Help the Forest Service Improve the Trails

Guest post by Elizabeth Morgan

It’s a beautiful fall day. The air is crisp and hues of yellow and gold line the Lower Cascade Falls Trail in Ouray. You’re overwhelmed with appreciation for nature and being in Colorado, and in an instant your meditative state on the trail is disrupted by a very large barrier in your way: a downed tree from the last storm. What do you do?

Julie Jackson with the Ouray Rangers District for the Forest Service would hope you would report it. But how? Are you going to remember to call the ranger station when you get back to town? Maybe, but unlikely. Colorado Mountain Club offered a solution – the Recreation Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) mobile app. RIMS makes it possible so the next time you are on a trail and see something, you can grab your phone and let land managers, like Julie, know with the RIMS app. It’s easy to download and get started today!

Julie Jackson with the Forest Service took some time out of her hectic schedule to chat with me about why the RIMS app is so important to the work she does. “We only have limited people we can hire due to limited funding, so the more eyes and ears we can have on the ground to let us know what is going on the better informed we are of where problems are versus not,” said Julie.

The Recreation Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) mobile application helps land managers collect important data on trails, campsites, and visitor use. As an app volunteer, whenever on the trail you can report trail maintenance needs (like a downed tree), inventory campsites, track visitor use, and so much more. The data you report is sent directly to land managers like Julie Jackson, who can prioritize hot spots and deploy crews to work on trail issues.

From preventing wildfires to leaving no trace and staying the trail, there are so many ways YOU can help nature thrive so generations to come can enjoy our trails. Add the RIMS app to your phone and list of ways you improve the trails you hike on!

“It has the ability to send us weekly or monthly emails with updates which is very nice and will help us out a lot to keep us updated,” Julie explained. “For doing so many things at so many times all at one time and just trying to keep up with that — this is big.”

The app sends land managers all the data of their location of interest in one little package that is digestible and creates priority of action for them.

It is much harder and messier for the Forest Service and other agencies to keep track of multiple phone calls of reported issues. “There are a lot of people that want to do good and help report concerns or issues on public lands and Colorado Mountain Club has provided a way for them to do so through the RIMS app,” Julie recognized. Next time you are on a trail and see something, grab your phone and let land managers, like Julie, know with the RIMS app. It’s easy to download and get started today!

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