Whitewater trail stairs

Snow in the mountains, sun in the valley and spring break have combined to inspire legions of people to visit Buena Vista recently. And while business owners and their staff members rejoice as visitor dollars help make up for a difficult year, the surge in tourism also brings challenges for the town’s trail network.

Snow in the mountains, sun in the valley and spring break have combined to inspire legions of people to visit Buena Vista recently. And while business owners and their staff members rejoice as visitor dollars help make up for a difficult year, the surge in tourism also brings challenges for the town’s trail network.

“As more people enjoy the town’s trails, we’re seeing the usual spring increase in issues like erosion hazards—both from human and naturally occurring impacts—as well as dog owners forgetting to pick up their pets’ waste,” said Earl Richmond, BV Recreation director.

Richmond and the town’s Trails Advisory Board have a solution in mind, and Chaffee County Times readers can help.

For years, the town has relied on volunteer trail adopters to monitor segments of the town’s trails and call the recreation department when they see problems like trash, dog waste or the beginning of an informal social trail that can lead to erosion and costly damage.

The trail adopters also sometimes act as goodwill ambassadors for a trail.

“I often ask people what they like about the trail and if they have any recommendations for improving it,” said Kathy Hoerlein, an active trail adopter. “Sometimes this has resulted in creating new amenities like a bench, picnic table or another dog waste station.”

After many years of relying on just one volunteer to monitor each of the 11 trail segments, Richmond and the board decided to seek additional adopters.

“Another set of eyes can be really helpful in the busy summer,” said Lois Walton, a longtime Trails Advisory Board member who helped develop Adopt-a-Trail more than 10 years ago after it was first initiated by BV Rotary.

Trails board chair Kelly Collins underscored the fact that trail adopters aren’t expected to fix trail problems themselves but instead report issues to Richmond and his staff.

“They’re not responsible for cleaning up dog waste and other problems, just for reporting those to town staff,” said Collins.

There are 10 trail segments available for adoption, including multiple trails and segments in the hills east of the Arkansas River and in-town trails including BV Wildlife Trail (west of town on County Road 361), Peaks View Trail (west of 24 at the south end of town), Cottonwood Creek South (along Arizona) and Zebulon Pike (from Arizona to South Main).

Contact Earl Richmond at 719-395-2408 or recdirector@buenavistaco.gov for more info or to volunteer.

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