With over $500,000 of investments, the National Forest Foundation is helping Colorado outdoor stewardship groups build and improve trails on the state’s most popular Fourteeners.
With significant support from corporate partners such as REI, local and regional foundations and small businesses, the National Forest Foundation is pleased to announce we are investing more than $500,000 on four Colorado 14,000-foot-peaks (“Fourteeners”) in 2018 – Mount Elbert, Pikes Peak, Quandary Peak, and Kit Carson Peak. These investments are part of a growing statewide campaign called “Find Your Fourteener.”
Find Your Fourteener is led by the National Forest Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and 12 Colorado outdoor stewardship organizations. Find Your Fourteener focuses on fixing the damage from eroded, gullied, and braided trails, improving and restoring fragile alpine habitat, and creating trail systems to enhance outdoor experiences for outdoor enthusiasts on Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks.
The National Forest Foundation is bringing together groups like the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Colorado-based youth corps, and many other conservation and volunteer organizations to collaborate in new ways that leverage organizational strengths and more strategically address the needs of Fourteeners across Colorado. Together, these partners are working to keep Fourteeners healthy and accessible as year-round popularity and use continues to increase dramatically.
Priority projects are taking place throughout 2018 on some of the most visited and iconic Fourteeners, including:
- Mount Elbert – Finishing a new trail from the South Elbert trailhead to the summit of Mt. Elbert. Mt. Elbert, the most popular Fourteener in Colorado (29k visits per year), suffers from braided and widening trails, destructive erosion, and degraded wildlife habitat. The new trails will be friendlier to hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians and ensure sustainable access for years to come.
- Quandary Peak – Completing important trail reconstruction and maintenance en route to the Quandary Peak summit, which receives approximately 20k visits each year. Partners are working together to ensure Quandary’s trail network can sustain year-round recreation.
- Pikes Peak – Partners and youth corps are beginning to restore rogue trails along the Devil’s Playground route to prepare for future trail realignment and reconstruction. The popularity of this trail is growing, but gullies, erosion and loose rock are creating safety hazards for hikers and jeopardizing the habitat of rare alpine plants and wildlife.
- Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point – Deep in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, the user-created social trail leading to Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak is gullied, unsafe, and unpleasant for hikers. The NFF and partners are working to complete a new trail to protect the fragile environment and enhance the recreational experience for climbers. The partners will test creative new approaches to engage volunteers in a wilderness setting.
Rebecca Davidson, the National Forest Foundation’s director of the Southern Rockies Field Program, shared the group’s enthusiasm: “The Find Your Fourteener campaign is all about innovating around stewardship and on-the-ground action, where the outcomes are constructing and maintaining miles of sustainable trails, increasing capacity to restore degraded and fragile alpine habitats, and getting more boots on the ground through volunteerism and collaborative efforts. The National Forest Foundation is inspired by our partners and proud to join them in this monumental effort.”
The growing needs of Fourteeners on National Forests across Colorado recently received national recognition as a priority under 2016’s National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado and Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming. The National Forest Foundation coordinated with partners to submit a letter of nomination for Colorado’s Fourteeners to be recognized through the Act.
Individuals who are interested in contributing to the Find Your Fourteener campaign are encouraged to become a Trailblazer in 2018. For a one-time donation, new Trailblazers will receive outdoor items from Colorado companies while helping the National Forest Foundation and partners take immediate action. Learn more: www.nationalforests.org/trailblazers.