National Forest Foundation

Finding Fourteeners…and Ticking Them off Our Stewardship Bucket List

Hiking and Backpacking, Treasured Landscapes, NFF Grant Partners and Projects

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You may have noticed that we at the NFF have a little bit of a thing for Fourteeners – specifically the 48 14,000-foot peaks rising from Colorado’s National Forests. Sure, we join the rest of Colorado (and the world) in keeping a Fourteener hiking bucket list, with the goal to tick off a few each year. But we’re focused on our stewardship bucket list at the moment – an ambitious, exciting scope of work we’re calling Find Your Fourteener.

With the Forest Service and nine other outstanding stewardship organizations, the NFF launched the Find Your Fourteener campaign in 2017 to harness our collective expertise to help ensure sustainable access to Fourteeners. The Find Your Fourteener campaign goal is to increase the pace and scale of improvements to sustainable recreation opportunities on Colorado’s Fourteeners.

As the number of visitors to Fourteeners continues to climb (334,000 annual hiker use days and counting, according to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative), the impacts to trails and fragile high-alpine ecosystems have outpaced the Forest Service and existing partners’ abilities to address the mounting conservation needs with a “business as usual” approach. Fourteeners are being loved to death.

To address these challenges, we’re working together to develop new partnerships, build stewardship and volunteer capacity, and increase the pace and scale of on-the-ground trail improvement projects.

And we’ve been busy.

Here’s what’s on our Fourteeners stewardship bucket list in 2019:

Quandary Peak, one of the initial priority peaks, has hit the ‘honor roll’ per se – the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative moved the Peak Report Card letter grade from a C to an A!

Quandary Peak

​Please join us in celebrating Quandary Peak on June 21st in Breckenridge at Broken Compass Brewing from 2-5 PM!​

Alpine restoration work will continue on Colorado’s sentinel, Mount Elbert, led by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Wildland Restoration Volunteers, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and Get Outdoors Leadville! We’re thrilled to be working closely with Lake County, the local community, and the Leadville District of the Forest Service to bring the 2019 scope of work to life, including several alpine restoration volunteer opportunities.

Mt. Elbert

A new multi-year effort to realign and construct the Devil’s Playground Trail to Pikes Peak is kicking off in June! Led by the Rocky Mountain Field Institute trail crew and an awesome all-women-identifying crew from Mile High Youth Corps, the 2019 scope of work will span 11 weeks and culminate with a collaborative volunteer event on August 17-18.

Pikes Peak Devil's Playground

On Kit Carson Peak/Challenger Point, Phase II of the highly technical trail construction project continues with Rocky Mountain Field Institute leading the charge, bolstered by a Southwest Conservation Corps crew. For the second year, partners are organizing a volunteer-led base camp pack-in effort.

Kit Carson Peak (courtesy of Rocky Mountain Field Institute)

There are some new players on the block as well. Thanks to support from REI, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative is leading a major maintenance and trail construction effort on Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, located just west of Denver. In partnership with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Wildland Restoration Volunteers and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the 2019 scope of work includes several volunteer opportunities.

Greys and Torreys Volunteers

Finally, a new multi-year maintenance project – designed to get ahead of the biggest use impacts – will also begin on Uncompahgre Peak and Wetterhorn Peak, located in the San Juan Mountains near Lake City. The NFF is helping support a small Colorado Fourteeners Initiative crew who will be working alongside a Southwest Conservation Corps youth conservation corps crew to mitigate hiker impacts in the alpine and maintain the trails to these two remote, incredibly scenic peaks.

We can’t wait for the 2019 field season to begin so that we can continue chipping away at our stewardship bucket list. Would you like to join us? Visit www.nationalforests.org/fourteener to learn more about how you can volunteer, donate or otherwise help care for Colorado’s beloved Fourteeners.


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