Where You'll Be:
The Conejos Canyon is filled with incredible cliffs, mountains, creeks, rivers, and meadows in a remote part of the Rio Grande National Forest in Southern Colorado. Much of the area is included in the South San Juan Wilderness and, as one of the least-visited Wilderness areas in the state, the Canyon offers a truly wild feel.
What You'll Do:
Join us for one of VOC's very first Citizen Science projects! This form of outdoor stewardship involves collecting data about the area's plants and animals to support the U.S. Forest Service's Wilderness management efforts. You'll work in small groups with volunteers ages 16+ to hike one of five trails in the South San Juan Wilderness each day to observe the presence of particular plants and animals, recording their data with the free iNaturalist app, and switching trails on the second day. We'll pay special attention to invasive plant species; pollinators such as bumblebees; and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep!
Please note that while data collection itself is not physically taxing, this project will require long hikes at high-altitude. All volunteers will be treated to free camping in the heart of the Conejos Canyon, meals by our volunteer Crew Chefs, and a presentation on bighorn sheep and other wildlife studies from Rio Grande National Forest wildlife biologists.
Why It Matters:
Data collection and monitoring of plant and animal species is a huge priority for the Rio Grande National Forest, especially in Wilderness areas. The data you collect will help inform real-life land management decisions: information about invasive plants in Wilderness areas will shape active Wilderness management, and observing and documenting bighorn sheep plays a critical role in determining grazing allotments for domestic to protect the native sheep populations.
- Minors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older on overnight projects. Minors under 16 must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older on single-day projects.
- Volunteers are responsible for providing their own camping equipment. VOC will provide meals, tools, and work gloves.
- Cancellation: Our partners rely on VOC volunteers to accomplish critical stewardship needs, and our projects often have wait lists. If you need to cancel, please contact Emily Schaefer at 303-715-1010 ext. 116 as soon as possible so we can free your spot for another volunteer and have a full workforce.
About Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC)
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) is the state's oldest, largest, and leading outdoor stewardship nonprofit organization. Founded in 1984 to motivate and enable people to become active stewards of Colorado's natural resources, VOC has engaged nearly 120,000 people in more than 1,000 volunteer projects for a donated labor value of $24 million. Through award-winning youth and volunteer programs, leadership training, capacity-building programs, and collaborative efforts with nonprofits and land management agencies, VOC is an invaluable resource in Colorado, especially as our outdoor stewardship needs are approaching near-crisis levels. For more information, visit www.voc.org or call 303-715-1010.