The Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition recently released the Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Best Practices Guide, a resource to help outdoor organizations recruit, retain and equip volunteers to work with land managers on stewardship efforts such as building trails and restoring habitat.

The guide is part of the coalition’s Statewide Stewardship Initiative (SSI), an effort established in 2017 that is funded by a $100,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, according to a press release from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.

In addition to the guide, SSI launched a statewide database and map of outdoor stewardship organizations to better connect land managers with volunteers and job candidates and to develop a unified framework for organizations to track and report on-the-ground work.

“The guide is being released at a time when Colorado’s stewardship needs are at an all-time high,” said Ann Baker Easley, executive director of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, which helped develop the guide.

“While tourism and recreation industries are booming, land management agencies don’t have the resources to keep up with the impacts caused by this level of exponential use.”

Outdoor recreation contributes $28 billion to the state’s economy, yet popular destinations such as Hanging Lake and Maroon Bells must consider restrictions, including permits, visitor caps and fees, to manage overuse and maintain the health and beauty of these areas.

A recent Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan survey found that 79 percent of respondents indicated that active stewardship of outdoor resources is a top priority for the state, outranking both financial stability and land and water conservation.

The guide covers four topics: volunteer management and training, partnering effectively with land managers, safety and risk management and data collection and impact reporting.

It provides practical information to help organizations address the challenges and maintain the outdoors, allowing the state’s trails and parks to withstand increased use, avoid future restrictions and continue to serve as a cultural and economic resource for Coloradans.

“The Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Coalition’s statewide stewardship movement helps ensure that Coloradans can continue to enjoy the quality of life we value and the many benefits of our parks, trails and other outdoor recreation areas,” said Chris Castilian, GOCO executive director.

“Taking care of our land, water and wildlife habitat into the future is a top priority for GOCO and its many partners in the outdoor recreation and conservation fields.”

To view or download the guide, visit outdoorstewardship.org/guide.

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado press release

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