Put Your Money Where The Mountain Is
Charitable Giving in Leadville Today
As the holiday gift-giving season shifts into high gear, so do solicitations from non-profits as they make a final push for year-end contributions. It’s hard to miss the “Giving Tuesday” message as this global day of giving is fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. And next Tuesday, Dec. 4 will mark Colorado Gives day, highlighting non-profits a bit closer to home.
It’s good to give. But this year, it’s also refreshing to see a return to old-school accountability and responsibility when it comes to charitable giving, especially in Leadville. The fiduciary-agent, pass-thru model has run its course, along with the big-check presentation. Local donors have taken notice of how the same 20-bucks is passed around from one local non-profit to another, resulting in a smaller return on investment from the original organization and its mission statement. Folks are asking for more transparency when it comes to where the rest of the money is going.
In support of that, Leadville Today will be bringing readers seasonal-giving stories, highlighting the organizations answering the tough questions regarding how their monies are spent, how their non-profit is structured and yes, whether or not they are in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State when it comes to filing deadlines and operating in accordance with their bylaws. Unfortunately, not all Lake County non-profits meet these standards. It’s important to do your homework.
Over the next several weeks Leadville Today will be highlighting the groups that have proven their mission. These are charitable 501(c)(3)s who have demonstrated tangible, accountable results, not just t-shirts, pop-up tents, and slick logos. Please consider supporting them.
Climb Every Mountain: Cash for 14ers
Last summer’s report issued by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) regarding hiker numbers for the state’s tallest peaks confirmed what most living in Leadville Today already knew: more and more people want to summit a 14er. Unfortunately, complaints regarding trail users and maintenance issues have also increased.
And as the US Forest Service shifts more and more of its focus towards wildfire mitigation and battling blazes, it’s likely that non-profits like CFI which are going to become the true boots-on-the-ground. That’s important to Lake County, considering that among the most popular 14ers on hikers’ bag-a-summit list is Colorado’s highest and Leadville’s backyard beauty: Mt. Elbert. So it’s worth noting that in 2018, CFI completed its second year of significant trail work on the East Ridge route of Mount Elbert. The work which started in 2017 included constructing 0.77 miles of new trail, maintenance work for 2.78 miles of existing trail, as well as hauling 381 logs above timberline to be used for buck-and-rail fencing. Now that’s some heavy lifting!
“With the holiday season quickly approaching, we wanted to fill you in on the amazing work that our phenomenal volunteers and trail crew leaders completed this season,” said Brian Sargeant, CFI’s Development and Communications Coordinator.
In fact, throughout the state, CFI had another successful and record-breaking summer of trail construction, maintenance, and habitat restoration on the Fourteeners in 2018.
With a pinpoint focus on their mission statement, CFI protects and preserves the natural integrity of Colorado’s 54 14,000 foot peaks – the “Fourteeners”- through active stewardship and public education. And if the work on Mt. Elbert isn’t enough of a donation motivation, here are some of CFI’s other 2018 project successes.
- Completed the third year of new trail construction on Mount Columbia (including cutting 1,000 linear feet of tread and installing 146 stone steps).
- Performed the third and final year of intensive trail reconstruction on Quandary Peak.
- Engaged 1,012 individual volunteers who put in a total of 2,150 volunteer stewardship days (an all-time record by 10%!).
- Placed 22 infrared trail counters in the field to track 14er hiking use.
- Issued a report estimating that 334,000 hiker use days occurred on 14ers in 2017 – representing an economic impact of more than $90 million to local trailhead communities.
- Gathered foot-by-foot, GPS-based route conditions inventories on 17 routes (9 baseline and 8 secondary).
- Educated 14,342 hikers about Leave No Trace ethics and responsible recreation practices.
“Our field crews managed to complete a full, uninterrupted field season despite the heightened hazard of wildfires raging across the state,” stated Sargeant.
Another 2018 project included the new FCI “Mountain Safety” video series. This summer, CFI Executive Director Lloyd Athearn traveled around the state conducting interviews and filming footage for the series. They released the first five videos relating to 14er gear back in August. The second series of videos – covering issues such as who is most at risk of mountain sickness, tips, and timelines for acclimatization, and symptoms of altitude illness – was released in September.
Of course, not all statewide non-profits touch Lake County in such a significant manner, but for the past TWO years, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative has contributed directly to improving Leadville’s backyard. Please consider donating to them on Colorado Gives Day: Tuesday, Dec. 4. by scheduling your gift online today.