Group Work Day: Women for Wild Lands

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By Tanya Stevens; Marketing and Publications Committee Member

Why do people volunteer for Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV)?

We each have our own reasons, but Women for Wild Lands (W4WL) joined to connect with other like-minded organizations working towards protecting public lands. Women for Wild Lands itself is actually a citizen’s movement bringing together outdoor enthusiasts in keeping “public lands in public hands.”

As she prepared for the Women’s March in Grand Junction last Saturday, Julie Wilie, founder of W4WL, spoke with me about the group’s experience on the trail. When presented with several trail adoption options, she jumped on the choice of Avalanche Creek Trail for the citizen’s movement. Avalanche Creek Trail epitomized the perfect trail that W4WL could help maintain for the public. Close by Carbondale, Avalanche Creek is a centrally-located trail that is easily accessible and has moderate terrain suitable for a diverse group of ages and abilities. The trail also has some land use issues, involving camping, parking, and quarry operations, which the citizen’s movement deeply cared about. The hardest part for the group was deciding on which responsibility to focus, and at last they chose to keep it simple - make sure that the trail itself is well maintained and accessible to all.

Guided by RFOV’s trail crew leader Carl Nelson, the group of ten participants hiked approximately three miles in and worked back towards the trailhead. Their main job involved trimming the overgrowth that had crept into the trail. The experience proved to be fun, invigorating, and a great way to connect and bond with each other. As a group committed to protecting public lands, core members of W4WL came to see the trail as their office. The volunteers discovered that their favorite tool was the handsaw, and their favorite task was sawing the downed trees that fell down across the trail! At the end of the day, they felt satisfaction from seeing what they had accomplished.

Throughout the year, W4WL aims to empower women to take leadership and to give voice to public lands. The group however looks forward to returning annually to work on the Avalanche Creek Trail, for the experience allows the members to ground themselves once again in their core purpose: protecting public lands so that we all may be able to enjoy it.

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