The 2016 field season was the biggest in the organization’s history in terms of staffing and project load. In all, we estimate to have grown by about 120% with the addition of 8 new project sites and the doubling of our seasonal field staff. We led a total of 444 workdays (many happening on the same weekend days) with a combined total of on-the-ground work exceeding 33,000 hours (16+ years worth of work). One major highlight included RMFI being awarded a multi-year stewardship contract through the City of Colorado Springs to lead stewardship efforts on open spaces acquired through revenue from the Trails, Open Space, and Parks tax. Other project highlights of the season included:
- Completing critical trail improvements to the popular Silver Cascade Falls Trail in North Cheyenne Cañon, the Edna Mae Trail in Palmer Park, and Barr Trail.
- Completing construction of the new 1.0-mile Buckhorn Connector Trail in the Bear Creek Watershed.
- Completing our 19th year of stewardship work in the Garden of the Gods.
- Beginning construction of the new, highly-anticipated Dixon Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
- Planting 1,000 willows in the Waldo Canyon burn scar to help restore a critical riparian area.
- Building sustainable climbing access trails at Indian Creek and Shelf Road recreation areas.
- Beginning new stewardship projects in our City’s open space properties including Stratton Open Space, Ute Valley, Blodgett Peak, and Red Rock Canyon.
- Making significant progress on our multi-year project to reconstruct the summit trail to Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
- Leading the 5th annual Pikes Peak Regional Crew Leader Training program.
- Completed the 15th annual Earth Corps program, RMFI’s signature college-accredited field studies program.
- Beginning a new citizen science monitoring program.
Final volunteer and worker statistics:
- Total Volunteers: 2,006
- Total Workdays: 444
- Volunteer Hours: 14,499
- Volunteer Value: $375,524
- RMFI Crew Hours: 13,084
- Youth Engaged (8-24): 950
- Conservation Corps Members: 89
- Community Groups and Schools: 72
- Veterans/Active Military: 191
- Project Sites: 21
- Total On-the-Ground Work Hours: 33,752
We are well into our planning for the 2017 field season and it’s shaping up to be just as big if not bigger than next year, which means a greater reach and impact in our community. Some things to look forward to next year is the start of a new citizen science monitoring program and also making a big push to finish the new Dixon Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, which will open up new and unparalleled access in the southwestern part of town. There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved, and we are super excited about what lies ahead and hope you’ll join us for the ride.