SJNF Gets Lot of Love for Public Lands Day

MORE THAN A HUNDRED VOLUNTEERS SPENT THE LAST SATURDAY OF SEPTEMBER PICKING UP TRASH, PLANTING TREES, OR CARVING OUT NEW TRAILS IN THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST TO COMMEMORATE NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY. FIND OUT WHY TWO NON-PROFITS DECIDED TO JOIN FORCES TO PICK UP TRASH ALONG THE HERMOSA CREEK ROAD BEHIND PURGATORY SKI RESORT. YOU’RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY SOUTHWEST EYE CONSULTANTS WITH OFFICES IN BOTH DURANGO AND CORTEZ. I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. THIRTEEN PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS SPENT THE LAST DAY OF SATURDAY WORKING ON FOREST IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS THROUGHOUT THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST AS PART OF PUBLIC LANDS DAY. SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST PARTNER COORDINATOR LORENA WILLIAMS SAID PUBLIC LANDS DAY IS THE LARGEST SINGLE VOLUNTEER EVENT FOR PUBLIC LANDS NATIONWIDE.
IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE PUBLIC TO GET INVOLVED IN, REMEMBER THE TREASURE THAT THEY HAVE, and THAT IS OUR PUBLIC LANDS, RANGING FROM OUR NATIONAL FOREST TO OUR NATIONAL PARKS. SO, I’M WITH THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST. AND WE HAVE ON THE SAN JUAN 13 PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS WHO ARE OUT HERE TODAY ON THE FOREST, ON THE DOLORES PAGOSA AND COLUMBINE RANGER DISTRICTS. AND THEY’RE PARTICIPATING IN EVENTS, RANGING FROM CLEANUPS WHERE THEY’RE PICKING UP TRASH LEFT BEHIND ON TRAILS AND IN DISPERSEd CAMPING AREAS, TO BUILDING TRAIL, TO PLANTING TREES. AND IT’S REALLY JUST AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FOLKS TO PARTICIPATE IN THEIR PUBLIC LANDS AND TO GIVE BACK IN A WAY THAT THEY CAN’T NECESSARILY GIVE BACK AS AN INDIVIDUAL. TO HAVE ALL OF THESE GROUPS COMING TOGETHER, FORESTWIDE, ON A SINGLE DAY IS REALLY REMARKABLE. AND TO ME, IT’S A TESTAMENT TO HOW MUCH OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC LANDS AND THE HEALTH OF PUBLIC LANDS AND THE HEALTH OF OUR FORESTS, IN THE HEALTH OF OURSELVES AS HUMANS, AND IN OUR MENTAL WELL-BEING, OUR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING, AND ALSO IN THE WELL-BEING OF OUR LOCAL ECONOMIES, BECAUSE THE PUBLIC LANDS HERE ARE A HUGE DRAW FOR TOURISM AND FOR FOLKS FROM OUT OF AREA TO VISIT AND TO REALLY SEE A PIECE OF THE GLORY THAT WE LIVE IN.NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY HAS BEEN HELD ANNUALLY ON THE LAST SATURDAY OF SEPTEMBER SINCE 1994. ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION, WHICH FOUNDED NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY, MORE THAN 156 THOUSAND VOLUNTEERS CONTRIBUTED 624 THOUSAND HOURS OF WORK VALUED AT 15 POINT 9 MILLION DOLLARS IN 2019. VOLUNTEERS WORKED ON MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND SITES NATIONWIDE. CLOSER TO HOME, THE FIVE RIVERS CHAPTER OF TROUT UNLIMITED AND ITS SISTER ORGANIZATION, BRAIDED, A NATIONAL FLY-FISHING ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN, TACKLED TRASH ALONG THE UPPER HERMOSA CREEK AREA BEHIND PURGATORY. THE GROUPS HAVE A SPECIAL AFFINITY FOR THE REGION. TROUT UNLIMITED PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN THE DESIGNATION OF THE ENTIRE HERMOSA CREEK DRAINAGE AS A SPECIAL MANAGEMENT AND WILDERNESS AREA ESTABLISHED CONGRESS IN 2014. THE REGION INCLUDES NEARLY 108 THOUSAND ACRES DESIGNATED FOR SPECIAL MANAGEMENT, THE 37-THOUSAND-ACRE HERMOSA CREEK WILDERNESS AREA, AND A 43-THOUSAND-ACRE ROADLESS AREA. DURING THE PAST 20 YEARS, THE FIVE RIVERS CHAPTER OF TROUT UNLIMITED HAS CONTRIBUTED NEARLY 20 THOUSAND DOLLARS AND HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEER HOURS WORKING CLOSELY WITH COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE AND THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST TO RESTORE NATIVE CUTTHROAT TROUT POPULATIONS IN THE WATERSHED. TROUT UNLIMITED BOARD MEMBERS BUCK SKILLEN AND PAULINE ELLIS SAID, THE AREA HAS BEEN USED HEAVILY THIS SUMMER BY RECREATIONISTS AND CAMPERS WHO WANT TO ESCAPE THEIR HOMES AND THE LIMITATIONS OF SOCIAL DISTANCING FROM THE PANDEMIC.
UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS TRASH OUT HERE, BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T PRACTICE ‘LEAVE NO TRACE.’LEAVE NO TRACE MEANS, IF YOU BROUGHT IT IN, YOU TAKE IT BACK OUT. THAT INCLUDES YOUR TOILET PAPER. PUT TOILET PAPER IN A ZIP LOCK, CARRY IT HOME WITH YOU. I KNOW THAT SOUNDS A LITTLE GROSS, BUT TOILET PAPER WILL, WILL REMAIN IN THE ENVIRONMENT FOR YEARS AND YEARS. IT DOESN’T INSTANTLY DEGRADE. CIGARETTE BUTTS. YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING RIGHT BY THROWING THE TIN CANS AND THE FOOD IN THE FIRE PIT. YOU’RE JUST ASKING FOR THE BEARS AND THE CRITTERS TO COME TO THE FIRE PIT TO TRY TO GET WHAT THEY SMELL IN THE WAY OF FOOD. AND NOT ONLY THAT, IT TRASHES THE FIRE PIT. SO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. IN THE FUTURE, IF YOU’RE WATCHING THIS, TRY TO PRACTICE, LEAVE NO TRACE WHEN YOU COME INTO OUR NATIONAL FOREST.

THIS IS A SPECIAL AREA, BUT PUBLIC LANDS IN GENERAL ARE SO SPECIAL, AND WE WANT TO KEEP THEM SPECIAL FOR EVERYONE TO ENJOY.IF YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT PUBLIC LANDS DAY, VISIT THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION WEB SITE AT N E E F U S A DOT ORG. THANKS FOR WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. NOW YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR NEWS STORIES ON YOUR FAVORITEPODCASTAPP, ANYTIME ANYWHERE! I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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