On August 22, eight members of Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers, along with Wilderness Ranger, Steve Sunday, from the Leadville Ranger District, cleared the North Halfmoon Trail of avalanche debris deposited earlier this season. There were five separate debris fields across the trail near the Mt Massive summit trail intersection. The site was about 1.3 miles from the trailhead at an elevation of 11,300 feet. Most of the work required cutting small trees and branches and dragging debris off the trail. There were a few larger trees that required the use of crosscut saws. UAWV has a number of USFS certified sawyers. The entire project was completed in a few hours.
A crew from Upper Arkansas Wilderness Volunteers recently cleared the Hartenstein Lake Trail of avalanche debris. An avalanche, just to the north of the trail, created three separate debris fields spread out over about one quarter mile of trail near the lake. The debris consisted of trees of all sizes, broken branches and lots of snow. The 5-member crew cleared 26 trees and cleaned up the trail tread, with remaining snow expected to melt in a few weeks.
The avalanche was discovered a few days earlier during a spring trail inspection. On that day 15 smaller trees were removed. A large avalanche to the west of the lake sent massive amounts of debris into the lake, that will remain, but is quite a sight.
As the 2019 season begins, UAWV will be busy hiking as many trails as possible as early as possible so that the inventory of work to be done can be established. This is an important project where all members can collect valuable information by just hiking and logging their findings. After that, work projects can be developed. Because the 14er and lake trails are so popular, we try to get them cleared first.
Winter 2018-19 was a hard one in the Upper Arkansas Valley. Lots of snow in the mountains created avalanches in areas where they have not been seen in decades. High country areas that we have been able to access show trails under avalanche debris as well as downfall due to snow load, wind and spruce beetle. It will be a busy season for our sawyers.
Last year UAWV assisted the Leadville Ranger District with the Solitude Monitoring project. Solitude is an important quality of wilderness, so monitoring it is a measure of how well particular wilderness areas are coping with the outside world. This summer, UAWV will again be assisting with Solitude Monitoring in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
Upper Arkansas Valley Wilderness Volunteers was represented by Dan Murray and Mal Sillars at the Central Colorado Wilderness Workshop in Fort Collins in April. Dan participated in a panel discussion and presented a look at how trail agencies here worked together to fund a trail program.
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.
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:
- hike trails, engage visitors and report trail problems
- check and maintain trail and trail head signs
- locate, inventory and, where appropriate, eliminate backcountry campsites
- assist with special U.S.F.S. projects
- do trail clearing and tread maintenance
- 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Trails Reporting database can be found HERE.
Our Member Discussion forum can be found HERE.
In Spring 2012, U.S. Forest Service representatives and GARNA worked together to form the Upper Arkansas, 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 – Mal
Vice Chair – Dan Murray
Recorder – Kate Garwood
Forest Service Liaison – Tom Easley
Trails Report Manager – Bob Dorenfeld
Board Member – Kathy Hoerline
GARNA Liaison – Kate Garwood