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Hit the trail

The New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors will conduct its annual trail maintenance and construction workshop this month and encourages the public to attend.

“The workshop is a great introduction to trail work,” says Ed DiBello, chairman of the nonprofit organization.

NMVFO volunteers perform trail maintenance and construction projects on public lands all around the state and enjoy camping out and socializing too.

“For New Mexicans and those new to New Mexico, it’s a great way to become familiar with the landscape and also to meet some great people,” DiBello says.

Training includes a classroom presentation from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at REI, 1550 Mercantile NE, Albuquerque. Hands-on training follows from 8 a.m. till around midafternoon Saturday, March 17, in Albuquerque’s Sandia Foothills Open Space.

Last year, 141 NMVFO volunteers, including 80 first-timers, participated in 19 projects on local, state and federal public lands, providing 2,249 hours of labor at a savings of $44,463 to public agencies.

NMVFO projects improve the safety and use of public lands for all users through construction of new trails, maintenance of old ones, sign installation and other work. Volunteers have planted native trees at the Valle de Oro and Sevilleta national wildlife refuges and removed of old fences and other debris at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

“NMVFO works all over the state,” DiBello says.”This year, we have projects ranging from Sugarite State Park in the north to Trout Creek down south in the Gila.”

Volunteers will hear from veteran NMVFO project leaders during the classroom training about the negative impacts from hikers taking shortcuts across trail switchbacks and the positive effects from using designated trails. Participants also will watch U.S. Forest Service instructional videos about trail construction and maintenance. Instructors will answer questions and go over this year’s list of NMVFO projects around the state.

Participants can put their newfound skills to work the following weekend rerouting an existing trail within the Sandia Foothills Open Space. Volunteers are scheduled to meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Menaul Trailhead, at the eastern end of Menaul NE. Coffee, juice, fruit and snacks will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

NMVFO trail workers and Albuquerque Open Space employees will oversee the new volunteers during the event. Participants should dress for outdoor work and wear sturdy boots and work gloves, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and bring additional suitable clothing, snacks, water and personal items that may be needed.

The training is free. Participants also can join the organization for a nominal fee and participate in more projects.

NMVFO, started in 1982, is dedicated to improving outdoor recreational facilities in New Mexico and is an all-volunteer, action-oriented, non-political, nonprofit organization that promotes public involvement and education of the public in the maintenance, improvement and the upkeep of New Mexico’s public lands for recreational use.

For more information visit NMVFO’s website at nmvfo.org.

Karl Moffatt is a veteran New Mexico journalist, photographer and outdoors enthusiast. Contact him through his blog at www.outdoorsnm.com.

 

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