Much to be thankful for in 2020 in Ute Valley Park

This article was originally published in the Woodman Edition

At this time last year so many verbal greetings I had extended and all the holiday cards I sent all included the traditional “Happy New Year” wish to family and friends alike. Who knew?

Yes, at this point in the year we all thought 2020 would offer up all the things we were hopeful for. But for me, as the pandemic broke and continued my mindset quickly shifted to all that I was thankful for.

Yes, I became very thankful for my good health, the good fortune of having a significant group of friends and all my family ready to help each other muddle through the madness. And I had no loss of work or financial concerns to face. Once the initial shutdown ended looking ahead at my activity schedule, I was so appreciative for my quick and easy access to Ute Valley Park. I have long been thankful for UVP being so close but during such a difficult time, that appreciation grew. The regular walks we made were so appreciated by both my wife and me as great physical and mental therapy.

But we were not alone. The pandemic pushed so many others to an outdoor escape for relief from dealing with the many pressures and concerns they were facing. Hikers and bikers came in record numbers this year which raised concern for the Friends of Ute Valley Park would the necessary maintenance efforts be able to be met. Part of the FUVP mission statement is to provide maintenance help and we wondered how that could happen given the restrictions on gatherings.

With the guidance help of the Colorado Springs Park, Recreation, and Cultural Services a plan was developed to meet the safety criteria and provide the necessary help. We had a total of 87 volunteers show up to assist this year on our workdays throughout the summer. That number would have been higher, but restrictions lessened the number of people at a given project site. We have already worked on a strategy with Colorado Springs Park, Recreation, and Cultural Services to increase the number of volunteers on our workdays in 2021. Even facing the challenges, we still had 200 hours of work accomplished by our dedicated volunteers resulting in the achievements below:

  • 10 drains were built
  • 13 check dams were constructed
  • Over 150 yards of rogue trail was restored
  • 140 yards of new trail were established
  • 20 feet of split rail fencing was installed
  • 10 feet of buck ‘n rail fencing was also built

Also, Dillon Strub and 18 volunteers joined in to help him on an Eagle Scout project. Their combined efforts totaled 81 hours of work, resulting in 200 feet of trail being decommissioned and/or restored, along with 60 feet of split raill fencing installed and five drains constructed. Many thanks to Dillon and his team for their efforts to improve UVP for everyone.

Looking ahead, the FUVP is in the process of revamping our website (friendsofutevalleypark.com) to provide a new map, volunteer workday signup information, other news, alerts, and UVP safety and usage tips. Keep an eye on this space and the FUVP website for updates as changes will come about early next year.

Which brings us back to how this piece started. But I am so hopeful that in my offering of a Happy New Year wish to everyone, that there is an overly significant amount of HAPPY included for us all in 2021!