Saturday, September 18, 2010

Big Mother Hill Restoration Project

Hauling mulch bales to the work site
We had a great time joining the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WLRV) to help seed and mulch an area of a mountainside north of Boulder, Colorado, that had been severely eroded by off road motor traffic.

 Our crew was assigned to the lower portion of the Big Mother Hill, which was a surprisingly steep work site that was even a little challenging just hiking to the project, especially while carrying our work tools, seed, fertilizer, etc.  Fortunately, most of the bales of mulch had already been placed in position, although we did have to do a bale run at the end of the day.  It didn't seem like hard work at the time, but the next morning my back and neck felt like I'd been run over by a Mack truck.
Getting organized

We prepped the work site with rakes, scattered seed by hand, applied fertilizer, and then covered it all in mulch.  Although some of the spectacular views were shrouded most of the day in a persistent and misty fog, it was actually a blessing in disguise.   The fog helped keep the temperatures down and made the physical work much more comfortable.  Later in the day we transplanted a few small pine trees.  It will be interesting to return to the site in the coming years to watch the progress.  

Steep work site
Over the past six years, WLRV collaborated with the US Forest Service, James Creek Watershed Initiative, Walsh Environmental Services, and Trail Ridge Runners, to complete the first six phases of this award-winning restoration project benefiting hundreds of acres of forest habitat and downstream water quality.

I can't say enough good things about the WLRV projects that I have participated in.  They are always well organized with knowledgeable and friendly crew leaders, and they go out of the way to make sure it is a safe and fun experience for the volunteers.  Following a project they almost always have some sort of after party where they provide food, snacks, and libations for the whole crew.   It really is fun time and a great way to give back to the community, meet new people, and help preserve and restore the wilderness that we all so much enjoy.

More project photos can be found here.
WLRV Volunteers

Volunteering is fun, and WLRV has many projects throughout the season.  They are always open to recruiting new volunteers (all age ranges), and projects range in difficulty from seed collection to high altitude trail building.   For more information on upcoming WLRV projects, check out their website:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

AIDS Walk Colorado

I Participated in the AIDS Walk Colorado fund raiser again this year.   It is always a mixed day of emotions - I am encouraged to see so many people out supporting a great cause and uplifted by all the enthusiasm.  It is also a solemn time to remember those we have lost and to continue to hope for the day when this scourge of a disease is wiped away forever.

According to the AIDS Walk Colorado website, the event "is the Rocky Mountain Region’s largest and most successful HIV and AIDS fundraiser. More than 8,000 people from throughout the state come together as a community, fueled by donations from more than 13,000 individuals, to raise money for vital services for HIV/AIDS clients of Colorado AIDS Project and more than 20 other outstanding AIDS service organizations.

The event serves as a day to remember those we have lost to the disease with prominent speakers and panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, in addition to the Celebration of Life Festival, live music, food, beverages and the 2nd annual AIDS Walk Colorado Volleyball Tournament, held in conjunction with the Colorado Gay Volleyball Association."

These types of events, whether it be an AIDS Walk or a March for Breast Cancer Awareness, are a great opportunity to get out and show support for your community.  They also serve as an important reminder to us all that we are interconnected and need to support one another, especially in the fight against seemingly unconquerable health challenges.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Trying to be Greener

With the endless news coverage of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico lately, it got me wondering just how many barrels of oil are polluting the ocean each day compared to the amount of oil that enters the atmosphere from our gasoline consumption.

It turns out that the number of barrels of oil currently billowing into the Gulf from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is less than 1%* of the number of barrels of oil that the US consumes in the form of gasoline each day. America is up in arms about the Gulf Oil Disaster (as we should be), but this incident pales in comparison to the amount of pollution** that we release into our atmosphere every day from driving our cars and trucks.

The Gulf Spill will someday (hopefully soon) be capped, and the Gulf will recover in the months and years to come. However, the toxins, greenhouse gases, etc. that we are adding to our atmosphere continues, and the effects from global warming will be much more far reaching and a full recovery impossible to foresee in our lifetime.

(Visualization: Gary Strand, NCAR)

This little bit of knowledge has inspired me to try to be more green in my habits and actions. As a first step, I vow to take the bus to work more often. Using public transportation will add over an hour to my roundtrip commute time, but it will save me money on fuel and wear and tear on my vehicle, and hopefully be the beginning of a greener Tim.

*The BP oil spill is polluting the ocean with 60,000 barrels/day (current worst case estimate). Americans consume 9,000,000 barrels/day of motor gasoline.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

AIDS Walk Colorado

AIDS Walk Colorado is the Rocky Mountain Region’s largest and most successful HIV and AIDS fundraiser. This annual event helps increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and raise funds for clients of the Colorado AIDS Project.

On August 15th, 2009, I participated in the 22nd annual 5K march through Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood. More than 7,000 people from throughout the state came together to raise money for vital services for HIV/AIDS clients of Colorado AIDS Project and more than 30 other outstanding AIDS service organizations. The event served as a day to remember those we have lost to the disease and to celebrate life with a festival, live music, sporting tournaments, food, and beverages.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Planting at the Gardens on Spring Creek

The Gardens on Spring Creek is an 18 acre botanic garden in the city of Fort Collins, CO, whose mission is to foster environmental stewardship through horticulture. The Gardens offer education on sustainable ecology, and include a one-half acre Children's Garden with a focus on themes of community. The site also includes a 400 ft. parkway strip garden, community garden plots, and wildlife habitat. As funding becomes available through grants and donations, additional gardens will be established, including an extensive fruit and vegetable garden, a meditation garden, and a prairie garden.

On June 6th, I joined the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) in a cooperative urban restoration project to help build a demonstration garden that will showcase Colorado's diverse riparian and wetland plants, including golden currant, chokecherry, peachleaf willow, and porcupine sedge. This demonstration site will provide educational opportunities for adults and youth for years to come.

Our crew of about 30-40 volunteers planted approximately 200 shrubs and trees and helped remove invasive riparian vegetation along the creek during this one day project. This was a well-organized and fun event that was coordinated by WRV. They provided all the tools and instructions, breakfast, a phenomenal Caribbean style lunch, and, at the end of the day, they treated us all to beers and soda. It was a very gratifying and rewarding way to spend part of the weekend outside on a bright and sunny Colorado day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garage Sale to Benefit the Sister Carmen Community Center

The Sister Carmen Community Center (SCCC) is a non-profit food bank and thrift store that provides assistance to the residents of East Boulder County, and it is the area's only comprehensive emergency assistance center that has been serving the community for over 30 years. In addition to the food bank and thrift store, the SCCC also provides rent/mortgage assistance, legal counseling, free HIV testing, mammograms, diabetes screening, and more.

A friend and I pooled our resources and held a garage sale to raise money for the SCCC. The money from the proceeds of the sale of old computer equipment, printers, small kitchen appliances, etc. was used to purchase a wide range of consumables such as canned food, toiletries, diapers, cleaning supplies, over-the-counter medicines, and toys from a local grocer. These were then donated directly to the SCCC food bank and thrift store. The leftover items from the garage sale were contributed to the Community Center as well.

This activity was a good reminder to me of how senseless it is to hold on to so many things that just collect dust in closets, cupboards, and drawers, especially when they could benefit someone else. What's the point in keeping all those CDs I never listen to and books I'll never read again? At least by selling or donating them, I get something back - whether it be a little bit of money, or better yet, the good feelings and good will that come from giving to others - not to mention, it is a great way to help unclutter my home in the process.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mediterranean Sage Removal Project

Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) is a non-profit organization that provides an opportunity for people to come together, learn about their natural environment, and take direct action to restore and care for the land. WRV organizes about forty projects per year, completing a wide variety of important habitat restoration and conservation work in and around the Northern Colorado Front Range. Projects can be a single day, but some may last a weekend or longer with camping in spectacular mountain settings.

On Saturday, May 9th, I participated in a single day project to help reduce the population of
Mediterranean Sage in Boulder County. Left unchecked, this weed aggressively invades grasslands, reduces native plant populations, degrades wildlife habitat and affects the overall health of prairie ecosystems.

With shovels in hand, an army of 50 or so volunteers spent the day combing an area on and around Table Mountain to dig out this invasive weed one plant at a time. It was a beautiful, sun-drenched day with spectacular views of the mountains and a great opportunity to meet other volunteers and contribute to a good cause.