Behind the Scenes of the Recreational Trails Program

Colorado Parks and Wildlife's trail projects cover the state - from deserts, grasslands, forests, and cities to the peaks of our 14ers.
OHVs on newly completed trail work.
Riders enjoy recently completed trail improvements on a popular section of a Rio Grande National Forest trail.
125th Anniversary Logo

As a Trails Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), I am fortunate to work in one of the most renowned recreation destinations in the United States. Colorado trail projects cover the entire state, from deserts and grasslands to forests and major cities up to the peaks of 14ers. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Recreational Trails Program helps to fund trail projects through the administration of multiple grant programs. Part of my job is selecting grant award recipients, inspecting funded projects, and helping crews complete those projects. I regularly see how trails positively impact Colorado recreationists. And no recreation is possible without well-maintained resources and the teams who show up to keep them that way.

On a trip to the Rio Grande National Forest to work on a CPW-funded project, I met with the U.S. Forest Service’s heavy maintenance crew. The three-member crew consisted of a mini-excavator operator and two swampers (laborers who cut and move brush and debris). Tools are not always appropriate so a lot of the work is done by hand. It is a strenuous job with work days full of dirt, rock, muddy water and hot sun.

The crew gave me a tour of the project site to show me what they had accomplished. The lead operator pointed out an area where the crew reinforced a water crossing with rocks. When we asked the swamper how many rocks had been placed there, she responded with a surprisingly precise number. During the course of our day, she responded to this question time after time. The numbers would range from just a few up into the triple digits. Every time the response was quick, accurate, and with a smile. In awe, I asked if she counted the rocks at every project site. She simply replied, “Yes.” 

I will always remember the dedication of this volunteer, keeping count of individual rocks to complete a project to perfection. Many people have gone on to utilize the water crossing that she worked on, taking home memories of a spectacular day in nature. She is but one example of the hundreds of trail workers who dedicate their personal resources to maintaining Colorado’s natural resources.

Well-maintained resources are an important part of recreating in Colorado.

More Information on CPW’s Trails Program

CPW 125th Anniversary Logo

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is celebrating its 125th Anniversary throughout 2022 to honor the legacy of our agency and the talented staff who make fulfilling CPW’s important mission possible. For more stories like this, please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 125th Anniversary web page!

Written by Josh Stoudt. Josh is Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s trails coordinator for the Southwest Region.

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