GARNA’s newest Chapter, The Crestone Wilderness Stewards (CWS), came under the GARNA umbrella in early 2016 however the volunteer group has been active since 2014. The mission of the Crestone Wilderness Stewards is to assist the Rio Grande National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management San Luis Valley Field Office and the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve with projects benefiting the five wilderness areas that are within the Upper San Luis Valley area. The Chapter’s goals are to maintain, protect, and restore the character of the Crestone area and Upper San Luis Valley’s wilderness areas and to address the pressing issues of increased visitations, decreased federal resources and magnificent ecological impacts such as invasive species.
End of season update, October 2016: The 2016 season got off to a slow start due to numerous weather delays. We took these opportunities to set up information and sign up booths at both the Fourth of July parade in downtown Crestone, and at the Crestone Music Festival to actively seek out new membership. We are thrilled to have a total of 38 new members who have signed up and are now a part of the CWS!
We have a new logo design for our group that was created by Brink Messick with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and we think it looks great. Brink was also able to obtain grant money from the San Luis Valley Great Outdoors and the SLV Federal Bank for new tools, hard hats and first aid kits for the CWS. We were also given two cross cuts saws that were donated by the Four Corner’s Chapter of the Backcountry Horseman’s association. A big THANK YOU to Brink and these wonderful organizations for your generous help and hard work in helping the CWS continue to do valuable work in our local forests and wilderness areas.
In September we worked on the South Crestone Lake Trail. We cleared many downed trees that were over the trail, cleaned out water bars, and pruned back encroaching trees. The trail was clear all the way to the lake when we had finished. Two days later we found out that a large number of trees had fallen over the trail again up high close to the lake.
June 2016: The CWS worked on North Crestone trail where we cleared overgrown brush and down logs all the way up to groundhog basin. Earlier in May, two CWS volunteers finished a cross-cut saw training in Saguache. We now have four members who are class B sawyers for bucking only. Thank you to Brink Messick of VOC and the US Forest Service putting together this training.
January 2016: Through the San Luis Valley Great Outdoors and SLV Federal Bank and the hard work of Brinkley Messick, Volunteer & Partnership Coordinator in the San Luis Valley, we were able to secure funding to provide CWS our own tool cache and personal protective equipment. In addition to the tool budget, we received funds to cover the cost of a crosscut saw course again for up to 10 local participants. We will be setting up a meeting in the next couple of months with everyone before Brink starts ordering tools to make sure we are getting what we think we need. It’s wonderful to see the CWS moving forward with our mission and to have the support of local businesses in the valley.
2015 Actions and Accomplishments
- Attended and participated in Forest Service/GARNA sponsored weekend training June 14-15 in Buena Vista.
- Three CWS members trained by Forest Service in July and now certified Class A Sawyers.
- Five trails from “trailhead-to-lake” now 90% clear and safe for hikers and horsemen (North Crestone, South Crestone, Willow Lake, Comanche to Groundhog Basin and Cottonwood Lake trails).
- Obtained a good, basic set of trail maintenance tools for use on projects going forward.
- Growth of membership via use of Crestone Community Facebook site and articles in Crestone Eagle resulting in a group of 10 to 15 members.
- Conducted three group trail workdays during summer of 2015.
Stay updated on Crestone Wilderness Stewards news by liking their Facebook Page.
Board of Directors
Cathy Amenta, Co-Chair
Dave Miller, Co-Chair