U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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Public Lands in Focus: Participants Celebrate Successful Program
Participants in "Public Lands in Focus" wrapped up a successful project with a party at the Tree House Center for Youth's new Bistro Center on August 7. The project used digital photography as a tool for exploring nature and developing an appreciation of the importance of public lands stewardship. Eighteen youth and young adults with physical and mental disabilities came together with four "counselors in training" hired by the Tree House Center for Youth to hike, raft, kayak, swim, fish, and have other adventures as part of Colorado Discover Ability's summer day camp program. Participants used digital cameras to record their experiences on public lands.e
The grant funds to purchase digital cameras and pay the youth counselors came from the Bureau of Land Management's "Take it Outside" initiative. Thanks to the Tree House and Cody Moore and Colorado Discover Ability and Jeremy Steinhauer for collaborating with us on this project. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado provided administrative support for the project.
Public Lands in Focus: Kickoff
Tuesday, June 12 saw the kick-off of the Grand Junction Field Office’s new “Public Lands in Focus” project at the Bureau of Land Management’s Mud Springs Campground on Glade Park. Fifteen youth and young adults with physical and mental disabilities were brought together with four youth “counselors in training” for a summer day camp program that will use digital photography as a tool for exploring nature and developing an appreciation of the importance of public lands stewardship.
At this first day camp session, the participants received an introduction to nature photography from volunteer Blaine Scott. The youth had the opportunity to explore Mud Springs with their new digital cameras and then wrapped up the day by learning about “ Leave No Trace ” principles from BLM Park Ranger Mike Jones. The day camp will continue for another seven Tuesdays throughout the summer with activities such as hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing and rafting on local public lands.
The day camp program will culminate with a photography exhibit. Both the day camp participants and the counselors-in-training will be involved in planning the exhibit. The exhibit will be held at the Tree House’s new youth center at 1014 N. 5 th Street in Grand Junction. This event will be open to the public and will include Bureau of Land Management staff, Colorado Discover Ability clients and staff, and the Tree House camp counselors and administrative staff.
Take it Outside ” initiative, is a collaboration involving Colorado Discover Ability, the Tree House Center for Youth, the statewide stewardship organization Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado , and the BLM Grand Junction Field Office .
Colorado Discover Ability (CDA) provides adaptive outdoor recreation to youth and young adults with disabilities. The Public Lands in Focus project is a good supplement to CDA’s existing summer day program. This eight week program allows youth/young adults (ages 14-24) with disabilities to spend time outdoors on public lands exploring their abilities in a safe and therapeutic environment.
The Tree House Center for Youth, Inc. (Tree House) provides leadership development and after school programs to teens in Mesa County. The Tree House recruited and hired four youth to serve as “counselors-in-training” to work with participants in CDA’s day camp. They are responsible for assisting in preparation for the each day’s activities, assisting the campers in activities, and helping wrap up at the close of the day. The employment component of the Public Lands in Focus project is a good fit with the Tree House’s youth leadership development programs.
The project is expected to provide increased understanding of the importance of public lands in providing unique recreational opportunities to be active and have healthy lifestyles, greater appreciation for public land resources and the motivation to become stewards of public lands, opportunities to document and share their experiences on public lands with family, friends, and other community members in a way that increases the potential for a long term relationship with public lands, work experience providing exposure to career opportunities in recreation and public lands stewardship.
A Series of Interviews by Betty Jensen, BLM Volunteer
Dave Grossman and the Grand Valley Trails Association
The Mission of the Grand Valley Trail Alliance, “…is to support, enhance and sustain a world –class multiple-use trail network in western Colorado’s Grand Valley by facilitating trail planning, education, construction, maintenance and management between trail users groups, communities, and land managers.” What a mouthful! This is a task comparable to herding cats. The cats are all the groups who want to hike, bike, or ride over the trails in western Colorado, and the task is to get all of them moving in a shared direction regarding trail stewardship. Like cats, these groups and the various civic and government agencies overseeing western Colorado’s public lands often have independent ideas regarding the best path to follow. The man charged with helping to bring these disparate actors together is Dave Grossman, the new coordinator of the Grand Valley Trail Alliance (GVTA).
Dave brings a unique combination of outdoor, marketing, computer, and people skills to the job, which he began in January of this year. The GVTA is a budding organization. It was the brainchild of Grand Valley trail user groups and the BLM. Its “parents” are the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA), the Responsible Recreation Foundation (RRF) and the BLM, the organizations that came together to create the GVTA and hire Dave. Since becoming the GVTA’s coordinator, Dave has functioned as an administrator and as a community organizer. Currently, the GVTA is on its way to becoming a full-fledged non-profit corporation with office space of its own. The GVTA is also on its way to becoming a known and respected partner in the western Colorado trail community thanks to Dave’s outreach efforts. The De Beque Working Group demonstrates the kind of outreach work Dave has been doing.
The public lands in the De Beque area have no formal trails. There are social trails, however some of them are problematic. For example, a trail might cross a cultural site area. Trail user groups in the area shared concerns over such trail usage conflicts, but struggled to find an effective vehicle to voice their concerns. The cats were moving in differing directions. When Dave became aware of the issues and the groups’ concerns, he suggested a working group to draft an agreed upon plan for trail stewardship in the De Beque area. He is helping the cats come together and move in one direction. Once completed, the GVTA will present the De Beque Working Group’s plan to the BLM as input for the new Recreational Management Plan (RMP) being developed by the BLM. The Sierra Club, the Grand Mesa Jeep Club, the Friends of the Mustangs, the Grand Valley Back Country Horsemen, the Colorado Environmental Coalition, the Quiet Trails group, to name a few, will speak with a single clear voice on the topic of trail development and land use in the De Beque area.
So who is this man who herds cats? Dave was raised in Durango, Colorado. He grew up in the outdoors and studied biology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. After completing college, a summer in Alaska working on an ecology project funded by a National Science Foundation grant convinced him he did not really want to pursue pure science as a career. He turned instead to his fly fishing job. Dave worked as a fly fishing guide, incorporating ecological information into his trips and helping to manage the store that employed him. In the winter months, he began to market the business, becoming knowledgeable about web site development. But Dave has a restless spirit and he and his brother decided to begin their own business in the Denver area.
Dave had run a successful business during his college years. He and several others ran a non-profit environmental store from 1990-94. The Daily Planet Options Store sold hard to find environmentally friendly items such as compact florescent bulbs, organic cotton clothing and solar panels. The profits from the store went into putting together science learning kits that were given to local teachers. Dave used the lessons from this entrepreneurial experience to write a business plan with his brother that netted them 1.5 million dollars in venture capital to begin AthleticMotion.com. AthleticMotion.com was a web-based business that worked with top athletes in individual sports such as rock climbing, skateboarding and snowboarding to create video clips that individuals interested in the sports could use as a learning tool. Eventually, users of the site could upload and share their own sporting videos (this was pre-You Tube). Things were going well, Dave and his brother had created a DVD for market, and the venture capitalists were sufficiently impressed to invest another 5.2 million dollars. Then the tragedy of 911 struck, the world changed, and the venture capitalists withdrew their offer.
An event that changed us all certainly redirected Dave’s life, but it was his wife who brought him to Grand Junction. When she completed medical school, the family moved to Grand Junction so that she could complete her residency in family medicine. Before becoming GVTA coordinator, Dave had several other jobs herding cats. He directed programming at KAFM for a year, and he helped the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation program develop an after school program for early release days. He also herds his own cats, two daughters, ages 9 and 5. What you might ask makes Dave such a wonderful herder of cats. In his words, “Together we work better.” He simply convinces the cats that they are part of a herd!
Partnerships Critical to Protecting and Preserving Our Public Lands
The Grand Junction Field Office (GJFO) benefits immensely from partnerships with organizations that help us care for our public lands. Our partners are diverse – ranging from the many recreational user groups whose members use these lands on a weekly basis to local businesses that help with the care and feeding of our volunteers. Other important partners are the nonprofit and governmental organizations that offer adult and youth offenders the option of performing alternative community service, such as maintenance or clean-up projects on public lands, rather than spending time in jail. Educational institutions contribute students and academic expertise to the BLM’s work and organizations with conservation goals help us educate the community about conservation.
A longtime partnership with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) was expanded in 2011, in order to increase the GJFO’s capacity to develop volunteer programs, recruit and manage volunteers, and form strategic partnerships to help accomplish the BLM’s goals. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado is a statewide nonprofit volunteer organization whose mission is to motivate and enable citizens to become active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. In May 2011, VOC hired a Volunteer and Partnership Coordinator to work within the Grand Junction Field Office. The VOC partnership provides the GJFO access to specialized expertise and resources.
In 2011, local individuals and organization contributed 24,291 hours in volunteer and hosted labor, valued at nearly $500,000. Other contributions (in-kind donations and grants) added another $400,000, bringing the total value of volunteer and partnership contributions to $900,000! Use the links below to explore some of these partnerships.
Applying and registering for opportunities
Each year, volunteers contribute thousands of hours of their time and talent to projects throughout the Grand Junction Field Office, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. Many BLM projects and tasks are accomplished only through the efforts and resources provided by our dedicated volunteers and partners. Volunteering is a great way to get involved in public lands stewardship.
No matter what your background, age, ability, or interest, there are opportunities for you to become a BLM volunteer. You can work individually or as part of a group. Projects range from short-term, one-day adventures to season-long commitments.
Click here and select BLM - Grand Junction under "Agency/Organization" to check out current volunteer opportunities in the Grand Junction area. On this website, managed by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado , you may register for opportunities that interest you, or set up a volunteer profile and be notified when opportunities matching your profile are posted.
Typical BLM Volunteer Opportunities
- Trail construction and maintenance
- Wild horse range patrols and horse gathers
- Shooting range maintenance
- Cultural resources data collection and monitoring
- Mountain bike patrol
- Wilderness/Wilderness Study Area patrols
- Tamarisk removal/spraying
- Campground hosts
- Office support
- Recreation facility maintenance
- Trash clean-up
The BLM has produced an excellent guide explaining the ins and outs of volunteering with the BLM. You can view a copy online or stop by the BLM office and pick up a hard copy if you’d like.
Volunteer Agreements - All individual BLM volunteers are required to complete and sign a Volunteer Services Agreement. Members of groups volunteering for the BLM may be covered by a group agreement. These agreements are signed by the volunteer or group representative and a BLM official. The form asks for the volunteer’s contact information and describes the volunteer project, duties and supervision. The volunteer agreement also provides tort claim protection and workmen’s compensation benefits for volunteer work-related incidents. Agreements for volunteers under the age of 18 must also have the signature of a parent or guardian. Volunteer agreements are renewed annually.
Background Checks - Some volunteer positions requiring government computer or building access may require a background check.
Safety – Safety is always first! All volunteers are required to have appropriate training and wear the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to perform their work.
Reporting hours – Volunteers are required to report the hours that they donate to the BLM. In most cases, you’ll be able to report your hours online . This information helps us document the important contribution that volunteers make to public lands stewardship.
Reimbursement - In some cases, temporary housing, a modest daily stipend, and/or vehicle mileage may be available to volunteers. In most cases, the BLM will provide equipment, supplies, and training.
For more information about our volunteer program, call Fran Parker, Volunteer and Partnership Coordinator, 970-244-3031 or e-mail email@example.com .