The purpose of the FAQ is to answer common questions arising from individuals and volunteer organizations regarding opportunities to assist with the Waldo Canyon Fire recovery efforts.
I/we would like to help those impacted by the Waldo Canyon Fire. Who needs help?
US Forest Service, El Paso County, City of Colorado Springs, and numerous private lands were impacted and now face varying needs of rehabilitation and revegetation.
I/we know someone who may need help. Can landowners submit aid requests for project consideration by volunteer coordinators?
Aid requests should be submitted at www.waldofire.org/aid
How many US Forest projects are available?
The US Forest Service has limited projects at this time, and they are working with the nonprofits listed below who will actually coordinate the projects on the Pike National Forest. The reason that projects will be limited this year is that they have completed initial mulching and seeding to burn areas and are avoiding those areas to allow the vegetation to grow. Any large projects in these areas could damage the work already completed. However, The US Forest Service estimates that they will have projects for the next 10-plus years, so there will be more opportunities as time goes on.
Although the number of “boots-on-the-ground” projects on the national forest lands within the burn must be limited for the short term, there are some additional Waldo restoration opportunities on private lands and Open Space lands.
How do I find volunteer opportunities?
Several organizations are working together to coordinate Waldo projects. The www.waldofire.org website has more information specifically on upcoming Waldo needs from these groups, but they also have other volunteer opportunities available in our region this summer, including on the Pike National Forest (such as projects in the Hayman, or in the Bear Creek drainage on the side of Pike’s Peak) so each groups individual contact is included below. Please consider donating time, equipment, or funds to support Waldo rehab efforts, and other projects these groups are doing to help protect and restore the natural resources of our region.
Trails and Open Space Coalition: http://www.trailsandopenspaces.org/
Coalition for the Upper South Platte: http://www.uppersouthplatte.org/Volunteer/
Rocky Mountain Field Institute: www.rmfi.org/
City Parks and Open Space: http://openspacevolunteers.org
El Paso County: http://adm.elpasoco.com/Parks/Pages/VolunteerOpportunities.aspx
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado: http://www.voc.org
What type of work is available?
Projects available include helping with chipping trees to provide mulch, re-vegetation, contour raking, reshaping, re-seeding and mulch distribution, erosion control, hillside mitigation, limited tree planting, sandbagging to help protect property owners from flooding, and more! All projects require registration; please register with the appropriate organization using the links included on each event page. Please pay close attention to any listing of physical difficulty, as volunteer work can be strenuous.
I want to plant trees! Why isn’t tree planting a priority right now?
The first year or so after the fire, most of the effort is aimed at slowing down runoff and stabilizing hillslopes. The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service nurseries need time to grow appropriate seed stock, which come from seeds that were harvested in the very nearby area. Seed is sourced from within about a 30-mile radius of a burn, and from within an elevation band not greater than 500 feet above or below the elevation where the new trees will be planted. This is to assure that we are planting the best-acclimated trees for the soils and climate. Right now we are re-vegetating with grass seed (both native perennial seeds and annual seeds such as oats, which act as a nurse crop for the perennials) and stabilizing the soils with contour-fell logs, and other structures.
Can I just show up somewhere?
No, it’s important that you register first with one of the organizations managing the volunteer workdays so that we can send you important information about that project, where and when to show up, what to bring, and be able to communicate with you if weather or an unexpected event changes the project. We also need to know how many people are coming each time so that we can prepare with enough tools and trained leaders, who are responsible for safety and the work of their volunteer crews.
Do I need specific training or skills to help?
No experience is necessary; we’ll teach you what you need to know about the work!
Are there any restrictions for volunteers?
Please pay close attention to any listing of physical difficulty, as volunteer work can be strenuous. Also, please keep in mind:
- In hazardous areas we must strictly adhere to the posted minimum age restrictions, which will vary according to site and work.
- Pregnant women should not attend projects in recently burned areas.
- Sorry, but pets are not allowed.
- Please do not bring your own tools unless requested.
- Please do not bring unregistered guests.
What should I expect when I volunteer?
Most burn-area projects are in an exposed mountain environment. Please be aware and prepared for potential hazards, including but not limited to: driving on mountainous roads with loose gravel and high flash flood potential; exposure to sun, wind, lightening and rapidly changing weather conditions; working with sharpened tools in areas with unstable terrain and footing; possible falling trees; and hiking at significant elevation.
Medications may have adverse effects in sun, heat or altitude; if volunteering, please list medications and medical conditions on the requested liability release forms so staff may be aware of potential concerns. Know your limitations and inform staff immediately if you become ill or injured.
Be prepared to exit quickly in the event of an emergency or changing environmental conditions. Please drink plenty of water prior to and during the project to avoid dehydration, and use sunscreen to protect from burns. Clothing may become stained or ruined, so please dress accordingly.
What should I bring with me?
- Any applicable medicines (including EpiPens, insulin and inhalers)
- Sun glasses or safety glasses
- Work gloves
- Work boots with ankle support
- Long pants are required
- Long sleeved shirts are strongly recommended
- Water containers – the use of reusable containers is encouraged & refills will be provided
- A sack lunch
Who should I/we contact to discuss our questions about [fill in the blank]?
Please submit your questions at www.waldofire.org.
Although the fire is out, many challenges continue to face our community in the post-fire environment. Flooding poses a significant risk to infrastructure and many of our neighbors. Whether it’s hauling debris from a creek or moving slash, your efforts may help prevent the next tragedy. Now that you’re here, please do not leave empty-handed, or clean-handed as the case may be – sign up to volunteer today! Thank you for your willingness to help!