NRCS sponsors Pedal the Plains bike tour
Colorado's Natural Resources Conservation Service was on hand for each leg of the Pedal the Plains, three-day, nearly 170-mile bike tour slated to become Colorado's newest major annual cycling event. Gov. John Hickenlooper fashioned the tour much like the widely popular Ride the Rockies bike race which attracts top international cyclists, except PTP took a more laid-back approach as well as its riders through Colorado's eastern plains, which also served as an introduction to a variety of rural and agricultural landscapes for many. As a result, NRCS was quite enthusiastic about the opportunity to support the event.
USDA's NRCS works with landowners, primarily farmers and ranchers, through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.
The three-day tour looped participants from Yuma to Wray, then on to Burlington, and then back to Yuma. Each leg featured a community day, which honored the cyclists and locals, hosted booths and exhibits, as well as featured local entertainment, meals and other fare prepared with locally grown ingredients. NRCS sponsored the educational signs placed throughout each leg of the tour which were aimed at connecting and educating cyclists about the area's crops, conservation practices, wildlife, natural resources, and other points of interest.
"The signs were great," stated one of the PTP cyclists. "This wasn't my first ride along these parts, but this time I learned something. I'm a teacher, and when I heard there were going to be educational signs along the route, I made sure to bring my camera so that I could take some of the messages back to my class so that my students to could learn right along with me."
There were also various educational stops along the route where riders had a chance to get off their bikes and learn about points of interest from speakers, viewing exhibits, or taking short tours at feed lots, farms, and other locations. NRCS not only sponsored the educational signs but the agency also staffed a booth at each community day sharing information about USDA's 150th anniversary as well as the importance of conserving natural resources.
"Our agricultural working landscapes benefit all Americans and numerous others around the world," says Roy Hall, NRCS area conservationist, Greeley, Colo. "NRCS is happy to support any opportunity which brings attention to the importance of those lands, so we welcomed the opportunity to become a partner of Pedal the Plains."
PTP's inaugural ride brought recognition to Colorado's agricultural landscapes as well as an infusion of welcome track to a number of the state's rural eastern plains communities. This year's event received more than 1000 registrations and organizers are already anticipating next year's schedule, and much like other sponsors, the NRCS is enthusiastically anticipating supporting the 2013 ride.
For additional information about USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Colorado, visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov.