Saturday, July 4, 2020

Volunteers needed to gather information on Pole Mountain Gateways trails

The USDA Forest Service, Laramie Ranger District, is requesting public involvement to inform long-term management of non-motorized recreation on the Pole Mountain unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Two volunteer days are scheduled, and an interactive web site is online, in preparation for the large-scale analysis referred to as the Pole Mountain Gateways project.

Proceeding the project and public meetings this fall, the Forest Service has partnered with Common Outdoor Ground (COG), a community organization in southeast Wyoming, to utilize volunteers and assess non-system trail conditions this summer using a consistent approach.

The University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute is also assisting the Forest Service with pre-project information gathering and is working with COG to provide multiple opportunities for the public to participate.

Common Outdoor Ground will be coordinating two trail assessment days in coming weeks, Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 19. On those days, volunteers will be asked to hike, bike, or ride non-system trails and utilize GPS units to gather information on those trails. Participants will need to have knowledge of non-system trails in two general areas of interest: north of Wyoming Highway 210 (July 11) and south of Highway 210 (July 19). Specific locations for desired mapping will be established at event check-in.

No more than 20 individuals are needed for each day and those interested in participating will need to sign up in advance for one of two GPS unit/orientation pick-up timeslots: 8-9 a.m. or 9-10 a.m. Check-in on July 11 will be at Tie City Trailhead and on July 19 at the Vedauwoo fee booth. All volunteers will be asked to wear a mask during check-in. Register on the COG website.

Non-system trails are neither maintained or designated by the Forest Service, but may exist on the landscape for many reasons, such as use by livestock and wild game, old roadbeds, or user-created routes pioneered by recreationists. Such trails will be analyzed for some form of future management action during the Pole Mountain Gateways project.

In addition to the volunteer days, the Ruckelshaus Institute has coordinated with WyGISC to produce an online mapping tool for the project. Within the web site, Forest users can input information relevant to the upcoming Gateways project, such as preferred access points, photos, suggestions for signage and infrastructure, maintenance needs, trail conditions, and so on. Data will be collected all summer long and members of the public can contribute at their convenience. The web site will serve to provide information and give updates about the upcoming project, as well as provide details about how to use the mapping tool. Social media sites will also be created for the pre-project analysis, information-gathering effort.

Users are encouraged to engage in their activities with these driving questions in mind: What do you value about Pole Mountain? What do you want Pole Mountain to look like in 10, 20, and/or 50 years?

The Forest Service and Ruckelshaus Institute are in conversations about re-structuring public meetings for fall 2020 or considering creative alternatives to in-person events. Check the project website and social media pages for regular updates.

The pre-project public meetings are planned to help establish a starting point for the Forest Service environmental analysis of the entire Pole Mountain administrative unit. Trails, facilities, parking, signage and other aspects of non-motorized recreation will all be reviewed by the analysis.

The project has been named Pole Mountain Gateways to reflect the area’s designation as a Wyoming Forest Gateway Community Priority Area, which resulted from implementation of the National Trails Stewardship Act.

For details on the Pole Mountain area, contact the Laramie Ranger District at (307) 745-2300.


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