at https://www.pwv.org, and a members-only portion, where we schedule and report patrols and manage private information like member lists. The public side provides detailed descriptions for all the trails we patrol; it is by far the commonest reason non-members come to the website. All those descriptions also come in parallel versions which provide members with details about our patrols.
Consistent with current corona virus guidelines, PWV has suspended all recruitment activities and canceled 2020 Spring Training. Should the situation change, we will reconsider and perhaps institute modified training activities to enable us to bring our current class of applicants into the fold of patrolling members. We are working on plans to keep them engaged and familiar with our training materials. We are also developing a “NeedHelp" program, to support our members who need help due to the virus.
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