By Stacy Boone
Special to The SUN
Save the date — March 10. Be involved in making a difference on our local trails.
As you know, the beetle infestation of the past several years has had a tremendous impact on the openness of our local trails. As fast as we cut out trees, more are falling. But, we can’t let a season pass without crews putting saws to wood.
Join like-minded individuals, seeking to make a difference on our backcountry trails, at the BigGame Forever (BGF) banquet and fundraiser at the Ross Aragon Community Center at 5 p.m.
Tickets are available for $85/single, $135/couple and $680 for a table that sits eight. All tickets include an annual membership to BGF and raffle tickets to be used at the banquet. Tickets can be purchased online at BigGameForever.org or by contacting Dick Ray at 749-4148 or Stacy Boone at 946-5001.
Making a difference on our local trails begins with community. In November 2017, a collection of individuals determined to make a difference with the accessibility of our trails. Soon, the Wilderness Trails Forever Campaign (WTFC) was formed and, through the combined efforts of local trail enthusiasts including guides, outfitters, horsemen and hunters, the first fundraiser has become a reality with the March 10 banquet and fundraiser.
We are excited to be sharing this effort with BGF, a nonprofit organization based in Colorado, that recognizes the damage lack of access to our backcountry trails has for recreationists.
The 2018 WTFC is striving towards raising $40,000 that will be used to engage a four-week youth corps crew. The crew’s focus is solely on the cutting out and clearing downed trees on our nonmotorized trails with the use of cross-cut and chain saws. We believe these crews can make the biggest positive resource impact on our public lands. Our target fundraising goal is ambitious, and we are optimistic that donors value the focus and are in strong support of maintaining trail accesses for the entire community.
This is why we are working so hard to make a difference with all of our donations:
• The Weminuche Wilderness, the largest wilderness area in Colorado, was the epicenter of the spruce beetle epidemic in southwest Colorado, which began in the early 2000s. By 2015, on the Pagosa District, nearly 90 percent of the spruce-fir forest was dead.
• Sections of trail can now average 40-80 downed trees per mile; that figure increases to 100 downed trees per mile on trails that are not cleared annually.
• In our area, we have 102 trails and 687 miles of trails that beckon users to spend their recreational time, many of which are clogged with downed trees.
• Approximately 50 percent of our wilderness trails were cleared in 2017.
We look forward to your joining the banquet and fundraiser. Unable to join but want to donate? Donations are also being accepted at PagosaTrails.org/Wilderness Campaign. Your donation is tax deductible and is greatly appreciated.
For more information, please visit pagosatrails.org/about/ or you can contact Boone, president, at 946-5001 or Info@StepOutdoorsColorado.com.
By Stacy Boone