Friends of McInnis Canyons helps protect snowy, muddy trails
In case you missed this important announcement, Mayor Bruce Hill will sign a proclamation at 7 p.m. on Feb. 17 declaring it the League of Women Voters “Making Democracy Work Day.”
That’s because they do, indeed, help make democracy work ... for all of us.
The mayor’s bold stroke of the pen comes in the wake of Valentine’s Day, of course, but also on the 90th anniversary of the League, founded Feb. 14, 1920, six months prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Remember that one? Ask your wife.
The League was established for the purpose of educating women about political rights. They now educate us all, and they’re pretty active around here.
More on that in a moment, but I know all this because I took a hike with my Valentine, Glenda, and she told me so.
We chose to hike into Pollock Canyon from the Pollock Bench Trail, just to see what conditions were like. We discovered that the snow was slick and the mud was muddy.
It’s still early in the year for many hikes in the valley because of snow and mud. Nonetheless, we needed to get out, and we had a few good days of weather this past week where dirty air from recent inversions warmed up enough to blow out of here.
This trail is located in the “Front Country” of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, minutes from downtown Grand Junction. This designated trail for hikers (horseback riders are allowed most of the way) is part of a network of popular trails leading to Devil’s Canyon, Flume Creek Canyon, Pollock Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon and the Fruita Paleontological Area.
Flume, along with Pollock Loop and Pollock Canyon, all begin at the same trail head. You can also jump into Rattlesnake Canyon from this trail head if you continue past Pollock Canyon.
To reach this trail head, go west from Grand Junction on I-70 to Fruita (Exit 19). Travel south across the river for 1.3 miles on Colorado Highway 340 to Kings View Estates Subdivision, located directly across the road from Rimrock Adventures. Turn right (west) and go through the subdivision. When the pavement ends, veer to the left around the new Fruita Open Space area and follow the signs toward Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area.
The Pollock Bench trail head parking lot is 3.3 miles from the subdivision. You’ll pass the Devil’s Canyon Trail head on the way and you’ll also pass the Fruita Paleontological Area, with its excellent information displays.
The Pollock Bench Trail head is on the south (left) side of the road just before you enter the main section of Horsethief Canyon SWA. This parking area is large enough for numerous horse trailers, as this trail is accessible to both hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed.
A vault toilet is found at the trail head near an excellent information kiosk and a sign-in register. It’s important to sign in, not only for safety reasons, but to allow the Bureau of Land Management to keep tabs on use in the area.
Trails here are managed as “designated trails only.” Open trails are assigned with white arrows on brown carsonite posts. If a trail is not marked with a white arrow, the trail is closed. The BLM is closing and rehabilitating excess routes.
Recreationists are asked to stay on designated trails since cross-country hiking and horseback riding affect fragile desert soils.
The day we hiked here, the sun poked through the inversion and our dogs — on leash — lapped it up. They needed to stretch out as much as we did, and dogs are welcome here. However, pets have been a problem, and all users are asked to keep their pets in check, especially when other hikers, dogs or wildlife are around.
Since this area is so close to town, it gets plenty of use. Because of that, a group called Friends of McInnis Canyons was formed. These Friends are committed to “enhancing personal and community stewardship of natural, cultural and heritage resources on public lands encompassing the McInnis Canyons NCA.”
You can help the Friends by simply treading lightly on this fragile environment. You’re also encouraged to join the group and help provide volunteer and financial support to “enhance wildlife habitat, construct and maintain trails and to fund research studies and educational efforts.” For more information, pick up one of the maps at the trail head. All the information you need is on the back. Or, go to http://www.McInnisCanyons.org.
Now back to politics: The Mesa County League of Women Voters will sponsor a legislative coffee at 9 a.m. on Feb. 20 at Tope Elementary School, 2220 N. 7th St.
Josh Penry and Laura Bradford have confirmed they will attend. The public is encouraged to hear about proposed Legislation and to ask questions.