Outdoor Services Crew

Monday, March 30, 2015

Newbie Blogger

I recently joined the Outdoor Services team.  In my previous career I sat in an office for hours, preparing reports, attending meetings and working on project deadlines.  Stepping outside meant a walk from the building to my car.
Since joining the grounds team at CU I have had a chance to raise my head up and look around.  What I see is the breathtaking campus I graduated from.  It was always a great place to bring family and friends.  Sadly, I never asked “how” or “who” kept it beautiful.  Well, now I am asking.  And with this blog will continue to share the answers.

The grounds team has entrusted me to blog and when I say entrusted, I mean they have taken a leap of faith with someone who has no experience working in a grounds department to explain what they do.  I have a lot of questions.  For instance, how does a place designed for 3,000 people in the 1800s now take care of close to 30,000 people and still stay safe, inviting and beautiful?
In the short time I have been here, I already have the answer to “who.”  It’s a team of professionals, many with college degrees, who have chosen to work on landscaping, irrigation, trees and grounds care.  I even have the answer to “why.”  It’s simple, they love being outside.  They weren’t meant to sit behind a desk all day.  I get that! 

Everything they do is new to me.  As the teams shift from winter tasks into new spring activities I’ve already begun asking “what” and “how”.  Stay tuned, answers are on the way.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Record Snow for February

Coloradans have a saying--if you don't like the weather today, just wait for tomorrow.  That’s  life when you live near the Rocky Mountains.  However, when a snow storm pattern hits like it did this February, even long time residents wonder when the change will come.  It was a record breaking February for the University of Colorado with a total snow fall of 56 inches. 

 A lot of work goes into organizing snow removal on campus.  For more information about that go to http://www.cuoutdoorservices.blogspot.com/search/label/Snow%20Removal     
February’s multiple snow storms took their toll on the Outdoor Services crew responsible for campus snow removal.  They dealt with weekly storms that dropped an average of 11 inches each time they passed through.  Out of four Sundays in February, three averaged 5 inches of snow followed by additional accumulation during the week.

103 inches of snow fell on campus from November 2014 through February 2015
When the campus gets this much snow all at once, it is a challenge to find places to put it all.  Much is shoved off onto the turf and the flower bed areas to quickly make campus safe.  It typically takes two hours to make a complete first pass on a snow route.  It took longer during the February storms.  There was a lot of snow to move and the crews often found their walkways covered in snow minutes after they plowed their routes.

As the February storms blasted through campus each week there was little time for the teams to recover.  In addition to moving snow, they battled high and low temperature fluctuations.  During the day, the snow warmed and caused water run off onto sidewalks and roadways.  During the night, temperatures dropped to freezing, and caused ice buildup.

Daily Lowest Tempretures/Highest Tempretures in relation to Snow Fall
Tempretures provided by on campus Weather Station 
Combine black ice with new fallen snow and the battle to make campus safe put all teams into high gear.   They came in hours before the campus opened hitting sidewalks, outside stairs and roadways with liquid magnesium, Ice Slicer, bags of granular ice melt and sand.  

What happens when plowing, sanding and ice removal stop?  The ground crews jump into their next campus phase. 

Turf damage caused by plows pushing snow off sidewalks
While most are enjoying sunny skies and relieved that winter is over, Outdoor Services crews are beginning repairs to areas damaged by snow and ice.  They patch turf, remove sand and repair cement.  For the grounds crew, the work doesn't stop just because the snow has stopped falling.

To give you a few facts about last year's snow fall.   Storms continued through March, April and May.  In fact, 7 inches of snow fell as late as May 12, 2014.  We are hoping Spring arrives with warm weather this year.   Spring showers are  welcome, but snow should stay where it belongs--in winter months.
Snow and sand piles awaiting removal

If you see someone plowing, shoveling, repairing turf or sweeping up sand, just know they are working hard to keep the campus safe and beautiful for all to use.  We are in Boulder, it's going to snow.  Be safe out there.