A record snowpack in Colorado from the 2018-2019 winter resulted in epic skiing, amazing rafting conditions, and a nightmare for many trail maintenance organizations. With over 700 percent of the average yearly snowpack still sticking around into June and beyond, the trail maintenance season would be drastically shortened. To add to the shorter season, that level of snowpack caused numerous avalanches. Avalanches leave a path of destruction behind them, and massive debris fields in front of them.

The Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest in Western Colorado was one of the forests that was facing an unprecedented summer of work on top of their normal summer maintenance projects. However, thanks to a partnership between the GMUG Forest, National Forest Foundation (NFF), and Southwest Conservation Corps, much of the needed maintenance on these trails was completed in summer 2019!

Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) jumped in for trail maintenance and reconstruction on the Norwood Ranger District outside Telluride, Colorado and focused on the regular trail maintenance while the GMUG trail maintenance team was able to work on the areas that were impacted by the heavy avalanche season.

A small yet determined group of young men and women from across the country donned their yellow SCC hardhats and set off into the Norwood district to clear 18,000 feet of corridor, maintain 1,228 feet of tread, install nine drainage structures, and repair three more. This was completed over eight days by just six crew members.

As a result of their work, trails in this area were able to be opened up and safer for the public to use after the snowy winter! This would not have been possible without the project grant from the National Forest Foundation or the assistance from the GMUG National Forest and their partners as well.

Trail tread before restoration.

Trail tread after restoration.

This project was supported through the NFF's Ski Conservation Fund.

SCC operates conservation service programs across Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico that engage youth, young adults, and veterans on public lands. SCC works to foster inclusive opportunities and collaborative partnerships for positive growth through development of knowledge, leadership, and compassion towards our lands and communities.

National Forest Foundation