A program that has benefited thousands of mountain bikers around the Roaring Fork Valley over the past five years is threatening to scale back this year.
The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association has so far not been able to hire enough workers to fill its seasonal trail crew. The crew members remove vegetation that grows in the rail corridor, improve drainage and tackle maintenance problems as they arise. They are working on routes from Aspen to New Castle.
“We are not getting that many candidates this year,” said union president Mike Pritchard. He suspects it has to do with the lack of affordable housing that has made it difficult for employers across the valley to find enough workers.
Last season, the mountain bike association employed seven of its crew, the largest ever. Six worked full time. The full-timers generally worked four days of 10 hours and had three days off weekends.
This year, only one crew member has signed up and a bid has been made to a second person. Pritchard’s goal is to hire a crew of at least five. Pay ranges from $ 17 to $ 20 and there is a scholarship for health insurance.
Work begins in late April and continues into the fall, weather permitting. Pritchard said he relied heavily on students returning to the valley for the summer. It is a good source of labor provided, but they typically have to leave by the end of August.
The crew members go through training to start the season. Reliable personal cars are required for access to the trailheads. Mileage is paid. Crews typically work together on projects and RFMBA avoids solo work in the background.
The non-profit group is one of the organizations that has responded to the bell to help federal land management agencies with railroads. The work is important because the railway crew also serves as railway ambassadors.
More information about the positions is available at http://www.rfmba.org/2022-stc,