Glenwood Springs resident honored as trail group’s volunteer of month
Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Mark Schuemaker has a simple answer as to why he’s spent so much time over the past 10 years volunteering for Roaring Fork Outdoors Volunteers (RFOV).
“It’s the most fun you can ever have getting dirty,” he said.
Schuemaker, a Glenwood Springs resident and a Colorado native, has helped out on numerous trail-building and maintenance projects in the valley and beyond, which have ranged from constructing the Bobcat Trail in Rifle Falls State Park to planting new vegetation in the aftermath of the 2002 Coal Seam Fire near Glenwood.
RFOV named Schuemaker as its Volunteer of the Month for July. The new volunteer recognition program aims to honor those who are at the heart of the organization.
“Obviously, RFOV’s mission is to encourage volunteerism,” said David Hamilton, RFOV executive director. “We are fortunate to have a large number of volunteers who give an incredible amount of time. This is one way to recognize our volunteers and a way to say ‘thank you’ for all the time our volunteers dedicate to improving their public lands.”
Since 1995, RFOV has engaged more than 12,500 volunteers on 130 projects on public lands in the Roaring Fork, Colorado and Crystal river valleys. That volunteer time has resulted in improvements to more than 215 miles of trail, construction of 24 miles of new trail, planting roughly 10,000 trees and shrubs, and establishing 11 acres of wetlands.
As a crew leader, Schuemaker has led groups on almost two dozen trail days, supervising the work of eight to 10 other volunteers while maintaining a safe work environment. He also passes on the tips and techniques he learned from other crew leaders when he first joined up with RFOV.
“Building trails can be extremely technical – constructing swales and water bars, and figuring out how to keep the trail from washing out,” Schuemaker said.
Drawing on his skills as a handyman for property management companies (he runs his own business, Projects Plus), Schuemaker also has served as RFOV’s Tool Committee chair for the past five years. More recently, he’s joined the Crew Leader Development Committee, and he’d eventually like to become a crew leader trainer.
After hearing a presentation by RFOV’s Hamilton at a Glenwood Springs Lions Club meeting in 2000, Schuemaker and his wife, Linda, decided to get their hands dirty on a trail project.
“We’ve been at it ever since,” he said.
The couple usually signs up for projects together, though he also notes that one of the rewards of volunteering has been meeting other like-minded folks.
“It’s always a lot of fun to meet people who feel the same way you do about giving back to the community,” he said.
An avid hiker who frequents the trails around Glenwood, New Castle and Carbondale, Schuemaker acknowledges that his work with RFOV has given him a new perspective.
“After you’ve built trails for a while,” he said, “you walk a trail and say, ‘I wouldn’t have done it this way.’ You critique it as you go.”
And, he’s been known to clear away rocks or debris, if needed, while out on a hike. After all, the chance to get a little dirty just makes it more fun.
For more information about RFOV, including the remaining trail work projects for 2010, visit http://www.rfov.org or call (970) 927-8241.
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