The Canyon Lakes Ranger District is seeking 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.
Volunteers ski or snowshoe “with a purpose,” helping the Forest Service educate winter visitors and provide winter use statistics. Last year, 88 volunteers provided more than 3,000 hours of service and contacted more than 1,100 winter visitors – an incredible accomplishment for this organization.
Nordic rangers volunteer for many reasons, but one returning member summarized his reasons this way, “The best part of being a Nordic Ranger is the bringing together of like-minded people, who in turn reach out to all National Forest users. By promoting our passion to others who visit and use our wild lands, we encourage them to want to emulate our philosophy, so that our wild lands will be here forever and for all.”
To volunteer, participants take part in a minimum of four days patrolling and attend Forest Service-provided training. The kick-off meeting is Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, in Fort Collins. The required classroom training is Dec. 3, 6-9 p.m. and the required field training is Dec. 6 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, call Kristy Wumkes at 970-295-6721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with a general introduction to the program, the kick-off also introduces potential new members to many of our partner-organizations, such as Jax Outdoor Gear and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and to some of the returning Nordic rangers.
The popular Cameron Pass area includes trails bordering Highway 14 between Chambers Lake and Cameron Pass. The area receives adequate snow before many others and snow often remains after other areas have melted. For this reason, the number of winter recreationists at Cameron Pass continues to grow.
Many of the trails are in the Rawah and Neota Wilderness areas, where 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.
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.