Poudre Wilderness Volunteers (PWV) is a Larimer County, Colorado nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1996 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 mission, PWV recruits, trains, equips, and fields citizen volunteers to serve as wilderness rangers and hosts for the purpose of educating the public, and provides other appropriate support to these wild areas.

PWV has grown substantially and diversified since its founding and is considered to be one of the largest, most effective organizations of its kind in the nation.

The Need

  • Federal appropriations for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are no longer sufficient to cover the costs of forest management. The USFS doesn’t have enough staff to adequately patrol and monitor the Wilderness and backcountry trails in our area.
  • Backcountry use continues to rise, reflecting population growth and demographic changes along the Front Range and elsewhere in the nation. A recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (2000 – 2007) indicates that participation in outdoor recreation activities increased by 25 – 31% and that Americans’ interest in nature and nature-based recreation is changing. While activities such as hiking, backpacking, horse riding, mountain climbing, and snow skiing have recently begun to decline in popularity, viewing or photographing birds, wildlife, and flowers and trees have increased by 19 to 26%, and kayaking has increased by 63%. In 2010, the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests were visited by 6 million people, the second highest number of visits to a National Forest in the nation.
  • Many backcountry users have no idea what a designated Wilderness is or why it must be left “untrammeled" by man. A majority of them know very little about low-impact camping. If there is nobody to guide visitors in Wilderness use, some of our Wilderness areas could become so heavily impacted that additional restrictions on public use will be imposed.

Read more: Poudre Wilderness Volunteers 2014 Fact Sheet


Are you interested in becoming a member of a great organization?

Each year in January, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers (PWV) recruits new members. We have now opened the application process for those who would like to become volunteers!

The open houses are done and were a great success, but don't worry if you missed the Open Houses; it's not too late to join! Applications are still being accepted through March 6.

Read more: PWV 2015 New Member Application Process

It is fun to get out on the trails and see the beauty of a different season. Those scenic places look surprisingly unfamiliar to those who have only been there in the summer and autumn. And the public are out there, too. Of course, more visitors will be encountered near population centers, at lower elevations, and on weekends, spring break or holidays.

Greyrock  BigSouth

All trail-patrolling PWV members are eligible to winter patrol. Just be sure you are prepared for cold, for changeable weather and varied trail conditions. Ski, snow shoe or hike with good boot traction devices (such as Katoola MicroSpikes). And get an early start on completing your patrol obligations for 2015!

During the winter season PWV does not patrol Blue Lake, Montgomery Pass, and Zimmerman Lake trails. They are patrolled by Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers. Also, many USFS roads are not plowed during the winter, so there is no access to trailheads in much of the higher country.



We never know what the next year is going to bring but we always plan for it anyway. Often those plans are overtaken by events such as a fire or a flood but as an old boss of mine liked to say, “A failure to plan is a plan for failure”. So, we do have a plan for next year and part of that plan is to see what happens and what needs to be done. What we do know is that the trails will need to be patrolled, trees will need to be removed from those trails and that we still have a lot of trail restoration work to complete from the flood damage. So, the main plan is to support the Forest Service in these efforts and make sure we do our tasks well and have some fun doing them.

Read more: PWV's New Chair Looking Ahead to 2015


The 2014 year has come to an end and so has my term as PWV Board Chair. We’ve achieved many accomplishments and gained experiences along the way. In addition to our normal patrolling and trail maintenance efforts, we expended many hours and resources to restoration of some of our most popular trails affected by the 2013 flooding in the Big Thompson area. Many thanks to Mike Corbin, Mark Snyder, Fred Allen, and their committee for organizing the many work day events that occurred during the spring/summer/ fall and for the hours spent by not only PWV members, but other community organizations and public volunteers as well.

Read more: PWV's Most Recent Past Chair Looking Back at 2014

question-mark-160071 640Those of you paying attention in recent months have noticed something new about PWV this year. It's changing. You might say it's moving into the 21st century. While patrolling is still our main job, regulations have changed, the way we schedule and report patrols has changed, and where we look for and find information to do our jobs properly has changed. In short, it's not your father's PWV anymore.

To get you oriented and up to speed, here is a short Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) list. If you have further questions please contact us (use the Contact Us button at the top of the page) and we will do our best to answer your questions.


Read more: PWV FAQ: All Your Questions Answered

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