Volunteers Lead Restoration Effort In Wilderness Areas Affected by Cameron Peak Fire

Written by Poudre Wilderness Volunteers member Jeffrey Randa. The Poudre Wilderness Volunteers recently launched a campaign to help with land restoration in the aftermath of the Cameron Peak fire.

The Cameron Peak fire started August 13, 2020, and was declared 100% contained on December 2, nearly four months later. In the end it became the largest fire in Colorado history, covering over 208,000 acres with more than 121 miles of identified burned trails. Forty one miles of those designated as severely burned are located in the Rawah, Comanche Peak and Neota Wilderness areas located in the Roosevelt National Forest.

In the aftermath of this fire, the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers (PWV) organization is actively and aggressively developing trail restoration plans for these burned areas. Past fire history cleanup shows that one the largest risks that needs to be addressed are trees. There will be hundreds of fallen or weakened trees that need to be removed to make the trails safe for all trail runners, hikers and backpackers.

PWV is a volunteer group of over 300 individuals, with twenty-five years of experience working the trails. Their involvement includes serving as rangers for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), launching both foot and stock patrols to survey trail conditions, removing dangerous and fallen trees, repairing bridges and recruiting members of the local communities to safely assist crews in trail building.

PWV is currently working with the U.S. Forest Service to specifically evaluate certain at-risk trails and bridges and determining the priorities and plan of attack. Given their long history of supporting the U.S. Forest Service, they intend to leverage past experiences. They recall all too well seeing the damage of the 2012 High Park fire, spending 3,700 hours to restore 14 miles of trails and to build seven bridges.

Dealing with the impact and magnitude of this fire is way beyond normal everyday efforts and they need all the help they can get to restore these trails. To financially assist their efforts, they are launching a GoFundMe campaign, Reopen Your Favorite Trails. The goal is to raise $25,000 and all donations will be devoted to hiring additional labor and buying supplies. They have well-trained members who are focused on trail restoration. These folks will manage the additional labor. All of the bridge repairs require custom cut lumber, which has doubled in price, primarily due to COVID-19 driven home renovation projects.

Crowdfunding is made up of a lot of people donating a little bit, so every single dollar matters! Here is how you can help:

  • Donate: Reopen Your Favorite Trails
  • Share: Email your friends this link Reopen Your Favorite Trails or post Reopen Your Favorite Trails on your favorite social media site.

We all get absorbed by the beauty, the expansive views and the freedom to explore in the wilderness. Many, many people were impacted by the severity of the Cameron Peak fire. After the High Park restoration experiences, we all learned it takes a community to rehabilitate the forests. PWV has excellent relationships, and will work closely, with the Canyon Lakes Ranger District, other land stewardship groups and the local communities. We know there are several years of effort ahead of us, but the goal is to get to work as quickly as possible and help all outdoor enthusiasts get back on the trails.