AmeriCorps crew members at work on the RAT System May 30, 2014. Biking around Ridgway gets more exciting all the time. The weekend of May 10-11, 2014, 70+ volunteers, led by VOC and BLM staff kicked off an intense, 10-week push to finish 20 miles of brand new single-track, multi-use trail just north of Ridgway. The crew made a huge dent in a lynch-pin of the RAT system: the steep, access climb up from County Road 10, which, when finished, will feature 6, rock-cribbed, cut-and-fill, switch-back turns.
Then, on May 21, RAT/COPMOBA and BLM welcomed a crew of 10 AMERICORPS trail-builders, who will spend a total of 9 weeks on the project, working an average of 40 hours each per week on our system. AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women age 18-24. AmeriCorps NCCC strengthens communities and develops leaders through direct, team-based national and community service. In partnership with non-profits, local municipalities, state governments, federal government, national and state parks, Indian tribes, and schools, members complete service projects throughout the region they are assigned to. These enthusiastic, hard-working kids will live on the BLM side of the RAT system and at Dutch Charlie Campground in Ridgway Reservoir State Park, mostly under canvas tents, throughout their time with us. Our Americorps crew has already completed a brand new trail. The trail starts just below the power station and immediately east of the gravel pit on the BLM (South) side of our system. You will find a new trail sign at its upper terminus. It weaves and swoops, in-and-out of a gully, connecting at its lower terminus about half-way down Lower Disneyland.
Some of the 2+ miles of new single track added to the RAT System since May 10, 2014
On June 16, a crew of 10 trail-builders from Southwest Conservation Corps will join the Americorps group for 8 consecutive, 10-hour days of heavy-duty trail construction. Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) provides young women and men with structured, safe and challenging service and educational opportunities through projects that promote personal growth, the development of social skills, and an ethic of natural resource stewardship. The SCC crew coming to Ridgway will have deep experience in single-track construction and will take a huge bite out the the work remaining when they arrive.
Plus: During the first two weeks in July, RAT’s trail boss, Scott Vanderplaats, will bring a crew of 10 trustees from the Delta Correctional Center to help push our system to the earliest possible completion: right now. This crew worked with Scott last summer on our system and they definitely kick butt on dirt and rock!! We will put them to work on some of the toughest, most technical sections of our system.
RAT/COPMOBA and BLM will welcome volunteers to supplement the construction effort on three evenings in June and July – June 11, June 25 and July 9. On those dates our Americorps crew will begin work at 11:00a.m. and continue working until 8:00p.m. At 5:30pm on each of those dates volunteers will gather at the new trail head on County Rd. 10, just east of Second Chance Animal Shelter. Volunteers will need to sign in and provide waivers of liability to BLM and RAT/COPMOBA. Volunteers will be assigned to crews and will receive specific work details following sign-in.
The busy construction schedule has required a lot of organizational effort from the RAT/COPMOBA local committee members. Dealing with those issues has left no spare time to organize and stage RATFEST, our annual single track celebration. While we normally host that party the first Saturday in June, this year we’ve postponed it until the first or second Saturday in September, with the exact date not yet determined. Local Committee members will solidify that date shortly and post it to this website and the the Ridgway Area Trails Facebook Page, as well as to the COPMOBA website, copmoba.org. RAT also plans to organize and stage additional volunteer work days early this fall. Those dates and related details will also be posted to our websites. If the summer goes as planned, we will have put in over 5000 man-hours of new-trail construction on our system. The results will make our RAT System one of the premier single track resources in Southwestern Colorado. Then we’ll definitely have something to celebrate!!
Stay tuned for more news, please join us on one or all of our volunteer days, and by all means get out and have some fun on our new trails right now!!!