Volunteers can help keep The Bluff shining bright

The Bluff Park is the jewel of downtown Westcliffe, and San Isabel Land Protection Trust wants to polish it with your help.

The Land Trust hopes to create a crew of volunteers – Bluff Stewards – to help with planting and maintaining gardens and landscaping. Think Friends of the Library but with a gardening twist – and a spectacular view.

We hope to put together a group of at least 10 people, with crews of two to four rotating through the growing season so no one person bears too great a burden.

Volunteers will water, prune, plant, mulch and weed. In return for the help, San Isabel will offer onsite educational sessions, with the help of partnering organizations, on such topics as nonnative and native vegetation, watershed health, native and migratory birds, and stargazing.

We welcome ideas from the community and volunteers about how to structure the new program and what educational opportunities they’d like to see offered at The Bluff.

The program offers more than a chance to keep The Bluff Park looking great. Engaging in stewardship activities can deepen your relationship to the land and to each other – helping to build a stronger community.

San Isabel owns much of The Bluff Park, which lies at the west end of Main Street in Westcliffe. The park is protected with a conservation easement so that the community can enjoy it forever. The land trust co-manages it with the town of Westcliffe, which also owns part of the 10-acre site and will continue to help maintain The Bluff.

The park offers sweeping views of the Wet Mountain Valley, its ranching heritage and the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains. A steady stream of visitors and residents enjoy the park, the site of music festivals, night sky viewing parties and recreational use throughout the year. It also is home to Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley’s Smokey Jack Observatory.

Bluff Stewards will help keep down maintenance costs for both the Land Trust and the town and ensure The Bluff remains a welcoming, engaging site for cultural, recreational and educational activities.

In December, San Isabel received a $3,000 grant from the Colorado Garden Foundation to help create the Bluff Stewards group, as well as install perennial, deer- and drought-tolerant gardens and native landscaping and develop educational programs for local students.

The Bluff Park can be a wonderful outdoor classroom.We’re working with Custer County Schools to create programs that will use the park to connect area children to the outdoors and enhance in-school study. To start, students will be asked to help select plants and design and install a pollinator-focused garden at The Bluff.

By connecting young people to The Bluff, we hope to recruit a youth crew, Student Stewards, to help care for the park, instilling a community service and stewardship mindset. Adult volunteers will have the chance to assist with youth programming, passing on their love for gardening and the environment to younger generations, who will be the landscape’s stewards into the future.

Those interested in becoming a Bluff Steward or who have suggestions about the program can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at 719-783-3018.
Photo ©2016 Greg Smith; imediasmith.com 

Kate Spinelli

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  • “Placing a conservation easement on our family ranch insures us of what WON'T happen to the land and water when we're gone.”

    - Bill Donley, 4th Generation Rancher