CATS ‘scratch out’ trails, aid flood control

       The addiction is spreading.

Dave Dombach with trail tools.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Bob Johnson, who started the volunteer Coalition of Addicted Trail Builders Society (CATS), moved to Fort Collins about a year ago. Wanting to keep the local group going, Dave Dombach, one of Johnson's co-workers, retained the CATS acronym but changed its name to the Colorado Addicted Trail-builders Society.
       Working most of the year (even into mid-December), the informal group schedules workdays twice a month in the warmer months and also supports projects led by others. Examples this month are the city's June 1 project in Section 16 and (upcoming) in Cheyenne Mountain State Park and on the Intemann Trail in Manitou Springs.
       Dombach said 63 people are on the CATS mailing list. Their ages range from the 20s to the 70s, with members including certified crew leaders and technical advisors as well as people just getting started. New members are welcome. “We will train anyone who wants to learn trail work,” Dombach said. “I will never turn anyone away. I was inexperienced when I joined.”
       CATS' stated goal is “mending trails (and) promoting stewardship.” This involves maintaining existing trails and closing renegade (also called social) trails. These are paths walked or biked in by people in parks or open spaces - sometimes innocently, sometimes intentionally - other than those authorized by master plans.
       Much of the CATS work is at Red Rock Canyon Open Space, coordinating with the Friends of Red Rock Canyon volunteer group, for which Dombach is on the board of directors.
       Since the Waldo Canyon fire, CATS volunteers have additionally helped out with flood mitigation, including projects at Glen Eyrie, Flying W Ranch, Blodgett Open Space and Northfield (by Rampart Reservoir), according to Dombach.
       Dombach himself leads trail/erosion control work - some of it volunteer, some paid - for the Navigators organization (owners of Glen Eyrie). He doesn't mind the labor. Things can be slow for his photography business, plus “it's a way to give back to the community,” he said. “And I get to work outside all the time. A bad day outside is better than a good day in an office.”
       In his younger days, Dombach was a Boy Scout and later a Scoutmaster. He has lived in the Pikes Peak region from 1977 to 1991 and from 2005 to the present. It was during the more recent period that he started hiking and working with outdoor groups, he said.
       CATS can be contacted through Dombach at 306-4698 or coloradodombach@gmail.com.

Westside Pioneer article