First off, I want to reach out to all PWV members, so, starting in December, I invite PWV members to join me for a Chat with the Chair on the first Friday of each month at the USFS Visitors Center from 2-4 PM, where we can talk informally about what’s going on in PWV, how you can get involved, and what you think PWV should consider for the future. I also plan to use social media to facilitate further communication within PWV.
PWV now has over 300 active members. Our recruiting, retention, and outreach continue to be successful programs. To keep us moving forward, we plan to review the current recruitment plan, including updating the application and further development of the patrolling member training program. We have increased membership in PWV’s non-patrolling member program from one per year to six this past year. As for keeping members engaged, we will continue to acknowledge volunteers, maintain member connections, reach out to inactive members, and simplify reactivation. We will regularly update our member-only webpages on pwv.org with information and guiding documents. We will continue to develop PWV’s public outreach program, with public trail information on our website, affiliation gatherings, and our "stewardship" Sunday hikes. We will also continue to produce an information packet to share PWV’s methodology with other similar organizations.
Starting in 2017, the USFS will require all PWVs to renew their membership every 5 years by completing a recertification course to assess: our ability to hike a trail for 4 hours with a 15-lb pack, our safety on patrol, our current knowledge of basic principles of Leave No Trace, Authority of the Resource, and USFS Regulations, our familiarity with basic navigation and USFS Radio/SPOT communication skills, and our current interactions with the public on USFS trails. To assist our veteran members with their preparation for recertification and reinforce their current skills, we will provide training courses throughout the year and at Spring Training for returning members. Supplemental Training will also survey what PWVs already know and what they need to know.
We will remind patrolling members of their commitment to complete six patrols each year, to patrol as many priority trails as they can, and to complete priority activities while on patrol. We will remind non-patrolling members to complete their projects and contribute the expected 48 volunteer hours. Safety of our volunteers while on patrol is always at the top of our priorities, so we will continue to update our on-line safety equipment reservation process.
After the wildfires and floods and with the continuing beetle-kill impact in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District, our trail and weed crews have had to revise their original plans for doing their work. We will be assessing these changes and updating plans and schedules as needed. We will continue restoration of damaged trails. North Fork is nearly finished, Lion Gulch should be ready to open in late 2017, and Young Gulch in 2019.
PWV’s philosophy of an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff, depends on a strong but flexible structure to keep the organization moving forward. Our committees welcome new members and new leaders. I plan to work with the committees and ask each to provide a clear statement of purpose and to update their procedures in the Organization Handbook, so that anyone who joins or heads up a committee will know what’s going on.
I am very proud of our active Fund Development program including our corporate and individual donation programs, fundraising events and opportunities, and grant writing team. Our Endowment Fund has just reached a milestone and will soon be funding internal projects. PWV is now part of Colorado Gives. Our accounting and budget processes are sophisticated, well organized, and compliant with general accounting principles, 501(c)(3) and Colorado state rules for charity organizations.
We now have a 3-year Strategic Plan and have identified 5 high-level metrics: 1) increase volunteer patrol and non-patrol hours, 2) increase the new-member retention rate, 3) patrol trails in proportion to their priorities, 4) increase the proportion of new and veteran members who achieve the 6-patrol commitment, and 5) will conduct a survey of veteran members re the kind of trainings and quality of those trainings provided by PWV.
PWV is relevant. We remember the past, stay in the present, and look to the future. We follow our mission closely: To assist the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the United States Forest Service in managing and protecting the wilderness and backcountry areas within its jurisdiction. To achieve this, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers recruits, trains, equips and fields citizen volunteers to serve as wilderness rangers and hosts for the purpose of educating the public, and provide other appropriate support to these wild areas.
Margaret Shaklee, 2016-2017 Chair