Story by Madeleine Ahlborn | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy trail volunteers
LET’S start from the question; What does it mean to be an outdoor steward?
Defined by the Environmental Protection Agency:
“Environmental stewardship is the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment.”
With the abundant use of our state, federal, and public lands it is so important to recognise the collective responsibility to care for our outdoor spaces we love so much. Commonly defined as a “steward” recreational users, both local and visitor, are sure to follow a base outdoor ethic of the Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. LNT is a key mindset to have in the wilderness, just like a hiker carrying the 10 Essentials when out on any adventure.
The responsibility of trail care falls on the shoulders of all who occupy these spaces. There are professionals who work in the realm of rebuilding/rehabilitation of trails and creating new trail systems such as U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Conservancy, SLVGO! Great Outdoor Action Team, just to name a few. Ultimately, though, it is a collective effort to maintain our wild and recreational spaces.
With all this in mind, it brings us to the main story of this article, the 2022 Shady Burro Enduro Trail Clean Up days. You’ll find beautiful examples of volunteerism, outdoor stewardship, and accountability for actions.
The weekend of August 6-7 the town of South Fork hosted the annual Shady Burro Enduro. With the race ended, the work did not stop for promoters and race volunteers. There have been volunteer trail crew work days to assess and fix damaged areas from the 300 race participants. The first clean-up days took place the weekend after the race. Here’s an account from Jud Barlow of JTB Racing Promotions:
JTB returned to South Fork yesterday as promised. We brought a team of 11 volunteers, with 4 Utility ATVS, and 7 motorcycles. We supplied rakes, shovels and picks and we worked all day on Bear Creek Trail #709. We spent a total of 88 Manhours performing tasks such as repairing all manmade and natural trail drainage, placing rock and dirt in all ruts and draining all remaining low points in the trail that we could get to drain. And also knocked down all corner berms that developed as a result of motorcycle usage.
We worked the entire section of the trail from the width restrictor at the bottom to the intersection with Forest Service Road 615.
We are planning on returning on 8/27 AND 8/28 with 3-4 large crews to work Groundhog, and also walk (hike) up Embargo with rakes, picks and shovels to rehab whatever we can there as well. If time allows on the same weekend, we will also go inspect and rehab Benino.”
The weekend of August 27-28 2022 volunteer teams continue the clean up and rehab of trail systems involved with this year’s Shady Burro Enduro. From the Shady Burro Enduro Facebook page:
“What a great day! 16 amazing volunteers came out and we were able to complete rehabilitation efforts on three key trails of concern! We actually ended up walking ALL of Embargo (4 people started at the bottom, and 4 from the top) and filled all the ruts. Drained the standing water and knocked down all the berms! We also had 2 crews on Groundhog and even had 2 guys ride up Cathedral and got it cleaned up! All in all, a huge success!”
This group of volunteers and Forest Service trail workers lead by example, not only to ensure that this event can continue for years to come but also encourage citizens and visitors alike to be good stewards of the land.
Barlow explained the point system within the race circuit, and how racers can earn what are called “worker points” within the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit (RMEC).
Essentially, racers can earn points up to the average of their 3 best finishes by helping with the clean-up after a race. The points are approved by race promoters and are logged by RMEC for the end-of-season score. These points may not mean a lot to some riders, but over the three different trail work days this month there were eight people earning worker points who participated in the 2022 Shady Burro Enduro.
Says Barlow, “As I’ve gotten older, it means way more when people can give up their time, it really means a lot.”
Time is a non-renewable resource, and when volunteers come together around land stewardship and camaraderie it instills a sense of pride that can be seen in the eyes of the community. This year the Shady Burro Enduro was able to earn a five-year permit to continue this epic tradition in these beautiful hills.
“It takes a demonstration of commitment in order for this to happen,” says Barlow.
A trail management plan was written and approved with participating agencies along with requirements that were distributed to riders before the race. Many people who are not from the Valley or areas that do not have access to public lands, like we are so fortunate to have, do not understand the importance of following stewardship ethics that come along with access to these spaces.