As the calendar turns to December, we look back and reflect upon the past year as we look forward to what will happen in the year ahead. At Sheridan Community Land Trust, we observe our favorite holiday Trailmas. It’s a celebration of all the great gifts our community made possible during the year.
So, without further ado, I invite you to read along to the beat of a familiar yuletide tune.
On the first day of Trailmas, our community gave to us….
A Ronnie on a mini ex
Ronnie Wagner, SCLT Trail Builder/Construction Supervisor, put the mini excavator EMIT donated to SCLT last year to great use this spring and summer. He was able to complete two new trails – Kicking Horse and The Link – to close a loop of nearly 10 miles on the Soldier Ridge Trail System. Once those trails were built, Ronnie took the mini ex up the mountain to begin work on new trails near Poverty Flats that will be part of Red Grade Trails.
Of course, Ronnie wouldn’t be able to build two new trails and begin a third without a little help from our friends – more than 250 of them! Even in a profoundly different year, an almost-impossible-to-fathom number of friends from our community volunteered more than 3,400 hours to help build and maintain trails, lead Discovery Sessions, share historical research and keep SCLT moving forward. For that, we say THANK YOU!
Three local families voluntarily conserving land
Once their voluntary conservation agreements are complete, these families will conserve about 675 acres of open space, wildlife habitat, and clean water in the Tongue River and Clear Creek valleys while ensuring working lands remain working. That will add to the 3,475 acres local families have already conserved across Sheridan County.
Four…hundred-plus people who enjoyed Trailfest
Fishing, painting, paddling, drawing, yoga, history tours, raffle races and more! This year’s Trailfest was a fantastically fun way for people to learn new ways to enjoy their community trails. It was a great partnership with The Dead Swede bike races, too. Mark your calendar for June 4 & 5 as Trailfest 2021 returns with free fun for everyone!
Five…hundred thousand dollars from the Wyoming Business Council
This incredible Community Enhancement Grant was approved to build “quality of life infrastructure” close to home. Backed by more than $130,000 raised locally and more than $100,000 more from the USFS and National Forest Foundation, the Red Grade Trails expansion will be built faster than anyone ever imagined!
Six sites on the Big Goose Creek Walking Tour
This fall, the Big Goose Creek Walking Tour was added to the Historic Downtown Walking Tour created by Downtown Sheridan Association. This partnership highlights historic events that have occurred in and around the confluence of Big and Little Goose Creeks. Four more sites are on our guided walking tour and will be in a video on our website in the near future. You can take the tour this holiday season – or any season – by downloading the TravelStorysGPS app for your phone, tablet, computer or other connected device.
Seven sheep in the Legend of Big Metal
This Apsáalooke story of how the Bighorns got its name is one of many stories of our region’s history that will be included on three interpretive signs that will be placed along SCLT trails this summer. You’ll be able to learn about the history of Red Grade, Plains Indians’ connections to the land and the names and locations of mountain peaks and places in the forest while enjoying the outdoors in our beautiful Bighorns backyard.
Eight…ty-three mule deer collars transmitting data
Data that will, for the first time ever, shed light on the seasonal movements of mule deer in the northern Bighorns. In partnership with Wyoming Game & Fish, the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, the University of Wyoming, The Nature Conservancy and Wyoming Migration Initiative, this study will help inform management decisions of the northern Bighorns herd. The goal is to have 130 collared this spring.
Nine safe water trail access sites in Sheridan
Those sites, along with five more outside of city limits, comprise the Tongue River Water Trail. This year, SCLT worked with Steady Stream Hydrology, EMIT and local landowners to remove “The Impaler,” and old irrigation diversion structure that was a major safety hazard for people floating Big Goose Creek. Thanks to our partners, it is far safer to enjoy the water around Sheridan.
Ten new miles coming to Red Grade Trails in 2021
That’s right! Thanks to those grants, there will be a small army of people building trail and developing three parking areas in the Bighorn National Forest this season. Among those will be contracted crews, an AmeriCorps crew that’s part of a partnership with Antelope Butte and overseeing it all will be Ronnie on a mini ex. And that’s just this coming year! Another five miles will be built in the future.
Eleven miles to get to Acme
And along the way, you can stop at several other sites that are a part of Sheridan County’s coal mining history. This spring, the award-winning Black Diamond Byway tour was updated to include new information about Acme and the community’s work to reclaim the land around the former town and its namesake power plant. You can take the Black Diamond Byway tour on the TravelStorys GPS app or watch the virtual tour on our website, also a new addition in 2020.
Twelve fun and informative Discovery Sessions
We aim to help people discover new ways they can enjoy the outdoors. In 2020, we created a series of fun activities where people could learn a new skill to use or learn something new about the outdoors around them – in some cases, both. From geology to trail running, birding to history and a lot of mountain biking in between, more than 300 people participated in the first year of Discovery Sessions. Importantly, Discovery Sessions are free. We’re looking forward to even more fun in 2021!
Of course, a holiday celebration like Trailmas wouldn’t be possible without so many kind people who care. Our community relies on opportunities to enjoy the outdoors close to home for our well-being now more than ever.
If you have enjoyed any of these opportunities, please consider a Trailmas gift to SCLT. Our helpful friends Pam and John Standish have issued a $30,000 Holiday Challenge Match. Any gift you make through January 15 will be matched dollar for dollar. Double your impact and make your gift today at https://sheridanclt.org.
Sheridan Community Land Trust works to preserve our heritage of open spaces, healthy rivers and creeks, working ranches, wildlife habitat, and vibrant history, while expanding recreation opportunities to connect people with the places they love.