GCWG Board Meeting Minutes 9/23/18
Location: The meeting was held at the Magill/Collins' house. Appetizers were at 5:00 with dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by the board meeting.
Board members present: Toni Wujek , Bob Saint, Dick Sprague, Monica Sandstrom, Beth Collins, Jack Reichert.
GCWG members: Rothenbach, Donna Ferber, Jim Magill, and Ann Steers.
The meeting began at 6:07 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES. The Minutes from the June Board meeting were approved unanimously upon a motion by Bob Saint, seconded by Dick Sprague.
TREASURER'S REPORTREPORT – Bob Saint – The account balance as of September 20th is $4848.78. The major outflows were: Insurance $588, internet $139.85, Members' meeting $245.35, newsletter $175, and radios $300. The total donations to the Roger Shaw Memorial Fund were $2615.55. The total expenditures from the fund were $2255 which left a surplus of $360.55. Roger's family directed the surplus money to go to the GCWG. Major inflows were: ANRA pass sales at Monarch $450 and at Junco $147. The sale of cat hole trowels brought in $165 partly due to the sales made at the Forest Service Office. It was moved by Monica, seconded by Dick and passed unanimously to place another order for 144 trowels at $2.50 a trowel.
MEMBERSHIP REPORT– Bob Saint –Currently there are 87 paid households and 146 members. The number of individual members is approximate because in some cases it is difficult to determine whether a household has multiple members.
CABIN HOSTING – The main issue discussed at the meeting was cabin hosting. President, Jack Reichert, emphasized that the mission of the Grand County Wilderness Group is: “To assist the Forest Service in the preservation, protection, improvement and public understanding of the wilderness areas in Grand County.” The GCWG does many activities in furtherance of its mission including: Weed Warrior, Smokey the Bear, Doreen Summerlin support, and kiosk work. But, the main tasks are trail work and, the biggest job (in volunteers and hours) and most important is Cabin Hosting.
The Problem: This summer we did not have enough volunteer support. Despite multiple emails and telephone calls, GCWG could not fill all the scheduled obligations to host Monarch cabin on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and some holidays and to host Junco cabin on Saturday, and some holidays. This summer at Monarch only 86% of the positions were filled and at Junco only 91% of the positions were filled. Several years ago we did not have this serious a problem.
Possible Causes - Board members and GCWG members offered the following as possible causes for the lower volunteer support to host the cabins:
- We are committed to fill more days. Monarch cabin used to be a two-day commitment. Adding the additional day at Monarch required more volunteers.
- All the volunteer days are on weekends. GCWG used to host Monarch Cabin on weekdays. Many Members may have conflicts with the weekend hosting schedule because of friends and family visiting on the weekends and/or religious activities.
- At times we felt we were inadequately supported by the FS. Because GCWG hosts only on weekends now and the FS Office is closed on Saturday and Sunday, the volunteer hosts do not have as much support from the Forest Service as they had previously. Even with increased training, for many members hosting has become stressful situation. Resulting in a reluctance to volunteer. We felt if we had a more reliable communication system with Forest Service personnel, this would relieve some stress associated with volunteering.
We do not do enforcement, but unfortunately on weekends is when enforcement is needed most. We hear complaints from visitors but there is nothing we can do except make a note of the problem and tell them we will pass it on to the FS. For some members having to listen to these complaints is frustrating. There have been problems with drone users irritating other hikers and going into wilderness areas, a proliferation of doggie poop bags left on the trail, unleashed dogs, hunting outfitters on horseback who clash with staff and hikers on the busy narrow trails around Monarch, backpackers who walk right by the cabin, who will not show their permit or say they are just doing a day hike when it is obvious that they are not. It takes a long time to hear back from FS on weekends. The problem with drone use and problems with hunting outfitter we hope will be addressed by the FS before next summer.
- The Wilderness Permit system is difficult for many volunteers to understand, especially when there are several people waiting for permits. Some find the spread sheet on backcountry areas and availability hard to read and understand and, for Sunday hosts, the notations of permits issued on Saturday are not always clear. In addition, the radio communication between Junco and Monarch is not reliable and/or clear.
- Radios. The radios don't always work or there is often too much static and a lack of clarity. In addition, Monarch hosts are so busy outside that the hosts are not always able to hear and respond to Junco's radio requests. Need a way to alert Monarch hosts when radio traffic is occurring (outside speaker?). When there was full time weekend FS support, Monarch hosts could contact the FS by phone and Junco hosts could contact the FS directly by radio.
- The hosts at Monarch can be overwhelmed with the number of visitors on the weekends, we have had several 600+ visitor days.
- Hosts are often are overwhelmed by number back country permits, the rules and regulations that need to be communicated to each applicant. In addition, some of our members keeping up with all the changes can be overwhelming. Training need to improve.
- ANRA pass reminders and sales take a lot of time. The time could be used to discuss with dog walkers the necessity to keep their dogs on a leash and pick up poop bags in order to protect the wilderness and the resource. Also, it has been stated and needs to be verified that only 20% of the funds from the sale of the ANRA passes go to local forest resources, even though 80% is authorized. Furthermore, the actual fine assessed is $5 for not buying and displaying the pass that costs $5. So why issue ANRA passes if there is no penalty for not buying one?
- Cabin hosts may not be given enough positive feedback regarding their volunteering. There isn't enough emphasis on the importance of the job and the positive satisfaction of helping visitors enjoy their National Forest and Wilderness.
Possible Solutions- Board member and GCWG members discussed possible solutions:
- Change the host days at Monarch from the weekend to the weekday, then more volunteers might be able to sign up and Cabin Hosts would have Forest Service support.
- The Forest Service change its hours to stay open on the week-ends like it used to. Weekends seem to be the busiest times for visitors to the area, forest, and Wilderness. Staying open during the weekends would help the public obtain information and it would help the GCWG volunteers obtain needed support.
- A Forest Service staff person works at Monarch on Saturday and Sunday. GCWG volunteers would still host, but a knowledgeable staff person would be there to give support and enforcement.
- Fix the radio problems. The FS needs to install more reliable solar panels at Junco and Monarch to support the radio batteries. Try to improve better clarity and less static.
- Simplify the back-country quota sheets or have FS handle the quota sheets. It may be that the back-country permits will be done online next year and that may take care of some of the problem.
- Have shorter training sessions and have Bob and Toni do short (15 min max) videos available online. One on “Wilderness Regulations and permits” and another on “cabin hosting” so members could refer to the video for a refresher.
- Talk with FS about the problems with days hosting and FS support. Have greater communication with the Forest Service by inviting them to meetings or changing our meeting place or time so FS could attend or providing the Forest Service with a synopsis from our meetings.
- Emphasize the positive work volunteers do and the enjoyment of hosting cabins. There was a discussion about recognizing the volunteer cabin hosts who put in 4 days of hosting, but an accurate download of which members performed which tasks could not be obtained. The Forest Service could recognize the importance of the job that the volunteers do, perhaps a note in our newsletter by John Morrissey.
- Move the Spring Meeting to May so any new regulations or refreshers will be more timely and closer to the dates volunteering start. However, the sign-up for cabin host dates would begin on line before this later-scheduled Spring meeting.
- Implement a buddy system for experienced hosts to team up with newer hosts.
- ANRA passes will still be sold, but not be emphasized.
- Upon motion by Toni, second by Dick, and passage by a majority vote, the date of the Spring meeting will be moved to May so that the information given at the Spring meeting will be more timely and closer to the dates that volunteers will be hosting.
- Upon motion by Monica, second by Dick, and unanimous vote, Bob and Toni will prepare training videos for hosting as discussed by the Board.
Actions to be Taken by Jack:
NOTE: Because Cabin hosting was the primary focus of this meeting's agenda, not all matters were considered, however the following topics were discussed.
- Meet with the Forest Service about the problems GCWG is having with staffing the cabin hosting positions and the various possible solutions discussed at the Board meeting and determine the position of the Forest Service on those possible solutions and other solutions that they might have.
- Work with FS to simplify Wilderness Permit quota system.
- Find out the cost to sponsor a summer intern to do wilderness work.
- Find out the current dollar value of volunteer hours. Is it still $21.36?
- Contact Ann Rosati to see if she could help make the instructional videos for Bob and Toni.
- Contact local FS office to see if Ralph Swain would be available to be our inspirational speaker at the Spring meeting.
- Ask Jon Morrissey to write short thank you letter for Fall Newsletter.
- Determine when to have board meetings to get FS attendance.
VOLUNTEER HOURS – Toni Wujek - There was a total of 1391 volunteer hours reported through June. There are still some problems with getting a complete report of hours. Also, GCWG wants to keep track of the activity although it is not required on the form from the Forest Service.
TRAIL HEAD HOSTING. It was decided to drop trail head hosting for now because volunteer resources are too thin. The trail ambassador program will not be affected.
HTA/GCWG COORDINATION – Beth Collins - This summer the coordinator was not able to do much coordinating, but in the future, plans to attend some of the HTA meetings, coordinate with the trail improvement hikes and Public Lands Day.
WILDERNESS OUTREACH. Bob Saint plans to go the Wilderness workshop this October in Gunnison.
October 20- Fall Membership meeting is Sunday, October 20th. The Board will buy chicken and members will bring dishes to pass. We will contact Andy and see if he can recap what his staff and volunteers did this past summer. Upon motion by Monica, second by Dick and a unanimous vote; members will be encouraged to provide their own table service at meetings and thus reduce the amount of trash. The notice for the Fall membership meeting will include a request for members to bring their own table service.
January 6- White Deer party
May TBD-Spring membership meeting
August 11- Summer Picnic
The next scheduled Board meeting will be January 13, 2019 at Bambi's.
Other scheduled Board meetings are: March 10, June 9, September 2. But some of these dates may have to be changed due to moving the date of the Spring Meeting to May.
Bob Saint and Gary Perkins will be off the Board next year. A nominating committee will be looking for members interested in being a Board member. The vote for new Board Members will be at the Spring meeting.
Dick Sprague is resigning from being the volunteer coordinator for the cabins. A member is needed to take on the job of host coordinator which job involves scheduling. Dick will remain the person in charge of Monarch cabin which includes checking on it and getting supplies and ANRA passes,
Motion to adjourn by Monica, seconded by Dick and passed unanimously. Meeting adjourned at 9:24 p.m.
Minutes respectfully submitted by Beth Collins, Secretary