Sunday, August 28, 2011

Backyard Collective takes on some great projects in Eldorado Canyon

If you have made it to Eldo in the past few days, you may have seen some dramatic improvements. A huge turnout in volunteers from area outdoor companies took on numerous projects in the state park. This was part of an event called Backyard Collective, put on by the Conservation Alliance. The Colorado Mountain Club, a multi-year Grantee, had two volunteer leaders, and assisted with the event. Osprey Packs, American Recreation Products, Inc., Backpackers Pantry, Outdoor Industry Association, La Sportiva, Nite Ize and Scarpa were all sponsors of the 3rd annual Boulder Backyard Collective. Ranger Steve Muehlhauser did an incredible job organizing, directing, and supporting the different groups working in the park.

New Streamside Trail Surface
With over 100 volunteers from these companies as well as Sea to Summit, Leisure Trends, Kelty, and more (I don't have a list), there was a lot accomplished. There was ongoing work with a slope stabilization project up on West Redgarden, just below Darkness til Dawn (essentially stabilizing this platform from rolling down to the creek!). The main picnic area had numerous "Beautification" projects completed, including tree planting. The Fowler, Streamside, and lower parking area trails were all improved and cleaned up. Burdock, an invasive species was cleaned up in many areas. All in all, there were probably over 700 hours of focused work completed - and there are some great results.

Both morning and afternoon, I volunteered to lead groups working on smoothing and resurfacing the Streamside trail, in it's ADA section below the Whale's Tail. I had great turnout, but it may have been because Steve named my group the "crusher", which totally attracts the competitive set in the outdoor industry. In the morning, the entire Backpacker's Pantry team carried most of the crusher fines across the bridge and made huge progress in resurfacing the first two-thirds of the trail. The afternoon had Sea to Summit, La Sportiva,
and Scarpa finishing the job, as well as a five-step process to add a "green" binder to the crusher fines to resist erosion. There is a little work that need to be done to manage the spring near the west end, but the main trail is complete between the Wind Tower junction and the west end of the Whale's Tail. It was cool to see a project go start to finish on it's primary objective in 7 hours. There were some motivated workers, and as far as I know, they were all working on the other half of the day (or even going back to work afterwards in Sea to Summit's case).
First stretch of the Streamside Trail in Eldo
Bouldering out Horangutan might be a tad safer now
It's really cool to see the outdoor industry actively involved in the trenches like this. For a small community, the Backyard Collective had quite a turnout, and I am PSYCHED that it took place in Eldo! As for the Conservation Alliance, some recent grants in Colorado have been applied towards projects in the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign, a motorized travel (snowmobile) campaign affecting the Hahns Peak planning area and the 100,000 acre Handies-Redcloud citizens wilderness proposal, and San Juan Mountains Wilderness Campaigns.

From the Conservation Alliance website: "Since its inception in 1989, the Alliance has contributed more than $9.5 million to grassroots environmental groups. Alliance funding has helped save over 50.5 million acres of wildlands; 28 dams have either been stopped or removed; and the group helped preserve access to more than 18,500 miles of waterways and several climbing areas. "


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