New Partnership Coordinator position is increasing capacity for public land stewardship

Outdoor recreation is a key part of life and the local economy in central Colorado but sustainable recreation opportunities rely on good management and stewardship of our public lands. Over 50 organizations and hundreds of volunteers in Chaffee and Lake Counties partner with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) each year to maintain trails, inventory campsites, repair fencing, survey wildlife, install signage and more. But it also takes agency time and money to manage these groups, schedule projects and ensure safe, high-quality work on the ground. With ever-tightening federal budgets, land managers are increasingly challenged to meet the needs of so many eager volunteer groups.

To address this gap in capacity, Allison Stewart will be serving as the Upper Arkansas Valley Public Lands Partnership Coordinator to help stewardship groups and individual volunteers complete projects on public lands. The position will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public stewardship projects on public lands in the area. Stewart has served in a similar role for the San Isabel Forest since 2014 and will now expand capacity to the BLM as well. In past years, she ensured that annual agreements and projects were set up for Forest Service volunteer groups, who added over 32,000 hours of volunteer labor in 2015 and 27,000 hours in 2016. The Recreation Staff and Volunteer Program were able to tackle priority projects that would not have been accomplished without the labor and dedication from these volunteers. The position will relieve the burden on agency staff to design and manage volunteer projects, and coordinate the multitude of volunteer efforts in our area. Stewart shared, “my primary desire in 2017 is to provide improved mechanisms through which people can productively engage in the outdoors on public lands.” With effective management, the added volunteer capacity will allow land managers to get to projects that wouldn’t be completed otherwise.

As the 2017 field season approaches, Stewart is aligning project schedules and looking for volunteers to participate in a variety of stewardship projects. Check out the calendar of activities at www.SLrdvolunteers.blogspot.com to see upcoming projects, needs, and partner group contact information. Allison Stewart, can be reached at [email protected] or 719-530-3977.

The Partnership Coordinator position is being hosted by the Colorado Mountain Club who is committed to supporting and enhancing sustainable recreation opportunities on public lands throughout the state. The Golden-based non-profit has been involved in recreation and conservation in the Colorado Mountains since 1912 and now has four Conservation Department staff members based in Chaffee County. For more on the club visit www.cmc.org or contact [email protected].

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