National Public Lands Day in Grand County Colorado is surpassed by none.   In our 23 years, we are officially the longest running, usually the largest event, and consistently produce more improvements for our National Lands than any other site in the country.  Our dedicated team currently unites the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife with the county-wide trails non-profit Headwaters Trails Alliance and more passionate individuals who truly care about stewardship of our public lands.  Hundreds of dedicated volunteers from various local community organizations and paid staff from each of the local Federal land agencies have enjoyed working together so much that most keep coming back.  That interest is generated from the variety of projects done each year – one led by each of our partners -including non-motorized trails (mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, Nordic skiing, etc.), motorized trails (ATVs, autos, snowmobiles, etc.), wildlife habitat protection, stream improvements and tree planting to rebuild our forests from the mountain pine beetle devastation.  NPLD Grand County could not achieve this awesome success without the generous support from our local businesses, towns and citizens of Grand County and surrounding areas.  The entire NPLD committee would like to extend our personal thanks to everyone for their dedication, enthusiasm and hard work in helping us care for our public lands.

On Saturday 30 Sep, 255 volunteers ranging in age from 4 to 75 years young gathered at Camp Chief Ouray, part of the Snow Mountain Ranch complex of the YMCA of the Rockies, to register, sign up for projects, enjoy continental breakfast generously donated from the community, and be transported to worksites in vans donated from the community. More than a hundred local merchants provided food, equipment, sanitation, door prizes and other necessities to this volunteer work force.  Weather was perfect with temperatures in the mid-60’s, sunshine and fantastic autumn colors. As all projects wrapped up, the volunteers and staff returned to Camp Chief Ouray, just ahead of the rain and snow.  Pizza from local restaurants and a catered lasagna dinner from Winter Park Resort awaited them along with a good beer or glass of wine to share stories and celebrate the accomplishments of the day.  Many returning volunteers felt this was the best NPLD ever! It was all dedicated to the memory of local Jean Miller, who was an inspiration to all who loved the outdoors.

People volunteered many hours in work that our local land services can no longer afford to do.  The Colorado River cleanup BLM project had approximately 160 participants including local High School students, chaperones, scouts and troop leaders, plus rafting groups and outfitters to volunteer almost 1000 hours cleaning river banks, campsites, firepits, and trash plus reconstruct 1200 ft of trail!  The Middle Supply Creek trail USFS project drew 26 volunteers who donated almost 100 hours constructing turnpike, moving fill and gravel, and installing culverts for erosion control. The River/Valley trails RMNP project used 24 participants to redefine a heavily-used non-motorized trail installing log checks and drains, cleaning drains and moving fill and gravel volunteering 120 hrs.  Strawberry Trails BLN and HTA project had 41 participants volunteering almost 300 hrs to decommission unsustainable and social trails and replace it constructing almost a half mile of sustainable bench trail.  And then there were those who picked up or prepared food, decorated for the Appreciation party, served dinner or beer and wine, transported people, provide music, T-shirts, door prizes, took pictures, or spent the year coordinating the event!  This kind of support was worth so much more – Grand County, we thank you for another wonderful year!

And now we take those wonderful fall hikes and wait for the snow to come.  Have you checked out your Nordic ski or snowshoe gear?  The Grand Nordic Swap is coming to Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center Oct 27 from 6-830pm.  Clean out your closet and bring your used gear to sell registering it from 5-6pm.  Check-in forms are available online at Or donate it to Grand Nordic for our kids programs in Grand County.  Buyers can anticipate great deals on new older gear or used equipment from Snow Mountain Ranch, Devils Thumb, Winter Park Trading company, and others as well as used gear offered by fellow skiers.

The Swap advantage is that you can compare items on the spot and consult our long-time skier advisors who can assist you with advice on your purchases.  Novice skiers can buy their first pair of skis at excellent prices or old pros can clear out their closets to make room for the latest and greatest gear. Come buy season passes at early season rates or sign up for Grand Nordic which offers a 25.00 individual or 40.00 family membership including discounts on season or daily train passes and merchandise at Nordic Centers and shops, the Annual Ranch2Ranch Ski Trek, three free lessons with equipment and trail pass included, social events, and access to providing a voice for the Nordic Community.

See you Friday evening Oct 27 at the Nordic Swap at Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center to check out equipment, swap stories, and enjoy dessert.  I’ll buy you a cup of coffee!