Thursday, December 14, 2006

Backcountry Snowsports Alliance Seeks Volunteers

The Backcountry Snowsports Alliance is looking for volunteers for its Vail Pass Ambassador program, helping the Forest Service manage the area for all users.

At issue are potential conflicts between motorized and non-motorized travelers in the heavily used area. A management plan purports to separate the uses as much as possible with designated non-motorized routes and motorized play areas, but in reality, activity on Vail Pass can be a crowded mess, with use far exceeding a reasonable capacity on busy winter weekends.

A $20,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation will help fund the citizen-based monitoring and education program, running every Saturday and Sunday from December 16 through mid-April.

Volunteers work in teams of two or more, educating Vail Pass visitors on regulations and use boundaries, as well as tracking user types and numbers. The volunteers will also monitor whether users are respecting motorized and non-motorized usage boundaries and report violations to USFS Rangers, fill out observation forms and conduct surveys.

In short, the volunteers will serve as eyes and ears for the Forest Service while backcountry skiing, ski touring, or snowshoeing on Vail Pass.

A short training session is required. In exchange for service, volunteers will receive a free season parking pass for the area. To sign up or receive more information contact Heath McKay at (303) 494-5266, or via e-mail at

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