July is here and that means it is peak season at RMFI. We have 99 project days scheduled for the month! How does RMFI fit 99 project days into a month with only 31 days? With eager volunteers, a knack for logistics, and a passion for the work that we do.
July and Pikes Peak go together like the summit and donuts. We started work on the Barr Trail at the end of June -- ring the bell for REI, Incline Friends, and LART Colorado Springs for their financial support of the project. While it can be a challenge to work on the Barr Trail in the summer due to the intense use, we like to get ahead of the upcoming race season to address trail issues that may cause problems for the conga line of competitors in the Barr Trail Mountain Race and the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. On the opposite side of the mountain, on the Devil's Playground Trail, Jacob, James, and Elise worked for 18 days in June alongside an all-female crew from Mile High Youth Corps. The crew will be back out for 19 days in July and we are still recruiting volunteers for workdays on the trail in July and August. What's more apropos than America's Mountain in July?
The RMFI Stewardship Crew has been plugging away at Stratton Open Space, where we are assisting the City of Colorado Springs with the construction of the Ponderosa Trail. In July, we will turn our attention to trail finishing on the Gold Camp Path that provides access from Gold Camp Reservoir to - where else - Gold Camp Road.
Earlier this year, we embarked on a new program with the U.S. Forest Service - Pikes Peak Ranger District. The Watershed Health Improvement Project (WHIP, for short) is a partnership with the PPRD and Colorado Springs Utilities that prioritizes fuels mitigation, erosion control, trail restoration, and other projects that protect our most important resource, water. We spent two weeks in June protecting riparian areas in the Bear Creek Watershed, and we will be returning to the Rampart Range area in late summer for aspen enhancement projects. This program is an opportunity for the partner organizations to test out cutting-edge techniques for watershed protection and forest health.
Earlier in June, Molly, who is the official bellringer at RMFI, spent a day with youth from John Adams Elementary School as part of the Generation Wild program. Gen Wild is a statewide program created by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to reconnect kids with nature and get them to experience the incredible benefits right outside. Molly and the kids visited Prospect Lake and learned about the effects of erosion in the region. Learn more about Generation Wild here.
While the record snowpack in the Sangre de Christo Mountains is a welcome relief from the drought and wildfires that plagued the state this time last year, we've had to reshuffle our schedule on Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point to give the snow additional time to runoff. So it goes sometimes with our line of work. Logistics are a challenge on alpine projects, and we owe a resounding ring of the cowbell to the 24 volunteers who helped us pack-in gear and supplies for the upcoming hitches in Willow Lake Basin.
Lastly, we would like to welcome Clara, Riley, Joseph, Quinn, Matt, and Leslie to the 18th annual Earth Corps program. These college students will spend 3 weeks in July learning, working, and recreating in the Sangre de Christos. You can learn more about the students and this year's program by clicking here.
More cowbell next time!