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Volunteers clean up Black Forest trails

In August, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado teamed up with El Paso County to clean up part of the trail system in Black Forest Regional Park. Steve Wall, project manager for the cleanup, said they had initially planned to build more and maintain the current trails in the park, but the plans changed after the Black Forest fire.VOC is based out of Denver and works with volunteers to improve trails, parks and urban areas in Colorado. El Paso County officials contacted them after the fire for assistance with the cleanup effort in Black Forest Regional Park.One-hundred volunteers were expected on the cleanup day, but heavy fog and wet conditions undoubtedly kept some people home, said VOC coordinator Abbey Vannoy. However, 65 volunteers showed ñ from Denver as well as Colorado Springs. ìWe were shooting for more volunteers, but we were able to get the job done,î Vannoy said.The VOCís primary goal was stopping the runoff from a hill that had been filling the baseball fields with debris. Wall said they installed six grade stabilizers, 19 check dams, 37 straw wattles and 57 log erosion barriers. El Paso County provided the logs, which came from the forest in Black Forest post fire.Mountain Pine Manufacturing out of Steamboat Springs, Colo., donated wood mulch from trees affected by beetle kill. ìWe were able to cover 2 acres in mulch, thanks to Mountain Pine Manufacturing,î Wall said.Efforts are ongoing and widespreadRocky Mountain Field Institute has also completed erosion control and trail restoration in Black Forest Regional Park. More volunteer cleanup is planned for October. Amber Shanklin, program director, said they were mainly concerned with sediment and erosion that affects homes and park structures. Along with volunteer efforts, RMFI received a $46,000 grant from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation to assist in getting Black Forest Regional Park back up to par.Shanklin said their organization focuses on the larger picture of restoration. She said most of their staff holds a bachelorís degree ñ and some with a masterís degree ñ in the forestry and ecological fields.ìWe focus on ecological restoration and engaging community volunteers,î Shanklin said. ìWe envision ourselves as the technical experts. We try to maintain the highest quality possible in our work.î

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