By Kurt Kunkle

Field Inventory Director

Colorado Environmental Coalition

Visiting Colorado’s Canyon Country is a rewarding experience. Exploring a small desert canyon filled with dramatic cliffs, mysterious rock outcroppings and the twists and turns of a pristine creek pulls one further into the wilderness and closer to wildness. Finding a single tree growing out of pure rock on top of a craggy pinnacle teaches us that we my not have it so rough after all.

If you could give something back to these special places that enrich our lives, would you?

Volunteering for the Colorado Environmental Coalition’s (CEC) Wilderness Inventory is the best way to both enhance your life and help protect the wild lands that make Colorado so special and unique. Sign up and join the hundreds of people from different walks of life who have visited the canyons and used their experience to work toward its protection as wilderness.

Colorado environmental organizations have identified 1.4 million acres of public lands in Colorado’s Canyon Country that are wild and pristine.

The Citizens’ Wilderness Proposal (CWP) proposes to protect these areas through wilderness designation. The areas in the CWP are unique, diverse and primitive places. These places are critical for wildlife, recreation and open space and will help protect Colorado’s natural heritage. Lands included in the CWP are endangered by unprecedented development and sprawl, threatening our quality of life.

The CWP is a reasonable approach to saving Colorado's wild canyon country; it protects 14 percent of these lands as wilderness but leaves 86 percent open to other uses, such as mining and off-road vehicle use. You can support the effort by volunteering for the Wilderness Inventory Program.

As a volunteer you will visit places proposed for wilderness and complete a Wilderness Characteristics Survey. It’s not hard at all - we teach you all you need to know - and in fact it’s quite fun and rewarding! Your completed survey (a short report with photographs) will answer the question, "Does this area qualify for wilderness?"

In order to be protected as wilderness, an area must be roadless, natural and have recreation opportunities. The information you collect on an area’s wilderness qualities will become part of "The Great Wilderness Book," which will be presented to decision makers and the media, proving that these areas qualify for wilderness and that there is support for protecting these places. Attend one of following events to learn more:

• Sign up for a Volunteer Orientation Day or a Wilderness Inventory Weekend. On a Volunteer Orientation, you will join an inventory trainer for a hike into a proposed wilderness area and learn how to do the wilderness Characteristic Survey by actually doing it! We will provide you with information about the Citizens’ Wilderness Proposal and wilderness in general. After this day trip, you can visit and inventory other areas on your own or join us for another hike!

• Or you can spend three glorious days hiking in a proposed Wilderness Area on a Wilderness Inventory Weekend, sponsored jointly by CEC and the Colorado Mountain Club. On the first day you will learn how to do a Wilderness inventory and on the next two days you will explore and survey different parts of the area. We camp at our cars. Dinners and breakfasts are prepared for you. In the evening, you can relax around the campfire with your fellow wilderness mappers and then camp out under the stars. A $35 donation helps cover the cost of food.

Dates and Places

Volunteer Orientation Day:

March 11 at Mares Tail Canyon near Cortez;

March 25 at Cross Canyon near Cortez (tentative);

April 23 at Hunter Canyon near Grand Junction;

May 13 at Black Man Windy Gulch near Meeker;

July 8 at Castle Peak near Eagle;

August 5 at Thompson Creek near Carbondale.

Wilderness Inventory Weekends:

May 19-21 at Skull Creek/Bull Canyon (NW Colorado);

May 27-29 at Vermillion/Cold Springs (NW Colorado);

June 23-25 at Browns Canyon (Central Colorado);

July 14-16 at Troublesome (Central Colorado);

August 25-27 at McKenna Peak (SW Colorado);

September 2-4 at Cross Canyon/Mares Tail Canyon (SW Colorado).

More dates will be added, so please check our web site at for the latest schedule updates. To sign up or get more information, call CEC at (303) 534-7066 ext. 205 or visit our web site. 

April 2000 Online Newsletter - Peak & Prairie Home Page - Rocky Mountain Chapter Home Page