Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers


End of season update, October 2016: Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers spent the last six weeks assisting the Leadville Ranger District complete their Campsite Monitoring Project. The project entailed finding and documenting campsite rings within the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. The method used was to hike each trail in the Wilderness and to follow any side trails that might lead to hidden campsites as well as to check out any areas along the trail that looked like a potential site. UAWV volunteers completed 14 wilderness trails in Chaffee, Lake and Pitkin counties. The data collected included pictures and waypoints for each campsite as well as a description of the site with included usage intensity, presence of litter and tree damage. All data was entered into a national GIS database.

Along with this project, UAWV continued to remove trees, deal with water mitigation issues and generally improve the trail tread for trails in the Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts as well as lending assistance to the BV Trails group on the Whipple Trail.

uawv boreal toads

UAWV assisted USFS Salida to create a protective area for Boreal toad tadpoles at Kroenke Lake.

Whipple trail work

Whipple Trail work summer 2016.

Wilderness monitoring

Wilderness monitoring


One of GARNA’s volunteer chapters is the Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers (UAWV). It was formed in response to an initiative of the Leadville District of the San Isabel National Forest, the office which has lead responsibility for managing some 250,000 acres of designated wilderness within three districts of the San Isabel: Leadville, Salida and South Park. Faced with a mandate to increase its level of management with fewer resources, Leadville District officials recognized that involving volunteers was a good option since their own staff and budget for wilderness work are stretched very thin.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers is to assist the Leadville and Salida Ranger Districts in managing and protecting wilderness and back country areas.


Among other tasks, UAWV volunteers:

  • check and maintain trail head signs
  • locate and report trail problems
  • locate, inventory and where appropriate eliminate backcountry campsites
  • report and replace damaged signs
  • do minor trail maintenance
  • contact visitors


  • 378 miles of trails
  • 111 trails
  • 200,329 acres of Wilderness
  • 5 wilderness areas: Collegiate Peaks, Buffalo Peaks, Sangre de Cristo, Mount Massive and Holy Cross
  • 783,000 acres total Forest Service land to be monitored
The Three Apostles from the Silver Basin Trail in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is typical of scenery a volunteer encounters while on patrol for the new GARNA chapter Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers.

The Three Apostles from the Silver Basin Trail in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is typical of scenery a volunteer encounters while on patrol for the new GARNA chapter Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers.

Volunteers, after proper training on standardized approaches and under the direction of Forest Service staff, will spend time hiking trails and reporting trail conditions, providing information to hikers, inventorying campsites and consolidating or eliminating certain sites, mapping the extent of invading plant species, installing or maintaining trailhead and directional signs, and performing minor trail maintenance. This is not a trail building or litter clean up or regulation enforcement group, nor is it a lobby group for expanded wilderness; it is simply a service group helping the Forest Service meet its challenges.

If you are interested in joining us, please contact uawv@garna.org.

Our Trails Reporting database can be found HERE.

Our Member Discussion forum can be found HERE.

Past Years Updates


Exciting news! As part of UAWV’s trail monitoring program, the group has decided to encourage members to adopt their favorite trail or trails to monitor and maintain. Adopting a trail will ensure that it will be monitored and that will free up members to check out other trails with less redundancy.  Choosing a trail will be on a first come-first served basis. The adoption arrangement is just within UAWV and not officially with the Forest Service. A UAWV adopter chooses a trail or trails to monitor and monitoring would entail checking the entire trail as early as possible in the season to assess the trail condition and to determine if there were any maintenance issues. The adopter either performs maintenance or notifies someone who could and it is the adopter’s responsibility to follow through.


One of GARNA’s 2013 Volunteers of the Year was UAWV member Bob Dorenfeld. Bob was recognized for his development of a trails database for use by UAWV volunteers in tracking their work on the trails. Bob also assisted the GARNA staff with implementation of a constituent management program. Congratulations Bob!

UAWV now has over 60 volunteers. In 2013, volunteers donated 1,000 hours of time and worked on over 750 miles of trail.

Chapter Organization

The US Forest Service representatives and GARNA worked together to form the Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers – building on the foundation of the former Arkansas Headwaters Wilderness Partners organization. The group meets regularly, has a Board of Directors and originally received organizational advice and training from a long established wilderness service group – the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers.

Board of Directors

Board Chair – Dan Murray
Vice Chair – Mal Sillars
Recorder – Kate Garwood
Forest Service Liaison – Tom Easley
Trails Report Manager – Bob Dorenfeld
GARNA Liaison – Kate Garwood



GARNA is the Arkansas River Valley’s only local broadly focused conservation and educational institution with non-profit status. GARNA is supported by membership fees…will you join us?

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