Westerners and Local Mountain Bikers Come Together to Adopt and Maintain the Trails We Share
On Nov 27 and 28, the Coconino National Forest Red Rock District (CNFRRD)) introduced a new program on maintaining our trails within the Red Rock District. (RRD) Sounds simple , yes? Well this concept of adopting a trail is happening all over the country but this group of volunteers were first in this area to pioneer this program. The US Forest Service (USFS) does not have the manpower or the funds to accomplish this on their own. So volunteers are one way to increase the much needed attention to preserve our trails and to do so under the proper guidance. Five member of the Sedona Westerners, local mountain bike enthusiast along with a few local residents selected a trail and committed to volunteer their services 4 times a year. Everyone came together to align themselves in preserving what they love and to care for the land so others can continue to enjoy access to the national forest. Andy Beeler, a long time Westerners and liaison for the USFS led the challenge for the Westerners and adopted Little Horse Trail. A total of 7 trails were adopted that day by the various attendees. USFS Wilderness Trails/River Coordinator Francisca Adrian, headed up this new initiative, with help from co-worker Justin Poehnelt.
Day one consisted of class room training in the morning, covering code of conduct as a USFS volunteer, required paper work for trail maintenance and expectations/ responsibilities of the adopters. The group was instructed on tool safety, personal safety (such as the requirement to wear hard hats) as well as injury protocol in the event of an accident. Then Adrian and Poehnelt moved onto the primary maintenance work of repairing trail tread, clearing brush and trees from the trail and how to remove water off the trail. All of these things can pose a danger to hikers, bikers and equestrians, as the trails become worn from over use. (NOTE: Tree removals are only to be done by volunteers who are properly trained and certified in the use of electric saws) The adopters were educated on trail design to insure everyone enjoys the experience safely. As Adrian stated, " The trail is like a song. As you meander through it, it has different parts, different beats, different moods. Thats what keeps it interesting. We want to make sure no one is changing the pathway to find a faster way to walk to the supermarket!" Every summer some of the less traveled wilderness trails get choked with brush. Based on the trail design parameters, that brush needs to be cleared, keeping in mind weather that particular trail was designed for mountain bikes, horse traffic, hikers or any combination of the three. That afternoon we did a practice run and turned in a trail maintenance report.
On day two, everyone met Poehnelt and Adrian bright and early at the Chuck
Wagon trailhead to apply what we had learned. With hard hats worn by all and
tools in hand, Jason led the group along the trail, stopping frequently to
point out problems, identify future work, and explain possible solutions. This
gave everyone a chance to participate and interact. Some tree roots and stumps
were removed. Some trails signed needed revision as well. It was an eye opening
experience and the group agreed they will never look at a trail in same way
as they did prior to this experience. As everyone began scheduling their first
outing on thier respective trail, each volunteer felt proud to be a part of
the first Adopt a Trail initiative in the Red Rock District of the Coconino
National Forest. "Caring for the land and serving people" is prominently
displayed on Adrian's business card and she is living this motto everyday in
the work she and her fellow Forest Service workers do. If you are interested
in volunteering and adopting a trail, please contact Francisca Adrian at 928-606-2427
The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit www.sedonawesterners.org. You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is January 10th, 2012 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.