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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 $21.61 worth of habitat and trail restoration.
WRV engages 1,000+ individual volunteers in about 100 projects annually, and engages 500+ diverse youth in restoration service learning. This is only possible because volunteers train to lead other volunteers, building a community of land stewards for the future.
WRV engages 1,000+ 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 2016, WRV completed its 800th restoration event since inception in 1999.
Over three years after the devastating floods across Colorado, our hearts go out to the thousands of people who were deeply affected by this disaster. The scope of the damage is still large, and work to address it will increase into 2017. WRV is first and foremost about community, working together to accomplish great things.
WRV continues to take on fire and flood-related restoration projects. We greatly appreciate your generous donation to help support disaster recovery efforts and ongoing restoration projects. Your support will go to recruit and mobilize volunteers, grant funders 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 participates in both the Big Thompson River Restoration Coalition, and the Saint Vrain Creek Coalition. These collaborative efforts help us build partnerships and plan for the future of our watersheds.
WRV's Youth & Inclusiveness Program was recently featured in a Cornell University study, which showed that participants in WRV's youth program doubled their knowledge of the impact of the flood and how they can help address it. And the youth are busy earning awards for their participation in the program as well: WRV Youth Project Leader Seth Blum was presented with the Presidential Environmental Youth Award, among ten winners from across the nation. Meanwhile, Mark Garcia and Martin Meraz were among 11 winners of Boulder's Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award! At the same time, we look towards the future with excitement about incorporating youth voice more centrally into our programs, focusing even more on empowerment and community-building as routes to build youth connections to careers in the outdoors and the environment. We are excited to continue work with youth from diverse backgrounds, focusing especially on underserved youth in our community.
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 on the ground, and that require less administrative work than restricted funds, will always be of the greatest value. Your unrestricted gifts allow WRV to nimbly respond to unexpected events such as floods and fires; they can provide match pools for grant funds; and they cover vital costs such as leadership training, food for volunteers, reliable expert staff, recruitment and the transportation of tools, youth and volunteers to sites that many grants will not fund.
Most importantly, unrestricted donations help us build community, which is an investment in the future of our organization and its health.
2) In the aftermath of the flooding of 2013, your support continues to be important to the local community, as Colorado's world class trout habitat and river-side communities continue to need repair. In fact, agencies predict there will be a peak of post-flood work in 2017 compared to all other years so far.
3) Funding for WRV's Youth and Inclusiveness Program is of vital use for our organization's youngest program. This support connects the voices and leadership of the next generation with service learning opportunities that help them form a meaningful connection to and an understanding of the needs of our environment.
With help, in 2017, WRV will complete roughly 100 restoration projects on wild lands across the Front Range, from trail work on 14,000 foot peaks, to post-flood repair of streams. Work this year included the 800th restoration event since inception in 1999. WRV also had *243 attendances at 2*4 different leadership and technical skill trainings, some multi-day, as well as the successful completion of the *seventh* class of High School Crew Leadership trainees, including youth from Larimer County! Training is a crucial part of empowering volunteers to lead the change that is needed to address environmental problems. We support people in developing as leaders in ecological restoration and creating a culture of stewardship.
Volunteers achieved amazing results in 2016. Those results included: planting over *27,500 native plants, shrubs and trees, engaging over 1,000 youth in meaningful restoration service learning, over 6 miles of trail work, over 8 miles of stream or shoreline restored, over 319,500 acres surveyed and weeded, and over 1.5 miles of unnecessary roads reclaimed, during their more than 38,000 hours of service with WRV!*
We continued our long-term restoration commitments at Summit Lake near Mount Evans, along the Big Thompson River in Larimer County, Brainard Lake Recreation Area west of Boulder, and at Campbell Valley north of Fort Collins. At each site, transformational progress was made at volunteer events.
WRV volunteers continued to be motivated to help restore areas affected by the 2013 flood. Three years later, streams that had jumped out of their channel, were stripped of riparian vegetation, or down-cut, remained more vulnerable to further erosion and flood damage due to simple runoff, which threatens our community's water supplies, as well as those homes and infrastructure which lie near rivers. WRV volunteers completed *sixteen* more post-flood projects in 2016 to restore the health of these areas.
Volunteers also continued high-priority work to restore wildlife habitat where fire suppression has degraded it, while at the same time reducing the risk of wildfire in the wildland-urban interface in multiple locations, including the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch near Red Feather Lakes, and *Pence Park near Evergreen.*
In addition, WRV took great strides in a cooperative weed management strategy to address invasive A-listed noxious weed populations. The strategy includes partnerships with both public agencies and private landowners, and an extensive volunteer effort to approach eradication of myrtle spurge.
In 2017, WRV plans to implement about 100 projects involving over 1,000 volunteers. All projects have been identified as high priority by WRV's land management agency partners. Our work in 2017 will continue to leverage an impressive amount of community involvement in order to affect real change on the ground.
We will begin the *eighth* year of our High School Crew Leader Training course, which provides valuable leadership skills, life skills and opportunities for young people in Boulder and Larimer Counties.
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 will recruit and train at least 150 new crew leaders, technical assistants, project leaders, cooks, and project scouts. 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.
Finally, as part of an extensive strategic planning process, WRV has prioritized a renewed focus on our Core Values, with special emphasis on Building Community. These plans are still evolving, but Community Building is an essential part of healing the land, and brings its own benefits apart from acres weeded or water quality improved and protected. Look forward to more information about that in 2017.
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 who donate over $1 million worth of time and expertise to restore Colorado's beloved natural heritage at ~100 projects each year. That group is 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, and our quality of life. 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. At the same time, 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. Yet, 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 bad news.
• People gain valuable skills and leadership development transferable to other areas of their lives, education, and careers.
• Social interaction, friendship, building trust and 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 16 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 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 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 $7 million of their time in the past 16 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 From 1999-2014
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 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 in a short period and reach a diverse audience, 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've been working with WRV since I was about eight or nine. It's just a part of my life and I think that it's an incredible opportunity for youth to work in the world and to gain insight into leadership and the environment and our future and the future of our world. I think it's an amazing opportunity. I love WRV and couldn't imagine my life without it ---Shannon Bull, 15
I like volunteering because it's fun. And you get to interact with nature. And other places. You get more advantages to life, colleges, jobs and all sorts of stuff. ---Raul
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
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