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Grant, elbow grease restores center

Wolford Outdoor Learning Center in Black Forest, Colo., is getting a facelift ñ and troops of volunteers helped with the restoration April 14.Created in 1990 with a nature trail, an interactive sundial and an amphitheater; the 5-acre plot is south of Wolford Elementary School. In 2011, the Wolford Parent Teacher Officers and the Parent Teacher Organization began efforts to restore and enhance the outdoor area. The restoration includes upgrading amphitheater seating, building a bridge and thinning trees. Local businesses like Pioneer Sand of Black Forest donated money to aid in the restoration of trails. The Black Forest Postal Service provided cold beverages, and the Black Forest Slash and Mulch Program took part as well, said Dave Jones, project manager.Volunteers hauled debris and slash to the pickup point at the center, helped build the log slab bridge and rebuilt trail segments. Marcus Daley, who is ranked as a Life Scout, supervised volunteers as part of his Eagle Scout project.†Black Forest Fire and Rescue Protection District volunteers applied for a grant on behalf of the PTO. The Colorado State Forest Service awarded a $5,000 cost-share grant; the PTO matched the amount in labor costs, with Colorado Springs School District 20 volunteers, Jones said.Under the grant, sawyer Chris Hinkle of Colorado Wildfire Specialists was hired to clear mistletoe-infested trees and overcrowded stands of young trees; he also thinned trees to reduce fire danger. Hinkle also donated his services to help rebuild the log slab bridge over a small stream.†The $5,000 Wolford restoration grant is part of a larger $33,000 grant from the forest service for wildfire protection in the Black Forest community. Part of the grant money is being used to provide shaded fuel breaks throughout Black Forest. The breaks provide more space between trees, which enables firefighters to tame a fire outbreak before it rips through the forest canopy, said Walt Seeley, fire wise coordinator.ìThe purpose of the grant is to cost share fuel breaks and forest restoration along the primary evacuation routes identified in the (2007) Black Forest Community Wildfire Protection Plan,î said Dave Root, assistant district forester. ìThe grant will cost share up to a maximum of $1,000 per acre or 50 percent of the landownerís expenses, whichever is less, to develop fuel breaks 300 feet back from the primary evacuation routes.îAnother grant for the Wolford restoration is in the works. Jones also applied to Loweís for a grant for material to upgrade the learning center amphitheatre. He said they should know the grant status by the end of May.To donate the use of equipment, construction services or to volunteer, contact Jones at 808-954-9673 or e-mail him at

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