CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. -- On the mountain trails high above metro Denver, Coloradans enjoy fresh air, crystal clear streams and rivers, and views unlike anywhere else in the world.
“About 70 to 90% of Coloradans recreate every week outdoors,” said Anna Zawisza, acting CEO of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.
It’s for that reason there is such a need for trail maintenance.
“But guess how many who recreate outdoors actually volunteer?” Zawisza said. “It’s less than 1%. That’s a statistic that we’re trying to flip.”
“We ask people to come out and give one day of doing trail maintenance, which will entitle you to hike, bike or ride anywhere in the state of Colorado guilt free because you now know what it takes to maintain the trails,” said Steve West, a 30-year volunteer with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.
On Thursday, West was teaching fresh faces like Emma Patterson how to clear a downed tree from a popular trail
“It feels so good to be helping,” Patterson said. “I enjoy these trails a lot, so I want to give back.”
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado helps to keep Colorado colorful, beautiful and enjoyable.
“We do about 100 projects every year between April and October with about 5,000 volunteers,” Zawisza said.
“Today, we’re working on the Chicago Lakes Trail to do some urgent restoration work,” said Kellie Flowers, senior marketing and communications manager for Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. “Whatever you care for and care about takes maintenance.”
“I have a whole new appreciation when I’m on a trail and I see a cross-cut log,” Patterson said.
This group also helps with fire mitigation efforts and restoration efforts after devastating wildfires.
“2020 was a record-breaking year for wildfires,” Flowers said. “And, unfortunately, we’re seeing that more and more. Fires getting bigger, more common, more frequent.”
“We need tools, we need trucks,” Zawisza said. “If you are able to remove some of the dead trees and branches, then when a fire does go through – there’s not as much fuel, so it doesn’t burn as hot, it’s easier to contain.”
Recently, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado lost a truck.
“The engine failed,” Zawisza said. “So, an unexpected expense right at the beginning of this season.”
As another wildfire season approaches, the devastation of last year’s fires remains fresh.
To date, Denver7 viewers have given more than $300,000 to the Denver7 Gives Wildfire Fund.
Donations are still pouring in for victims and causes related to last year’s fires, which included the three largest wildfires in recorded history in Colorado.
As a result – we continue identifying causes and those in need of help, including Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.
“Anna and Kellie, we heard you lost a truck, so on behalf of Denver7 and Denver7 Gives, we’d like to present you with this check for $10,000,” said Denver7 reporter Russell Haythorn.
“Thank you so much,” Zawisza said. “We really appreciate it. When we lose (a truck) we’re really down in our ability to take care of the outdoors.”
“We are so appreciative of this huge donation,” Flowers said. “It’s going to go a long way in keeping Colorado awesome. It’s amazing seeing the generosity of so many Coloradans.”
Denver7 features the stories of people who need help and now you can help them with a cash donation through Denver7 Gives. One hundred percent of contributions to the fund will be used to help people in our local community.