Friends of Wilderness

A nonprofit organization

$8,011 raised

67% complete

$12,000 Goal

For over twenty years, Friends of Wilderness volunteers have coordinated with the Forest Service to educate the public and maintain the trails of the magnificent Zirkel, Flat Tops and Sarvis Creek wilderness areas in northwest Colorado.


"I just wanted to drop a note to tell you how special FOW is to the Forest Service and our mission.  The work that the group is able to achieve on the ground each year is truly amazing and very encouraging.  FOW has been and will always be one of Routt National Forests most important partners and we can't thank you enough."

Jamie Statezny, Yampa District Ranger

Since we perform most of our work outdoors, we frequently have visitors stop and say thank us for the work and information that FOW does. 

Giving Activity


Friends of Wilderness partners with the U.S. Forest Service in managing and protecting the Wilderness and backcountry lands of the Routt National Forest and adjacent national forests.

Background Statement

In 1994, Elaine and Win Dermody arrived in Steamboat Springs. Having previously worked for the Forest Service in Creede, CO, Win was hired by the local Forest Service office to be an Information Specialist, and Elaine was encouraged and trained to be a volunteer wilderness ranger. She recruited friend Jan Hatcher, and they began patrolling the Zirkel Wilderness area in 1995.

In 1996, John and Mary Ann Duffey offered the use of their llamas to the women. The Lady Rangers, Elaine and Jan, along with new recruit Pat Wessel, led the llamas throughout the Zirkel, Sarvis and Flat Top Wilderness trails picking up trash, educating the public and leading overnight trips. Within the next two years, Win retired and joined the Lady Ranger, and Jan and Pat's husbands, Wade Hatcher and Bobby Mayfield, began patrolling on horseback.

Seeing the impact from cuts in the Forest Service's budget and staff, Elaine worked with Wilderness Manager Jon Halverson to officially established the volunteer support organization Friends of Wilderness. A Memorandum of Understanding with the Routt National Forest outlining FOW's scope of work and areas of service was signed in January 2001.

Following Elaine, Suzanne Munn became the FOW Volunteer Coordinator in the fall of 2005. Suzanne, along with her husband John and the assistance of attorneys, took FOW to its next level by establishing bylaws, registering the organization with the State of Colorado and obtaining 501(c)3 non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service.

Over the last ten years, FOW has seen a dramatic increase in its number of volunteers and hours contributed educating the public, removing trash, restoring environmental damage and clearing trails. As of 2020, FOW had over 160 volunteers.

For a more complete history and pictures of FOW's development, please see the history tab on our webpage

Organization Data


Organization name

Friends of Wilderness

other names


Year Established


Tax id (EIN)




Organization Size

Small Organization


P.O. Box 771318
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

Service areas

Routt County, CO, US