“Go Help Build a Campground,” They Said…

"It'll be fun!" They said...they were riGht

Did I get dusty, covered in dirt, and caught in a rainstorm? Yes. Did I get stung by a mystery bug and end up with a huge lump on my forearm?  100%   Was it fun?  Undoubtedly.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat!

If you ever get the opportunity to help build/rebuild/beautify a campground or be part of the planning process, do it!  You’ll learn so much about campgrounds than you ever wanted to know.  Some of this will be construction knowledge like figuring out if your tent pant is level, working a compactor, directing a heavy machine operator, how to assemble a picnic table, which plants to save for revegetation/landscaping, and the most efficient ways to fling road base across a site without sacrificing your back. The other portion will probably be things that you’ll repeat to friends and family when you need a fun fact.  This may include information on the best vault toilet cleaning supplies and techniques (namely, how to ensure human waste doesn’t stick on surfaces), the cost of picnic tables, fire rings, and signs, the struggles of the hiring process, and who the most terrifying bowler at the office is.  

For this project, the Parks Ranger District had a single full-time recreation employee and a handful of seasonal workers.  By the time the road work and site grading were finished and it was time to start the hand labor, the majority of seasonal workers were gone.  So what happened?  Well, a forest-wide all-hands on deck request was made.  During the few days I was on site there were crews from Yampa, Hahn’s Peak-Bears Ears, employees from other departments, and even some extra hands from partner groups.  With everyone’s help sites got leveled, tent pads and living areas were finished (and leveled-so much leveling), and stumps and vegetation were cleared.  

Unfortunately, we did not finish the campground (we actually ran out of timbers for tent pads and living areas), so construction will resume in the spring, but hopefully we’ll see the finished product next year!  When completed the campground will have wider roads and longer spurs for RVs and trailers, and new signs, picnic tables, fire rings, tent pads, and living areas.  The vegetation and landscaping won’t yet provide a lot of privacy, but in five or ten years and this will be a very nice place to stay indeed.

Crews from Parks, Yampa, and Hahns Peak-Bear's Ears constructing a new tent pad at Pines Campground
It's not all just shovels and skid steers.
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