Yankee Boy Basin displays its colors, Fall 2012
By Sheridan Block
The Yankee Boy Conservation Association will be working hard this summer to encourage locals and visitors to “tread lightly.”
The non-profit group, founded nearly 10 years ago, exists to protect and preserve the Yankee Boy Basin area and its resources. In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Ouray Board of County Commissioners, YBCA is able to maintain the area, free of charge to the public.
Visitors driving along Camp Bird Road often come to view the natural scenery; check out the historic mining areas; drive up the rough, narrow roads on the mountainsides; and, participate in outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain climbing.
While the area is open to visitors year-round, the summer influx is sure to attract more people to the road. With active mining sites and private lands along the path, YBCA is concerned with keeping tourists safe and encouraging them to be mindful of the environment around them—or to “tread lightly."
“[YBCA’s mission] is to encourage tourists and everybody else to get along, have a good time, tread lightly, respect the area and share with other users,” said YBCA president Bob Olivier.
The summer mantra “share the valley, share the road” will be communicated to tourists through informative brochures and volunteers.
Since the association is not for profit and completely run with the help of volunteers, YBCA relies on funding from public donations and grants. The organization is looking to redesign and update its current brochures, which will be done with its own funding, though Olivier said he’s not quite sure where that money will come from. Other than the brochures, YBCA has no expenditures.
Alpine Hosts, the organization’s volunteers, are responsible for greeting visitors and educating them about the area and its resources. Over the years, however, the non-profit group has had a difficult time finding volunteers, especially during the summer months.
“We started out with a huge amount of energy. We had a lot of volunteers and it was very successful,” said Olivier. “But the energy we started out with faded as years go by… we don’t seem to be finding those people anymore.”
This summer, YBCA is looking to the USFS for help in drawing in volunteers. In 2010, the agency assisted YBCA by covering the costs to house volunteers over the summer months.
The summer is a really important time to have the Alpine Hosts in the area, Olivier said. The organization is looking to recruit volunteers in advance to prepare for the summer months. Volunteer hours and dates are flexible and can vary, though YBCA is looking for enough volunteers to cover the entire season. To volunteer, potential Alpine Hosts can reach Bob or Helen Olivier at 970-325-4116.
Ultimately, it’s Olivier’s hope that the organization will show visitors that Ouray locals care about the area.
If it wasn’t for the concern and care from the community, YBCA wouldn’t be able to do what it's doing, he said.