WRV's mission is to foster a community spirit of shared responsibility for the stewardship and restoration of public, protected, and ecologically important lands.
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!
WRV has grown and changed since that day. We now have a diverse Youth & Inclusiveness Program, and a comprehensive leadership development program. In 2017, we accomplished our 1,000th project, hosted our 40,000th volunteer, and facilitated the donation of $10M in volunteer time and expertise contributed to the restoration and stewardship of our most beloved natural areas.
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. 500-year floods hit most of the Colorado Front Range in 2013 and damage to ecosystems still remains. 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, healing communities and healing ourselves.
WRV is all about putting the needs of the land and people together. They were made for each other.
WRV undertakes a wide variety of land stewardship projects each year, primarily on public and protected landscapes. We restore streams, wetlands, and watersheds; re-vegetate natural areas damaged by floods, fires, overuse and abuse; build or maintain sustainable trails; obliterate old roads; remove invasive weeds; collect native seeds; and much more.
Our goals include:
* Completing well-planned, high-quality restoration projects involving volunteers in participant and leadership positions.
* Creating a strong network of volunteers capable of caring for public lands through courses, educational opportunities, and partnerships with other organizations.
* Encouraging community-based involvement in public lands by recruiting volunteers who live in communities near project sites or are members of groups who frequent those sites.
* Developing and implementing high quality, scientifically-based restoration techniques; and contributing to the scientific field of ecological restoration.
* Collaborating closely with land managers and community stakeholders to identify key sites in need of ecological restoration. We are a non-political organization that welcomes any partner who wants to join forces to care for public lands.
* Involving a diverse audience, including urban and rural residents, adults, students, under-served youth, environmental groups, clubs, and recreational users of public lands.
* Working hard, having fun and celebrating the love of mountains, forests, streams, and open spaces that motivates our work.
While each project location and ecosystem in which we work is unique, and barring ecological variables outside our control (i.e. plant survival rates in drought or extreme heat, etc.), WRV sees a high success rate, and the public land agencies with which we work express great satisfaction with our projects, repeatedly ask for our help, and recommend us to other agencies. WRV is even involved in innovating and testing new ecological restoration techniques, such as new designs of erosion control structures, and natural forms of high alpine transplant protection. WRV has a long track record of project design & implementation on time, on budget, and with a clean safety record.
"I participated in the Summit Lake / Echo Lake Restoration Project on July 26 - 27th. It was my very first project with WRV, and I wanted to let you know how impressed I was with the entire operation! Organizing a multi-day project involving 50+ people is a daunting task, yet the Project Leaders pulled it off flawlessly! It was obvious the leaders had put in an enormous amount of time preparing for the project. For every hour we are on a project, I'm sure there are tens of hours of pre-project planning and preparation! I appreciate all that planning and preparation work, as that makes projects go exceptionally well! WRV is an amazing organization, and I am excited to be getting involved with you guys!"
-- 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