Friends of the Dillon Ranger District volunteers and staff work on improving the tread at Sapphire Point in June.
Elaine Collins/Friends of the Dillon District Ranger

For residents who want to get involved in local conservation this summer, Summit County will offer multiple volunteer opportunities on its public lands.

At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 20, the Forest Health Task Force met with county officials, the U.S. Forest Service, friends of the Dillon Ranger District, and others to discuss volunteer projects coming up. will take place in the coming months.

In a virtual demonstration, Emily Elder of the Eagle-Summit Wilderness Alliance detailed the opportunities within the organization. Currently, the band is accepting applications for its May 21 training session.

“Volunteer rangers, or VWRs, come in two forms: trailhead hosts and patrollers,” she said. “They both follow the same one-day training program and pursue the same objectives. Both are US Forest Service representatives who meet the public on the trails. The only difference is that hosts stay at the trailhead to engage and educate trail users going up and down the trail or parking lot, and patrollers travel the trails engaging in educating hikers and backpackers.

Volunteer rangers commit to a half-day training program, one hour online video introduction, one follow-up mentoring hike and four wilderness outings during the season. Elder said if anyone is looking for less of a time commitment, the covenant also has other options, including joining the sawmill team or going on a llama trip.

Lizzie Morrison, program coordinator for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, said one of the upcoming forest health projects will be the Trash the Trash Blue River Clean-up on Saturday, April 30 in Silverthorne. For the event, volunteers will be assigned a section of the river near the dam, Silverthorne Police Department and the Summit County Library lot to remove litter along the river.

Some projects limit the number of volunteers who can participate in each project, Morrison said, so interested participants are encouraged to check the group’s online schedule before showing up in case there are participation restrictions. The Blue River cleanup, however, has no limit, so volunteers are asked to report at 9 a.m. to the police department.

Other volunteer opportunities from Friends of the Dillon Ranger District include partnering with the Summit Seniors Groups on June 10, July 8, August 12 and September 2, then there will also be collaboration with the Task Force on forest health on forest monitoring in summer and falls.

“We got a big grant from the Dillon Reservoir Recreation Committee, and we’re going to work at the old Dillon Reservoir,” she said. “This whole trail system doesn’t have signage, so we’ll be ordering and installing signage.”

The volunteers who will partner with the Forest Service for its surveying projects will come from the Forest Health Task Force, and the group will likely consist of fewer than 20 people. The local Sierra Club is also looking to begin the process of restoring beaver habitats for possible reintroduction and will likely need volunteers as well. The Colorado Headwaters Group will kick off this project with a beaver forum on June 1 at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Breckenridge.

The easiest way to volunteer for projects is through one of Summit County’s conservation and environmental groups. For more information, such as schedules and other opportunities to get involved, visit their websites and volunteer pages.