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Wildlands Restoration Volunteers
You can make a difference for Colorado's natural areas, youth and citizens by supporting WRV. Every $1 from an individual is turned into $17.84 worth of habitat and trail restoration on the ground.
WRV engages 3,500+ volunteers in 125 projects annually, and engages 500+ diverse youth in restoration service learning. This is possible because volunteers train to lead other volunteers, building a community of land stewards for the future.
WRV engages thousands of volunteers in approximately 100 land stewardship projects each year, completing a wide variety of high priority habitat restoration throughout Colorado, and engaging youth in restoration service learning. In 2014, WRV completed its 600th restoration event since inception in 1999.
Over a year after the devastating floods across Colorado, our hearts still go out to the thousands of people who were deeply affected by this disaster. The scope of the damage is still huge. WRV is first and foremost about community, working together to accomplish great things.
WRV continues to take on flood-related restoration projects. We would greatly appreciate your generous donations to help support flood recovery efforts and ongoing restoration projects. Your support will go to recruit and mobilize volunteers and corporate support, train volunteer leaders, purchase restoration equipment and materials, transport equipment and materials to affected locations, feed and insure volunteers to do the needed work to restore our trails and watersheds, and more!
WRV's Fort Collins Office is now the lead entity in the Big Thompson River Restoration Coalition, and continues to serve an integral role in post-fire restoration in the High Park Fire Restoration Coalition.
WRV's Youth & Inclusiveness Program recently launched our Environmental Leadership Certificate for youth who take part in High School Crew Leader Training, serve on our Youth Steering Committee, volunteer on restoration projects, and take on self-directed leadership activities. This new accolade will help youth with next steps toward jobs and educational goals.
WRV is deeply grateful to our devoted community of volunteers, donors and partner agencies, who have created our success. Individuals can help WRV meet the need for restoration as follows:
1) Unrestricted contributions, that can be used for changing needs and require less administrative time than restricted funds, will always be of the greatest value for WRV. Your unrestricted gifts allow WRV to nimbly respond to unexpected events such as floods and fires; they match restricted grant funds; and they cover vital costs such as leadership training, food for volunteers, reliable expert staff, and the transportation to get tools, youth and volunteers to sites that many grants will not fund.
2) In the aftermath of the flooding of 2013, your support is now even more important to the local community, as Colorado's world class trout habitat and local trail systems need so much repair.
3) Funding for WRV's Youth and Inclusiveness Initiative is of vital use for our organization's youngest program. This support connects the energy of the next generation with service learning opportunities that help them form a connection to and an understanding of the needs of our environment.
4) WRV has outgrown our home. Can you help transplant WRV to a new office? We need 1,400-2,000 sqft of office space for 10+ people in the Boulder area with an attached garage or storage area for restoration tools. We need 1,000+ sqft with a shop or 2-3 bay garage on the property in the Fort Collins area. If you can donate office space, donate a building, offer a discount, or introduce us to a building owner who may give a discount, you will help save precious resources to heal the land, and provide the room for our community to grow and do more great work!
In 2014, WRV welcomed seven new staff members to expand WRV's impact! These new staffers are allowing WRV to better address urgent restoration needs facing our communities. With this help, in 2014, WRV completed over 100 restoration projects on wild lands across the Front Range, from trail work on 14,000 foot peaks, to post-flood repair of trails. Work this year included the 600th restoration event since inception in 1999. WRV also had 428 attendances at 30 different leadership and technical skill trainings, some multi-day, including the successful completion of the fifth and sixth classes of High School Crew Leadership trainees. Trainings are a crucial part of giving volunteers the ability to lead the change that is needed to address environmental problems. We support people in learning to become leaders in ecological restoration and creating a culture of stewardship.
Volunteers achieved amazing results in 2014. Those results included: seeding or mulching over 9,000,000 square feet of High Park Fire burn area, planting almost 19,000 plants and trees, and restoring over 98,000 square feet of wetlands during their more than 37,000 hours of service with WRV!
We continued our long-term restoration commitments at Summit Lake near Mount Evans, in Chico Basin east of Pueblo, on Boulder Greenways within the City of Boulder, and at Campbell Valley north of Fort Collins. At each site transformational progress was made at volunteer events.
WRV volunteers were highly motivated to help to restore areas affected by the 2013 flood. Over 36 hours of rain on September 11, 2013 had a devastating impact on Northern Colorado's Front Range communities, with millions of dollars of damage to our rivers and trails. This was designated a 500-year flood. Streams that jumped out of their channel, are stripped of riparian vegetation, or are down-cut, are more vulnerable to further erosion and flood damage due to simple runoff, and damaged trails are closed, which negatively impacts our community's physical and psychological health. WRV volunteers completed six post-flood projects in 2013 and ten more in 2014 to restore the health of these areas. In addition, WRV is the lead entity and fiscal sponsor of the Big Thompson River Restoration Coalition, in which dozens of organizations are responding collectively to the flood.
Volunteers also continued high-priority restoration work on high-intensity burn areas from the High Park Fire, continuing to stabilize slopes by building erosion control structures, seeding and mulching. These activities help protect roads, reservoirs, rivers, homes and communities from the threat of further landslides and flooding.
In addition, WRV took great strides using a new cooperative weed management strategy to address invasive myrtle spurge populations. The new strategy includes partnerships with both public agencies and private landowners, and an extensive volunteer effort to approach eradication of this A-listed noxious weed.
In 2015, WRV plans to implement over 100 projects involving over 3,500 volunteer attendances. All projects have been identified as high priority by WRV's land management agency partners. Our work in 2015 will continue to leverage an impressive amount of community involvement in order to affect real change on the ground.
We will begin the sixth year of our High School Crew Leader Training, which provides valuable leadership skills, life skills and opportunities for young people in Boulder County.
WRV's project offerings are as diverse as Colorado's wild spaces, and that diversity appeals to people in a wide range of ages and abilities. In order to implement these projects, WRV recruits and trains at least 150 new crew leaders, technical assistants, project leaders, cooks, and project scouts annually. We have an extensive training program in basic and advanced restoration techniques and leadership skills. Training qualified and motivated volunteer leaders is critical to our success, as a primary goal of WRV is to empower average citizens to take responsibility for the stewardship of public lands. Without the important contributions of these dedicated volunteers, our success on the ground would simply not be possible.
In 1999, about 20 people gathered to plant willows around Heron Pond at Pella Crossing, near Longmont. From this humble beginning grew a corps of thousands of dedicated volunteers with a formal leadership training program, who donate over $1 million worth of time and expertise to restore Colorado's beloved natural heritage at over 65 sites each year. That group is called WRV.
The Land Needs People
Colorado is world famous for its spectacular natural beauty, clear mountain streams and fantastic outdoor recreation - a huge boon to our economy. As our population grows, recreation is increasing. Wildfires are burning more intensely. As a result of these and other impacts, many of Colorado's forests, streams and trails are suffering terribly. At the same time, land management budgets are falling, which means fewer resources to keep up with greater need. There is a large and growing gap between the ecological needs of special places and the available resources to care for them. Volunteer stewardship has demonstrated itself to be a very effective way to address this need. Land management agencies are increasingly eager to engage volunteers. Far less than 1% of Coloradans are engaged in land stewardship. We believe there is a vast potential to mobilize more volunteers, and in so doing build a "Culture of Stewardship." However, resources are needed to train and organize volunteers and provide them with tools and materials.
People Need Community with a Purpose
Volunteerism in general, and outdoor stewardship volunteerism specifically, provides a wide range of benefits to people. We've seen many of these powerful benefits among our own volunteers. Many people need and want these things. Below are a few examples.
• Ecological knowledge of place.
• The opportunity to "give back" to natural places we love.
• Pure satisfaction and joy in accomplishing something tangible for the land.
• People want a vision of hope through collective action, rather than just more bad news.
• People gain valuable leadership skills transferable to other areas of their life.
• Social interaction, friendship, relationships, belonging to a thriving community.
• Many volunteers speak of the link between healing places, communities and ourselves.
WRV is all about putting the needs of the land and people together. They were made for each other.
Board Chair/President Statement
Since its inception 15 years ago, WRV has grown into a major force among the many Colorado based non-profit organizations focusing on land restoration.
Such success is due to two main factors:
- The strong leadership and operational skills of the WRV staff
- The establishment of a dedicated Board of Directors focusing on governance and strategic planning
From a "working" Board helping in the operational details of the organization, the Board of Directors has grown into an overseer of the Executive Director as well as a platform for strategic planning. Even though it does not get involved in the day to day operation, the Board is still involved in the more strategic activities via attendance to the various committees and task forces.
- Balanced budget year after year with an adequate financial cushion at the beginning of the year
- Rigorous governance of the organization via regular policy and financial reviews.
- Three year strategic plan laid out at a yearly retreat and reviewed every year
- Support of a strong presence in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming through a Fort Collins satellite office
- Very close cooperation with the Executive Director on all aspects of the organization and particularly in increasing the number and the quality of volunteer leaders
- Strong recognition of WRV as a leader in restoration by not only all main land agencies covering Colorado but other organizations as well focusing on stewardship of the land, such as The Nature Conservancy, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative and many others.
- Achievement of a reputation allowing WRV to receive multiple forms of recognition and awards from a diverse foundation base.
Challenges and remedy:
- Evolution of the Board of Directors into a group focusing even more on strategic planning and fundraising
o Continuous search for Board members with complementary skills
- Enhancement of our leadership base in order to keep pace with the growth of our volunteer base.
o Identifying potential leaders among volunteers
o Multiple training classes at all leadership levels
- Enhance our visibility in the local community
o Multiple talks to various organizations
o Enhance our presence in schools (Youth & Inclusiveness Initiative)
o Enhance our contacts with the business community through Chambers of Commerce and other societies
- Drastically increase our individual donor base in order to tackle valuable restoration projects with limited funding.
o Enhance our visibility through the local community
o Active Board involvement in fund raising
o Multiple fund raising events
- Expansion of our activities into post-flood and fire-related mitigation activities
o Expanded staffing and number of events by 42% to address urgent on-the-ground needs
o Seek capacity building funds to arm volunteer leaders with the right tools, equipment and training for new types of work
o Partnership with other organizations covering those areas.
Executive Director Statement
WHAT EXCITES ME ABOUT WILDLANDS RESTORATION VOLUNTEERS
Our work brings out the best in people as they feel the satisfaction of seeing tangible fruits of their sweat and passion. WRV engages thousands of volunteers each year across the Colorado Front Range in the restoration and stewardship of public lands. Our volunteers have contributed over $6.4 million of their time in the past 15 years.
WRV is the only organization in Colorado whose mission is entirely about mobilizing and engaging thousands of volunteers, focused primarily on ecological restoration.
A Few Statistics
25 miles of streams restored 20,169,868 sq.ft. hand seeded
43 acres of wetland restored 248 acres of grasslands benefited
>254,000 native trees and shrubs planted
3,393 acres of noxious weeds removed
31 miles of trails constructed, maintained, or altered to protect sensitive habitat
6 miles of boardwalk and protective fences built
320,688 volunteer hours
and much more!
WRV provides more than just volunteer laborers. We have an extensive volunteer leader development program, and hundreds of active well trained leaders. We also provide all our own tools and have excellent design expertise among our volunteers and staff.
I am particularly excited about our Youth program, partly because we've managed to grow it tenfold in three years, but more so because it's so satisfying to provide meaningful leadership training to young people and see how they are benefited. For instance, consider this quote from one of our teenage volunteers:
I joined the WRV Youth Steering Committee when I was 16, because I wanted to see more kids get involved. My experiences with WRV helped me get a job in the Junior Ranger Program. I learned a lot about leadership and myself through WRV's projects and Crew Leader Training. Those leadership skills are definitely transferable to everything I am doing in life, whether it's being the captain of my Ultimate Frisbee team, or any kind of collaborative project. Ultimately, my experiences with WRV totally changed my life. Now, I'm studying Wildland Restoration at the University of Montana, Missoula and want to make that my career.
- David Fulton Beale (WRV youth volunteer)
Today's youth are the land stewards of tomorrow. The vitality of our open spaces in the future depends on energizing and engaging youth now. To that end, WRV works closely with schools and other youth programs to engage kids, frequently providing opportunities for low income kids that might never have a chance to learn about our precious Colorado natural resources and have hands-on opportunities to take care of them. We also engage multi-generational families. For instance, our native seed collection program has been a great opportunity for families, with 15 to 20 events each year tailored to families with small children.
WRV has a youth leader training program training teens to lead crews and plan projects. This program provides valuable leadership skills that prepare young people to get jobs or pursue advanced education.
-- Tracy Halward, Volunteer
"This is a volunteer group that does EXCELLENT work...The nice part about WRV is they do all the recruiting, planning, design, supervision, follow-up monitoring, and provide their own equipment...They have botanists/restoration experts on staff and often have more experience and expertise than we do...They go out and recruit other matching funds to help the project grow." - Wendy R. Magwire, Forest Wildlife Biologist, White River National Forest
"Working with the WRV community has helped me grow as an employee and a person. I sincerely believe that community can make a difference, and I am so happy to continue working side by side with fellow environmental enthusiasts to help restore our natural world." - Molly Hernandez, Crew Leader, firefighter and future geologist
"The project we did with WRV was a great experience for our students and staff. We all bonded as we worked together to re-vegetate Carnage Canyon. The WRV leaders made it fun and informative. We enjoyed learning why planting willows, choke cherries and cottonwoods would help stabilize this area that was destroyed by over use of recreational vehicles. After hiking up the canyon and planting for a few hours we could already see the difference in the area and could imagine how much better it would be without all of the erosion we saw. It was a truly rewarding way to spend the day." - Jodi Sherman, "I Have a Dream" Foundation Project Leader
"WRV offers a wide variety of youth the chance to get outside and develop a deeper connection with the land. It's nice to have a sense of power and to be able to have a choice in what happens to the public land around us, while working with it hands on and with your friends." - Carrie Harrison, WRV Youth Volunteer, age 16