After wrapping up 2020 season early, Rifle Gap Outdoors looks ahead to spring | PostIndependent.com
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After wrapping up 2020 season early, Rifle Gap Outdoors looks ahead to spring

 

Rifle Gap Outdoors Program Coordinator Jeff Kerber walks around the Rifle Lion's Pond to do some fishing on a sunny and mild morning in Rifle.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Rifle Gap Outdoors is growing.

Despite COVID-19 causing the local recreational organization to recently cancel its final three events for the season, 2020 has shown program coordinator Jeff Kerber just how much locals want to connect with nature.

“Once the county’s dial went down we started to ramp up, we started to get bigger,” Kerber said of COVID-19 restrictions. “One of my events, it was a little harder to keep people socially distanced. So in that little timing we decided it would be kind of harder to go to a reservation system and keep 10 people at a time.”



The events that were canceled through the remainder of the year were Thanksgiving crafts, a survivor shelter program and bingo day.

Now, with his focus on spring 2021, Kerber’s looking for more volunteers to help run this locally-provided exploration of outdoor recreation and learning.



“Next year, hopefully we’ll get more volunteers,” he said. “As that progresses, the more we can offer.”

Rifle Gap Outdoors, a program under Colorado Parks and Wildlife organization, provides events and classes on a weekly basis. Things like fly-fishing courses, geological studies, presentations on birds of prey – if it has something to do with nature, Kerber covers it.

Not just kids, but everyone from teens to adults participated in the various outdoor activities throughout 2020. For each event, they flock to the Middle Colorado Watershed interpretive center at Lion’s Park Circle.

Rifle Gap Outdoors Program Coordinator Jeff Kerber does some fishing at the Rifle Lion's Pond.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The building itself, situated between cattail-filled ponds and the Colorado River, is perhaps a perfect location for this sort of thing. So perfect, that after reopening in July following renovations, it still spurred notable participation.

“I try to keep it entertaining for all ages,” Kerber said. “A lot of it involves a little chalk and activities afterward. We try to go with the flow and sometimes kids get a little exercise.”

At one point in 2020, for example, Kerber said he held a seminar on building beaver dams. Participants were asked to use items like seed trays, sand, pebbles and rocks to create a makeshift dam.

But as the class sizes continued to grow, so did the concern over COVID-19. The program coordinator said he was bummed when the last three classes of the season were canceled.

“It was cool seeing people coming back and getting to know them by name as well as even towards the end of the year knowing we were growing our audience going into the next spring,” he said. “As a seasonal worker, that motivates me to want to come back.”

For any outdoor enthusiast looking to learn more about nature, Kerber said there’s a chance that springtime 2021 may see multiple classes per subject. In other words, if there are more than 20 participants registered for one class, Kerber will simply split that one class into two.

“Next year, if we have popular events, we’ll double the events based on popularity,” he said. “In the spring, there’s a lot more activity around and in the early summer, the fishing is better.”

Kerber anticipates holding a class that even coincides with bow-hunting season in the fall. Sometimes, however, registered students don’t necessarily participate for the kill.

“After Hunger Games came out, it’s not necessarily about hunting for a large part of the audience,” he said. “Archery, in general, and the target score, is kind of intriguing.”

“I’m looking forward to firing it off next year.”

For more information on Rifle Gap Outdoors, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rifle-Gap-Outdoors-102256121562349/

rerku@citizentelegram.com


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