Bob Johnson new president of Friends of Red Rock
Area trail-buiding leader Bob Johnson is the new president of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon.
A director on the nonprofit group's board, he replaces Karlee Thompson, who had been president for the past five years.
The volunteer group, formed in 2004, coordinates with City Parks in caring for and upgrading the 790-acre, city-owned open space south of Highway 24 and west of 31st Street.
The board vote to make him president “surprised me,” Johnson said afterward, with a chuckle. “They voted me in when I wasn't there.” More seriously, he said he appreciated the honor, thanked the other members for their service - especially long-timers such as Thompson, Don Ellis and original president Shanti Toll - and said he is ready to take on the responsibility.
Johnson said one of his goals is for the Friends to “embrace other volunteer groups that have been supporting open space.” This could help “bring more power to bear on trail workdays,” he explained.
The need for volunteers has increased over the years as City Parks has had to cut back staff. When Red Rock opened in '04, it had a single park ranger. Now the city's ranger, Mike Weeks, has other parks to tend to as well.
“Poor Mike,” Johnson said. “He's overwhelmed.”
The situation could become even more challenging in the months ahead, as a result of the city having bought over the past two years the White Acres and Section 16 open spaces - totalling close to 700 acres - that border Red Rock Canyon. No friends groups have been formed at this time for those entities.
Johnson's background in conservation includes his Boy Scout leadership, featuring the Camporee last year that improved trails at Glen Eyrie, and his involvement with an informal group that takes on hand-tool repairs of trails around the region.
Johnson is aided by his wife Connie, who has taken over the Red Rock Rag, an information publication about Red Rock Canyon which Ellis had published for more than 10 years.
In a farewell column in the Rag, Thompson said she has “full confidence he [Johnson] will be a great leader and knows what RRC needs. He has a wonderful board to assist him.”
Thompson's tenure included a $50,000 fundraising campaign to help the city pay for the pavilion at Red Rock three years ago, working with Johnson to plan the Codell Trail construction project last fall and the organizing of numerous maintenance workdays.
Westside Pioneer article