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OTG Report to the US Forest Service: Mid-Season 2020

From late March through July 2020, the Ouray Trail Group (OTG) fielded 31 separate work trips on National Forest trails in the Ouray Ranger District. The trips included 3 multi-day trips and 28 single-day trips. Sixty volunteers contributed at minimum 1,168 volunteer hours organizing trips and performing trail maintenance on the National Forest. Through July OTG has cleared 445 down trees from 58 miles of trail, removed encroaching brush and saplings, and repaired tread by removing rocks and debris, removing slough and restoring tread width and outslope, cleaning drains, building new drains including rolling grade dips, and blocking or filling short sections of multiple treads and switchback shortcuts. 

We follow guidance in the 2007 Forest Service Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, and strive for Class 2 standards on most trails and a Class 3 standard on the Perimeter Trail. Our overall goals are to first clear trail corridors of significant obstructions as early in the season as possible, then to address tread repair and drainage problems where they reduce safety or threaten trail sustainability.

Details of work accomplished are provided in the attached table. Some highlights and high-fives:

We acknowledge the help of 13 Ouray High School students who came out June 11 for a big work day on the Perimeter Trail, organized by Ouray teacher and longtime OTG volunteer Jenny Hart and accompanied by several parents.

We thank the Forest Service for help on the July 10-12 Middle Fork Trail work trip. Brin Marah ably guided the Forest Service pack string to bring gear to and from the high camp 4 miles in. Rec Rangers Kricket Scherer and Chris Snell provided expertise, strong hands and backs, radio communications and other equipment, and helped make the event a big success.

We thank Roy and Tyler Jackson of Cow Creek Outfitters for providing pack horse support on the June 27-28 work trip into the Stealey Mountain South Trail. With only 4 volunteers the first day and 5 the second, we still accomplished a lot of work in a fire-damaged area and the pack support was essential.

Finally, thanks to Kelly Ryan and the San Juan Hut System for providing 2 employees to help with our June 6-7 work trip on the Dallas Trail. Their offer of free hut accommodations was shelved by COVID, but much appreciated as was their great help in the field.

Some particular problem areas we plan to address in August and September include large amounts of deadfall on the upper half of Courthouse Trail, the Dallas-Corbett Shortcut Trail, the Corbett Canyon Trail, and the Shortcut Trail between the Baldy and Storm Gulch trails. We have trips in the works to each of those areas and look forward to Forest Service help in September on the Corbett Canyon Trail 2-day trip. We understand that the Forest Service has or will clear the big deadfall accumulations on the upper Dexter Creek Trail and Difficulty Creek Trails this summer so we don’t plan to work there. Let us know if that’s not the case and we may be able to get some workers in there.

This year we’ve established good lines of communication between Forest Service staff and OTG, and I think it’s benefitting our ability to meet our shared goals of effective and efficient trail maintenance. On behalf of our Front Country Trailwork Coordinator Hale Houts, Backcountry Coordinator John Hulburd, and the OTG officers and Board of Directors, we very much look forward to the rest of this summer, working with the Forest Service and our other collaborators to maintain good sustainable trails.

Steve Boyle

OTG Forest Service Liaison



Ouray Trail Group, Trail Maintenance Log March-July 2020