Since our first meeting in May of 2011, Dolores River Boating Advocates has been hard at work. In addition to building our organization, applying for grants, and recruiting an all-volunteer board of directors, we’ve worked on stewardship projects, organized outreach events, and developed important partnerships in the community.
Here are a few highlights:
The Dolores River Restoration Partnership sponsored a volunteer work day in one of their project areas near Gateway, Colorado in February of 2011. Four volunteers from DRBA rose at the crack of dawn to drive to the work site. There we met with Bureau of Land Management staff, a crew from Southwest Conservation Corps, scientists from Colorado Mesa University and other volunteers.
The project area had previously been cleared of tamarisk, a non-native invasive tree that chokes out native plants along rivers throughout the southwest, including the Dolores River. To help ensure the tamarisk does not regenerate, our team helped harvest native willow saplings and replant them into the cleared areas.
Despite the hard, physical and muddy work, volunteers enjoyed the day and the dramatic canyon scenery. “I enjoyed learning about the revegetation process and being able to give back a little bit to a river that gives me so much. It will be interesting to come back during the run-off and check on the willows we planted.” Shanti Savage, DRBA board member.
Leave No Trace
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) no longer staffs a river ranger on the Dolores River. Private boating parties are asked to travel responsibly in the river corridor, but there is no enforcement to protect the resource. Dolores River Boating Advocates feels strongly that our community should have the skills and passion to do all we can to limit our impacts to the river, the archaeological treasures, the wildlife and fellow boaters.
To help us address this need, DRBA contacted Leave No Trace (LNT) in Boulder, Colorado. We were thrilled to learn that the former BLM river ranger, Rick Ryan, is a certified Master Educator for LNT! And he literally helped write LNT’s booklet about ethics for western rivers. With his help we organized an awareness workshop for nine DRBA volunteers in March of 2011. The day-long training highlighted many practical ways we all can mitigate our impacts while on the river. Rick provided many examples of specific issues facing the Dolores. Much time was devoted to how to talk with other boaters about practicing LNT ethics.
Our plans to take our new skills to the put-in sites on the river during the boating season were foiled because there was no release from McPhee due to low water levels. We hoped to reach out to parties who were preparing to launch trips. Instead we focused our energy on outreach at the Dolores River Festival in June. Our model River Camp drew a lot of attention and gave us the chance to talk to folks about how to keep their camps clean. “Throw-bag Bowling” was a big hit, too!
Tread Lightly Outdoors Expo in Montrose, CO
As part of our partnership with other conservation groups in the basin, DRBA participated in this first annual event held on July 4. The Dolores River Coalition provides a forum for twenty conservation groups working in the basin to coordinate strategies and to support the programs of each group. Our friends at the Wilderness Society and Friends of the Northern Dolores (FOND) organized a day of activities to engage the Montrose community in celebrating non-motorized recreation on public lands.
DRBA board members coordinated with Montrose boaters to set up our model River Camp and a raft. We highlighted the principals of Leave No Trace for western rivers. Visitors to the booth got to experience how we try to tread lightly as we enjoy river trips on the Dolores River.
Partnerships with other conservation groups provide opportunities to reach out to boaters across the basin and to the broader communities. Thanks to our partners in the Dolores River Coalition for making this a successful day!