With the support of the National Forest Foundation Ski Conservation Fund, the Shadow Mountain Crew of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy-Conservation Corps supported trail maintenance and improvement projects and forest restoration work. They worked alongside the U.S. Forest Service in the Sulphur Ranger District in the summer of 2018.
The crew’s trail maintenance work sent them into the Indian Peaks and Never Summer Wilderness areas to maintain 40 miles of trail along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the Bowen-Baker loop, and throughout the Arapaho National Recreation Area. Over these 40 miles, the crews removed over 250 downed trees from trail, maintained and installed 234 drains, and cleared 9.5 miles of trail corridor.
In addition to the maintenance work, the crew also participated in some unique projects. One of these was the destruction and removal of an illegal backcountry cabin built in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The cabin appeared to have been built for winter recreation (i.e. snowmobiling and skiing). Since it was built on National Forests without any communication or permitting by the Forest Service, the cabin was simply a large amount of litter.
Over the course of four days the crew deconstructed the cabin, placed the bulk of the building materials in slash piles to be burned, and hauled out more than 1,700 pounds of trash with the help of two llamas. This work provided a change of pace for the crew and reinforced the fact that our public lands are here to be protected and managed for all of us. By removing the illegal cabin, the crews helped to restore the ecosystem to provide wildlife habitat and improve forest health.
Beyond the cabin deconstruction, the crew also participated in Sulphur Ranger District Trails Smart Sizing Project. This project was approved in August 2017. It includes the construction of new multi-use trail systems and improved signage to help support recreational use, especially mountain bike and motor bike use, as well as protect the sensitive ecosystems surrounding popular trails.
During the first year of the project, the Shadow Mountain Crew helped remove seven outdated or damaged trail signs, install eight new signs, decommission several hundred feet of social trails, and clarify multiple trail intersections. All this work helps improve the visitor experience and mitigate future impacts by ensuring trails and trail junctions are well-defined. The Conservancy is excited to continue to support he Sulphur Ranger District Trails Smart Sizing Project in the years to come!