Lefthand Canyon Restoration Grant - 2001
Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
In the fall of 2000 a coalition of motorized recreation groups started working with the Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest to improve the conditions at the Lefthand Canyon OHV area. The Lefthand Canyon OHV area was seeing an increase in user created motorcycle trails, user created 4WD roads and hill climbs. The original 4WD road switchbacks had been cut across so much that it was hard to know where the original road was. Also, the upper meadow was being damaged from all the motorized use off the main 4WD road.
The effort began with Martha Moran, Boulder Ranger District Recreation Officer, who wanted to work with the user groups to improve the conditions in the Lefthand area. The Trailridge Runners 4WD Club, Northern Colorado Trail Riders, and Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit had been cleaning up the lower section of the Lefthand Canyon 4WD road for over 10 years. Martha started working with these organized motorized groups, as well as the Rocky Mountain Trials Riders Association, the Colorado Association of 4WD Clubs, and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition to develop a restoration project and to write a grant to request funding from the Colorado State Parks OHV program. The scope of the grant would be to restore the upper meadow and surrounding areas, remove the user created hill climbs, and control the motorized use back onto the designated 4WD roads and motorized trails.
After many meetings with all the interested parties, the Lefthand Canyon Restoration grant was written and presented to the Colorado State Parks for consideration. The Lefthand Canyon Restoratio grant included letters of support from the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative, Fourteener's Initiative, Mile Hi Jeep Club, CSU Big Wheels, Hillbillies 4X4, Eurosport International, Cycles of Boulder, Indian Peaks Wilderness Alliance, and the James Creek Watershed Initiative. In the Spring of 2001 the Colorado State Parks approved the Lefthand Canyon Restoration Grant.
In the Spring of 2002 the Boulder Ranger District of the USFS hired a person to work on the Lefthand Canyon area to monitor the use and collect public input. Documentation, by use of a GPS, of the existing 4WD roads and Motorcycle trails was begun to compare the on the ground network to the designated road and trail system. The Forest Service has produced a Map of Lefthand Canyon showing the designated routes.
Through the Summer of 2002 planning for the location of the posts and cables took place. The metal posts and cables would be used on the main 4WD road to keep motorized vehicles on the designated 4WD road. The Forest Service also began the process of acquiring the engineering approvals for this type of route control.
In the Winter of 2002 Matt Nunn, a Trailridge Runners 4WD Club member, purchased metal to build steel versions of the standard Forest Service information kiosk. On February 8, 2003, members of the Trailridge Runners 4WD club and members of the B.R.O.N.C.O club met at Greg Beery's shop, 4WD Xtreme, to cut the steel into parts that were used to build the information panels. Large steel pipe were also cut to length for use as the vertical supports. These new information panels are designed to last. The all steel construction and fully welded (thanks to Matt Nunn) assembly of these panels will help them survive over the years.
In April of 2003, after the Lefthand Canyon Cleanup, the Trailridge Runners 4WD Club continued with our clubs part of the Lefthand Grant. We installed the first of the three metal informational panels at the entrance to the Lefthand Canyon OHV area.
Construction began by digging the four post holes that would hold the concrete footers for each support pipe. Once these were in place and the concrete had hardened a bit, the previously assembled steel information panels were cut to size and hoisted into place with a back hoe. Matt then welded the cross braces to the posts.
After putting all three panels up, the angle iron and plexiglass doors were hung. The final assembly was sturdy and ready for the public. Brian Rasmussen, Boulder Ranger District personnel, painted the wooden back panels and installed Forest Service information the next day.
Two weeks after we installed the information panels the Lefthand Canyon had it's flash flood. The amount of material that was moved from the road entrance was the worst that I had ever seen. All of the loose dirt had been washed away and only the larger rocks remained at the parking lot and main entrance to Lefthand. I though for sure that the information panels would be laying flat, but as we approached, there they were just as we had left them when we completed our project. The signs of the flash flood were all around. If the sign can survive this, hopefully it will last a long time.
In June of 2003 the second kiosk for Lefthand Canyon was installed at Five Points. The project involved getting the metal sign panels, concrete, and Matt Nunn's welder and an air hammer up to the work site. We all met at the beginning of the Lefthand Canyon 4WD road and loaded up the vehicles. Dan Lawson hauled the concrete, Darrel Turner hauled up the signs and Richard Boddy towed up Matt's welding trailer.
Matt's trailer lost one tail light on the way up, but we got all of our stuff to Five Points. The first task was to get the holes dug for the sign. Five Points is very rocky, thus the reason for the jack hammer and drill. Everyone took turns digging into the rocks and shoveling out the busted up debris. It took a few hours of working to get all four holes deep enough. (We did use the back hoe to finish off the last one.)
The next stage was getting the concrete going. Bill Boitano brought up 30 gallons of water and an electric pump so we could mix up the concrete. The pipes were set and concrete poured. Matt began cutting the panels to fit in between the posts. The welding didn't take long, but the fitting was the time consumer, especially on the last panel.
While we were at Five Points we put in the temporary closure gate that would be used to close off themeadow area in the following weeks. The temporary closure was for the post and cable project that is part of the Lefthand Canyon Grant.
The post and cable work took place in the middle of July, 2003. The contractor used a boring machine to put in the holes for the steel posts. Each post was then anchored into the hole with concrete, leaving about 3 feet of the post above ground.
The next step was pulling the steel cable through the pipes. The contractor incorporated a custom system to pull the cable in continuous lengths through each post. The cables were pulled taunt and clamped in place. As added security, the cable ends were welded to keep them in place.
In March of 2004 the third metal information kiosk was installed at Olympia, the next saddle north of Five Points. Getting the kiosk material and the equipment to the site was the challenge. The easiest route to this location was up Castle Gulch. The size of the obstacles on the main Lefthand Canyon road are not negotiable with a trailer. Members of the Trailridge Runners 4WD Club used their vehicles and trailers to haul the concrete, metal panels and posts, generator, and tools up the narrow shut of Castle Gulch and across the ridge over to Olympia.
After choosing a location to place the Kiosk the holes were dug for the support posts. This site was much easier to dig the holes and the work was completed quickly. Rocks were gathered as fill material for the support post holes and the post centers. Using the 30 gallons of water we mixed concrete to anchor the four posts and fill the post centers. Once the first two posts were placed and firm enough the first of four panels was hoisted into location with the use of a receiver hitch mounted hydraulic hoist. After positioning and leveling the panel into place, Matt Nunn welded the panel to the support posts. Each panel was put through this process. Once the panels had been welded in all four posts were filled with concrete to finish off the project.
This panel was immediately used to inform the public about the emergency closure of the Overland Fire area just to the north of this ridge.
On April 17th, 2004 the main meadow restoration project took place. The week before the meadow restoration volunteers from the Trailridge Runners 4WD Club and the Pinzgauer 4WD Club hauled up the materials for the main project. Also, before the project a contracted back hoe repaired the water drainage problems on Forest Road 286, tilled and contoured the meadow, and filled the erosion gullies. Top soil was consolidated while the decomposing granite and clay material was used in the bottom of the gullies. This material was packed to insure itís stability. The final process was to distribute the top soil over the filled erosion gullies for the volunteers to seed and mulch.
Over 100 volunteers worked with hand tools on designated areas laid out by Ed Self of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers and Walsh Environmental Engineering. Each area had a crew and crew leader tasked with a specific work description. Some areas required check dams and water flow control, others needed contouring and seeding. After the main work on all the areas was completed hydro-mulch and straw was laid over the work areas by Americorp volunteers to hold the seeds in place and assist in the first growth that would take place during the spring.
With the light rains that followed the project new growth has already begun in the restoration area. Maintenance of the pipe and cable to keep motorized recreationists off the restoration will continue, as well as frequent checks of the area by the Forest Service.
After two months of final touches and growth the meadow area is on its way to recovery.
In 2001 motorized recreation groups invested over 30 hours in meetings and field reviews to write the Lefthand Canyon Restoration Grant.
In 2003 work began on the three metal Kiosks and the pipe and cable route control. Some 436 hours were invested in purchasing materials, designing and constructing the Kiosks and installing two of the Kiosks in the Lefthand Canyon Recreation Area. Also during the summer the pipe and cable route control was installed.
In 2004 the planning and execution of the meadow restoration took place. The restoration work included 1440 hours of volunteer effort, as well as 368 hours of hauling materials and installing the third Kiosk.