Effects of the pandemic can be far-reaching, surprising or even just weird.
As a nonprofit organization dedicated to trail work, restoration, and education—and located in White River National Forest, the country’s most visited forest—Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) actually engaged more community members in 2020 than in the previous year!
And while more people than ever are enjoying Colorado’s outdoors culture, RFOV aims to transform trail-users into trail-participants. There are several lessons RFOV has learned from the pandemic that have served to enhance their region’s culture of stewardship in 2021.
Streams not Spigots
Members of their community each feel differently about gathering in groups. It’s hard to triangulate ever-changing regulations with personal considerations and the unknown feelings of strangers. So instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, RFOV is working thematically to provide a stream of possibilities for engagement in the outdoors.
Take, for example, a post-fire burn area in the Grizzly Creek drainage: In 2021 they’ll offer an online town hall, an educational hike, a volunteer restoration project and an online book discussion. It’s all to create multiple points of entry into the same idea.
Accessibility Ain’t Just ADA
Not only are more people getting outdoors these days, but new people are getting outdoors in new ways. As a result of this pandemic boom, RFOV has prioritized access to the outdoors as a concern for everyone, expanding far beyond stereotypes of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, the RFOV’s Trails & Ways initiative has begun to create a network of trails that can challenge and accommodate sensory, motor, cognitive and physical concerns.
Too Many, Not Enough
RFOV recently completed a survey, the results of which are seemingly contradictory: For the majority of respondents, the greatest detractor to the outdoors is other trail-users, but most respondents actually requested more people on the trails. In summary, respondents said there are too many individuals, and not enough trained staff; too many people generally, not enough of specific people. So RFOV will spend more time in-person at popular trailheads, learning from trail-users, educating them about stewardship and offering opportunities to get involved in their shared outdoors.
From Aspen to Marble to Parachute, deserving causes are numerous and resources are limited. Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers appreciates the ongoing support of its contributors who make it possible to achieve their organizational mission. After all, stewardship, at its core, is the job of taking caring of the places that are important to us.
Learn more at rfov.org
Photo Caption: RFOV staff and volunteers restore Hanging Lake’s Spouting Rock trail in May, 2021.