Volunteer with the Forest Service while playing in the snow

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District is looking for volunteers to ski or snowshoe this winter in the busy Cameron Pass area, where 32 miles of trail can see over 300 skiers a day on a weekend.

This popular area includes trails that border Highway 14 between Chambers Lake and Cameron Pass. The area receives enough snow to ski before many others and snow often remains after others areas have lost their snow cover. For this reason, the number of winter recreationists at Cameron Pass continues to grow.

The Cameron Pass Nordic Ranger program began in 1992. Volunteers assist the Forest Service by skiing or snowshoeing area trails to provide safety, trail, and low-impact backcountry use information to winter enthusiasts; help maintain area ski trails and trailheads for safety; and gather visitor use information to aid in Forest Service planning. Some of the Nordic Rangers work as a winter trail crew to help keep the trails cleared of downed trees and limbs, install signs, and shovel paths to the restrooms.

Many of the trails are in the Rawah and Neota Wilderness areas, where many routes can be challenging. Backcountry skiing also includes risks inherent with winter conditions in the mountains, including extreme cold. These are some of the key reasons volunteers in the area are so valuable to its many users, especially those with little winter sports experience.

Volunteers on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District donated over 47,000 hours of service to the land and people of Larimer County in 2011, including more than 4,000 hours by the Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers, and the Forest Service cannot thank them enough for their dedication and hard work.

To volunteer, participants take part in a minimum of four days patrolling and attend a Forest Service-provided training. The kick-off meeting is November 16 at 6:30 p.m. at 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, in Fort Collins. The required training is November 30 and December 3. For more information or to RSVP, call Kristy Wumkes at 970-295-6721 or email kwumkes@fs.fed.us.

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