Work Parties

Volunteers "gettin dirty" with some concrete block.
Volunteers "gettin dirty" with some concrete block.

Yes, you too can help maintain Rampart whether you ride a dirt bike, ATV or anything else! Volunteer assistance is needed for Trail Maintenance work on the motorized (OHV) trails in the Rampart Range Motorized Recreation area of the Pike National Forest. Much of the trail maintenance is handled by volunteers "on the ground" at our work parties. It's your chance to get in and do your part to "give back" to an area we all can enjoy. The work takes place in the morning, then the afternoon is free to ride or just take a nap. Local dealerships sponsor the work parties and sometimes include additional benefits for participants. There is some work involved, but they can also be a lot of fun!

A full crew at a work party.
A full crew stops for a pose at a work party.

 

Work parties meet at the Flat Rocks campground entrance parking area at 9am the morning of the work party. In most cases, the work will be performed out on the trails, so be prepared to ride to the specific location requiring work. We provide the tools and the safety gear, but you may want to bring work gloves if you'd rather not use riding gloves. Dress appropriate to be able to ride a potentially long distance and perform physical labor in whatever conditions may exist. Projects range from repair of washed out trails, rebuilding of bridges, erosion control, reroutes, closing renegade trails, debris removal, etc. For directions to Flat Rocks campground, see the camping information section.

See the event calendar page for upcoming work party dates.
See photos of past work parties here.

Committee member Rod Mead cooks up some dogs for a work party. May 2005. Photo courtesy Mike Cussins. Ready to get the job done. June 2005. Photo courtesy Mike Cussins. Volunteers work on shoring up a washed out section of trail. June '05. Photo courtesy Mike Cussins. Committee member Devin Jones heads up to cut some trees. May '05. Photo courtesty Mike Cussins.


SWECO Dozer Work

SWECO 450 Trail Dozer.
SWECO 450 Trail Dozer.

Through the OHV grant process and your contributions, the Rampart Range Motorcycle Management Committee has also purchased two SWECO trail dozers which are used throughout the Rampart area and are sometimes leased for use in other trail areas as well. Funding for operation of the dozers is provided through OHV grants and cooperation with the US Forest Service. In addition, the Forest Service has a crew that works throughout the summer to provide trail maintenance, repair, and upkeep of the facilities.


Forest Thinning

The "Hydro-axe" in action taking down a tree. Photo courtesy Corey Corbett.
The "Hydro-axe" in action taking down a tree. Photo courtesy Corey Corbett.

For the last couple seasons, you may have noticed temporary closures on some of the trails due to fuels reduction. The Forest Service has contracted with a company to improve the health and safety of the forest by a process called "fuels reduction" where excess trees are ground up as mulch. In order to accomplish this, they use a machine called a "Hydro-Axe", which resembles a giant weed whacker on steroids. This intimidating looking machine will pulverize an entire tree in seconds and fling debris for 100's of yards in every direction. While they are operating, the crews close nearby trails in order to keep people out of the line of fire. You don't want to be in the vicinity while they are operating. Please observe the trail closures as they are for your own safety. 

The thinning process serves multiple purposes. It thins the trees and allows more sunlight in to make the remaining trees healthier, and it reduces fuelwood, thereby making future fire less intense. Normally mother nature handles this job in the form of forest fires. When they happen frequently enough, forest fires are relatively small and don't burn as fiercely, and they actually make the forest healthier in the long run. They thin out the older, sick trees and give newer, stronger growth a chance.

Up close and personal with the Hydro-axe. Photo courtesy Corey Corbett.
Up close and personal with the Hydro-axe. Photo courtesy Corey Corbett.

For many years it was the policy of land managers to prevent forest fires in order to preserve property and public safety. However they are now learning that when nature can't do it's own natural thinning, fuel woods accumulate, disease starts to take over and we end up with an unhealthy forest just waiting for the right time to become an inferno. The Hayman Fire is an example of what happens when there is too much fuel laying around. The fire burns too hot for anything to survive and 1000's of acres are lost with millions of dollars in property damage. Some believe that a prescribed burn that had happened a couple years before was one of the main contributing factors to Hayman stopping where it did. Once it reached the area that had been thinned, it ran out of fuel to keep going and became easier to get under control.

A section of forest after the Hayman Fire. July 2002. Photo courtesy Steve York.
A section of forest after the Hayman Fire. July 2002. Photo courtesy Steve York.

The mulching machines are a much slower, although more selective method of doing the same job. The operators can pick and choose which trees should be removed and there is little chance of the process getting out of hand. The aftermath can look like a war zone however. If you've ever ridden a trail that has recently been cleared by a Hydro-axe, you'd know it. There are chunks of debris everywhere and much more daylight than we are used to seeing in Rampart! Use caution when riding in these areas as some of the debris can throw a bike in unexpected directions if hit at the wrong angle. Eventually all the debris will decompose and provide mulch that will help sustain the growth that remains.

View of Hayman smoke plume from Castle Rock. Photo courtesy Steve York.
View of Hayman smoke plume from Castle Rock. Photo courtesy Steve York.

To find out more about how you can help, come to one of our meetings or email us with your questions.

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