Common Outdoor Ground Programs

Unrestricted Grantmaking from WYCF

This story is from our Fall 2023 newsletter. See the full newsletter here!

Common Outdoor Ground (COG) is a nonprofit organization that connects public land managers with dedicated volunteers. Like you, these volunteers care about maintaining the beautiful outdoors our great state is known for. COG can connect volunteers with land managers who have a list of projects for these areas but not enough help. 

For Program & Volunteer Coordinator Ashley Quick, COG creates outdoor spaces that are accessible to everyone. “It’s important to COG that we consider what public lands and spaces mean to people,” says Ashley. “It would be a disservice to land users if COG only worked with backpackers or mountain bikers. Some of our public spaces can be 30+ miles out of town, and hiking or biking can be intimidating.” 

COG’s volunteers and partners work on projects like trail maintenance, campground cleanup, and areas within city limits like bike trails and parks. 

Because of your support, a grant to Common Outdoor Ground made this possible.  

The US Forest Service contacted Ashley to partner with COG. The two helped clean up and reopen Nash Fork Campground in Medicine Bow National Forest. The campground had been closed for several years and had become overgrown. Fences had fallen and there were more splinters than paint on the picnic tables.  

“The Forest Service does some of the more technical work, like cutting down dead trees that could fall into campsites, but otherwise the whole project was completed thanks to  volunteer labor coordinated by COG,” says Ashley. “When the volunteers and I were packing up on our final workday, a family pulled into the campground and got to be the first guests in years to enjoy the newly reopened site. It was one of my favorite projects.” 

Another project COG had a hand in was a biking skills course at the middle school. This course will be used by the Laramie Middle School Physical Education (P.E.) classes, but out of school time the space is available to the public for use.  

Jamie Simmons, P.E. Teacher at Laramie Middle School, is thrilled with the new addition in the community. “I love the bike trails, it’s for everyone and all ability levels,” says Jamie, “The minute it was ready people were using it. I see a ton of kids riding their bikes afterschool.” 

(Above) Students race on the recently finished Laramie Middle School bike path. (Below) Staff at Laramie Middle School get ready to test out the trails for students during the upcoming school year. 

Outside of the work to clean up or build new public spaces, what takes the most time is building local partnerships. “We don’t need more tools, we need people’s time,” says Ashley. “Thanks to the general operating grant from WYCF, we were able to say yes to many of our partners and give volunteers an opportunity to give back.”