Visiting Copper Mountain to wander in flower-filled meadows or in the shade of tall pines is always a treat, but for many people (especially kids) those encounters with nature spark an abiding curiosity about the world of mountains.
A summer trip to Summit County is a great time to learn just a little bit more, and maybe even get your hands dirty and give back just a little bit by getting involved in a trail or tree-planting project. Deeper understanding and awareness of the mountain environment begets greater appreciation, which can culminate in becoming an active steward of our public lands.
Summit County is fortunate to have a dedicated nonprofit group that helps the U.S. Forest Service. The Friends of the Dillon Ranger District offers guided forest tours all summer long and organizes dozens of events to help maintain popular trails and restore forests after the pine beetle epidemic.
Here are a couple of samples from the jam-packed FDRD summer schedule. Click here to see the full calendar.
Led by volunteer naturalists, many of the hikes are just a couple of hours long. The next one is scheduled for June 18 on the B&B trail near Breckenridge, when hikers will have a chance to identify trees, get a historical perspective on the area's forests and to learn how Summit County communities are trying to protect themselves from wildfires.
On June 25, you can tour the Straight Creek watershed, which is the drainage that starts in the high peaks above the Eisenhower Tunnel and runs all the way down to Silverthorne along I-70. This hike will explore the idea of collaboration including discussion of woody biomass, watershed protection, and impact of having a large interstate near the forest.
If you want to help maintain some of the trails you use when you visit the area, FDRD also has numerous volunteer opportunities — and you can even participate after a full day of other activities with “twilight projects” that start at 5:30 p.m.
Some of Summit County's native flora and fauna are threatened by invasive species that displace plants that are a natural part of the ecosystem. So along with ongoing efforts to control noxious weeds, FDRD help organize the local version of the “Pulling for Colorado” event (July 13, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) Summit Counties invasive and noxious weed experts will help you start identifying potential hazards and teach you how to eradicate them. Once you are able to identify them you will be amazed at how many of them reside in Summit County- even in the wilderness!