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Two articles on volunteer trail rangers

Volunteer "Rangers" to Hit Cherry Creek Trail

By Richard Bangs

Map of Colorado

This year there is a new form of wildlife on the Cherry Creek Trail in Parker and Douglas County. Roaming the 14 miles of trail will be 22 volunteer trail rangers. Clad in bright burgundy T-shirts and ball caps, the rangers, who are aged 18 to senior citizens, will be there to help trail users who might need assistance, Douglas County Parks and Open Space Division Director Ron Benson told the Parker Breakfast Club Monday.

The rangers will also greet trail users, be on the lookout for vandalism, check for trail wear and tear and make note of trail users who do not follow trail etiquette. "They will be the eyes and ears" for those responsible for the trail, said Benson.

Benson said that with the use of the trail increasing, everything from in-line skaters, families, walkers, runners, bicyclists, and equestrians, it is hoped the trail ranger program will improve trail safety and enjoyment. He said that while he was with the Jefferson County parks department there was a similar program of "Park Hosts" which worked very well.

Cherry Creek Trail Rangers recently received a four-hour training session in which they were familiarized with the trail and what to do in the event of an incident. Each ranger will carry a backpack which contains a cell phone, first aid kit, bicycle tire pump and patch kit and other items to help trail users.

Benson emphasized the trail rangers were not expected to treat serious accident victims or respond to criminal behavior. "If it's more than a cut finger, that's why they have the cell phone," he said. Trail rangers will check in at the Parker Police Department, get their pack and head for the trail, where they will proceed with their own activity, hiking, riding, bird watching, or whatever. "We have trail rangers who are trail users, they will be out there anyway," Benson said.

After their time on the trail the rangers will return to the Parker Police Department and fill out a short report on their observation. Rangers have been told to watch for tendencies, Benson said, to see if trouble spots are appearing, such as graffiti, or loitering.

The Cherry Creek Trail is a joint effort of four entities to link Cherry Creek and Castlewood Canyon State Parks with a multi-use trail. The 24-mile stretch, all but 5 miles in Douglas County, has about 14 miles of continuous trail, about 8.5 miles in Parker. The trail also is complete in both parks. Trail needs to be built in Aurora, Arapaho County and parts of Douglas County. Benson said.

The trail now ends at the Pinery where there is a one-mile gap to a section that ends at Castle Oaks Drive.

Benson said he hopes there will be large sections of trail built soon connecting the isolated Colorado 86 section with Castlewood Canyon State Park. That will happen after a lawsuit is settled over a proposed gravel mine expansion at the McLain Pit, he said.

For more information: Ron Benson, Douglas County Parks, PO Box 1390, Castle Rock CO 80104 (303) 660-7490


Mountain Bikers Patrol National Forest Trails in Buffalo Creek Area

The Front Range Mt Bike Association (FRMBA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have concluded an agreement that will place organized volunteer assistance in the popular Buffalo Creek area of Pike National Forest. MtB mounted patrollers will offer help and guidance to visitors on weekends and holidays through Labor Day.

"The #1 goal of the patrol is to help ensure that Buffalo Creek trails and campgrounds continue to be great places for outdoor, getaway opportunities," according to Keith Clarke, Co-Manager of the Front Range Mountain Bike Patrol. "On our mountain bikes we can cover a lot of miles. We'll be available to all park visitors, and we're trained to help everybody have the right kind of recreation experience," adds Co-Manager, Stu Miller.

Popularity of the area among hikers, campers, mountain bikers, and equestrians has stretched USFS staff resources in the Pine district. And, this has been a busy summer in the environmentally sensitive area, recovering from last year's ecological trauma. The fire and flood have created the need to close some areas of the park while nature heals her wounds. Patrollers will help folks avoid affected areas and perhaps explore areas they haven't experienced in the past.

Patrollers, recognized by uniform jerseys and handle bar mounted placards, will represent the Forest Service. The patrol is not an enforcement authority, but will offer non-confrontational advice to people seen violating park rules. This includes conduct of hikers, cyclists and equestrians on shared-use trails. Training Director Crag Loomis comments, "We are not enforcers. We will only approach people with friendly words and a smile. If more than that is needed, we pull back and notify the proper authority".

Patrollers will travel in pairs from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, and holidays. Training took place in May. Volunteer and patroller applications are still being accepted.

For more information contact Keith Clarke (303) 798-9727; e-mail: Clarkie283@aol.com

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