Trail use surges & volunteer efforts are limited: the time is now to support our trails
The Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund is launching the first “Meter Match” challenge, encouraging visitors and locals to support trails that have seen a surge in use since COVID-19. In addition to dramatically increased pressure on local trails, volunteer organizations’ efforts that typically complete trail work have been limited or completely halted.
The $15,000 Meter Match will support maintenance efforts and prevent our treasured trails from falling into disrepair.
According to a survey by American Trails, work and maintenance on trails nationally have been significantly impacted. Locally, the nonprofit organization Routt County Riders host trail workdays with limited staff and volunteers. Friends of Wilderness, another local nonprofit, has not yet been approved to begin their trail maintenance efforts and patrol on nearby wilderness trails. These two organizations are responsible for cutting hundreds of trees and clearing dozens of trails. The reduction in volunteer hours will be difficult to make up. Laraine Martin, Executive Director of Routt County Riders said, “The pandemic has created a perfect storm for trail maintenance. We are unable to host in-person fundraisers, our volunteer trail workdays are somewhat limited, and the trails are getting far more use than usual. Visitors and locals are starved for ways to get out of the house and enjoy nature in a safe and distanced way – this is evident in the uptick in pressure on our riding areas.”
Even before the current challenges became a reality, the Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund is proving to be a vital supporter of trails. Grant funding awarded during the fall 2019 grant cycle helps employ an additional United States Forest Service staff for summer 2020 to work on trail maintenance. This supplementary position would not be possible without donations to the Fund.
With the surge in usage on local trails and reductions in human resources and funding to support the trails, there has never been a better time to give. “The new campaign is about encouraging trail users to realize that trail maintenance is not free,” said Helen Beall, Community Impact Manager at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. “The meters have been a popular and easy way for people who use and care about our trails to give, and this collaborative gift match doubles the impact.”
The $15,000 Meter Match comes from the Marc Sehler Memorial Fund ($10,000) and the Jeff and Alisa Merage Family Fund ($5,000). The matching challenge honors Marc’s lifetime of work dreaming, building, and maintaining trails. Through his legacy, local trails will continue to inspire smiles and create memories for generations to come. The campaign begins on July 1st and runs through the summer. All donations made through Donation Stations and online at yvcf.org/trails are matched up to $15,000. Donation Stations, which look like parking meters, are bright orange and located at popular local trailheads (Blackmer, Spring Creek, Howelsen stables) and along the Yampa River Core Trail. There is also a mobile station occasionally located at Dry Lake Trailhead. Yard signs will be placed at each meter to encourage donating.
The Trail Maintenance Endowment Fund provides a permanent funding source for maintaining non-motorized trails in Routt and Moffat counties. The goal is to grow the Fund to $1.5 million over the next ten years; as of July 1st, 2020, the Fund has a balance of $590,364.