A vote you can feel good about

Aren’t you ready to be done hearing election news? Take heart, my friends: just one more week. In the meantime, allow me to request your vote on something less polarizing. Here, I’ll explain:

Colorado is a pretty rad place. Hey, it’s the Centennial State! We get somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 days of sunshine every year. We have 54 peaks over 14,000 feet, plus countless others. Our governor wants to ensure that, within a generation, there’s a green space within 10 minutes of every Coloradan. We have pretty much All of the Microbreweries. Our capital is literally exactly a mile above sea level. Highest paved road in North America! Mike the Headless Chicken Days! I could go on. Basically, we’ve got it going on.

Because of all those excellent things, everyone wants to move here. I can’t blame them. It’s really great.

But—ack! There’s always a but—all this great stuff comes, as always, with some responsibility. An influx of newly-minted Coloradans, who can’t wait to explore mountains and rivers and meadows, puts serious strain on the trails that run through them.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use trails on public land. You should. Go! Do it! But it absolutely does mean you should be a steward of our natural resources. Which can mean a lot of things. For example, it should always mean packing out all your garbage and picking up after your dog. But what if everyone went a step farther than that?

Okay, time for a disclaimer: I work for this organization called Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), whose mission is to enable Coloradans to become active stewards of their natural resources. Chances are, if you’ve hiked (or biked or run) on a trail in Colorado sometime in the last three decades, VOC has had a hand in its construction or maintenance.

Which is where you, gentle reader, come in: if you use public land for recreation, you have a responsibility to take care of it. This can mean signing up for one of 50+ projects VOC does annually, which includes things like trail construction, seeding, harvesting, weed mitigation, and fire and flood restoration. You literally do not have to have any skills to volunteer for a project. You just have to show up, and a seasoned crew leader will show you some tools and explain how to use them and pretty soon, you will have built a trail. That people will use. For generations, even. This is a cool thing.

But wait, you’re thinking. It’s already November! Isn’t it too cold and snowy to volunteer?

You’re right. VOC’s project season ended in October, and it will pick up again in May. Not to worry! There’s something you can do in the meantime. Well, a few things. You can download VOC’s app, which provides you with do-it-yourself stewardship tasks to complete at your leisure. You can, at any time, donate some cold hard cash, which I can’t not point out because VOC is a nonprofit.

And there’s one other thing. This one is so unbelievably easy, will take you only a few seconds, and has the potential to help VOC net up to $18,000 to maintain the beloved and iconic Herman Gulch Trail. If you only do one good deed today, this should be it.

The Herman Gulch Trail is one of twelve trails in the running to receive money from Michelob Ultra’s “Go the Extra Mile” Fund. The percentage of funds—it’s $200,000 total—awarded to each trail corresponds with the number of votes it receives. Herman Gulch is the only trail in Colorado in the running, and as someone who’s got a pretty good idea of the goings on at VOC, I feel qualified to assure you that the funds will go to good use. (In fact, you can volunteer to work on that project in 2017!)

All you have to do is visit the “Go the Extra Mile” Contest page, vote for the Herman Gulch Trail, and verify your email address. (It’s one vote per email address, so it’s not even one of those things where you’ll feel obligated to go back and vote day after day. See? So easy.)

So there: a vote you can feel really good about.

To recap:

  1. Vote in this contest.
  2. Enjoy going outside all winter long.
  3. Be a steward and sign up for at least one VOC project in 2017. It’s good for you and for Colorado and anyway you’ll like it. You will learn stuff and put in a hard day’s work and accomplish something excellent. It will feel good. You will have fun.
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