Wild South needs local mountain biker volunteers
Thanks to all of you who were able to join us on the Conference Call last week and for participating with such enthusiasm. I am so pleased at how many of you are interested in this important project and delighted at the willingness to jump right in. In fact, I have been contacted by several folks since our call who are hearing about the project and are also interested in being involved. To accommodate these folks and give those of you who could not make last week’s call another chance I am scheduling another introductory conference call.
The next call is scheduled for this Thursday 5/10 at 1pm. The call-in info is the same:
Call in #: 1 (218) 862-6420
Here are the notes from our call on 5/1. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Pisgah Trail Inventory Call Notes 5/1:
- Welcome and introductions were given with at least 12 participants representing a diverse cross section of trail user groups and interests were in attendance.
- An overall introduction to the project and its objectives were given. The goal of the project is to provide objective baseline data to the Forest Service to be integrated in the development and implementation of the Trail Strategy currently being developed by a collaborative process.
- Objectives of the project include: 1) conduct systematic surveys using GPS-enabled handheld computers to assess trail conditions across the Pisgah and Grandfather Ranger Districts; 2) work with a diverse groups of partners; 3) work with the Forest Service and the Trails Strategy collaborative to focus on priority trails.
- This survey is in its second year and will focus on Pisgah District because of the abundance of trails found there and on the Grandfather District because all volunteer hours spent there will contribute to federal matching funds for restoration activities.
- It was stressed that all of the data being collected is objective and focuses on trail features and conditions such as: entrenched tread, steep grades, water damage, etc. No data is being collected on trail use or being influenced by opinions of data collectors.
- We discussed that volunteers will be trained on how to use the GPS equipment and will go through a mandatory safety training provided by the Forest Service. All volunteers will need to sign a volunteer agreement for this project to have their hours counted and to help track progress. At least two training sessions will be provided.
- Wild South will provide daypacks, water bottles, first aid kits, and some provisions to support volunteers in the field.
- We discussed that not all volunteers will need to be proficient in the use of the GPS computer as long as at least one or two “crew leaders” will be present to operate the unit. Furthermore, we acknowledged that groups are more than welcome to participate in trail surveys and at least two trained people must be on each survey.
- It was discussed that some trail groups may be able to integrate these surveys into their scheduled events such as hikes and work days. This was encouraged recognizing that for groups who wish to move quickly on hikes, for example, may need to be ready to slow their pace.
- We discusses that the pace of the inventory varies greatly between trails and usually depends on how many features need to be recorded. In other words, trails in a “poor” condition will likely take much longer than well maintained trails.
- We discussed scheduling and that because there will only be one unit available for each district that communications and scheduling outings ahead of time will be key. Wild South will take responsibility for coordinating this schedule and will likely develop a shared calendar that volunteers can access through the Wild South website.
- Finally we discussed next steps: 1) Wild South will schedule the training sessions with the Forest Service 2) volunteers will be sent notes from the call, 3) volunteers will recieve notice within the next two weeks about when trainings are scheduled.
My name is Ben Prater and I am the Associate Director of Wild South based in Asheville, NC. Wild South is a conservation organization dedicated to inspiring people to appreciate, protect, and enjoy the wild character and the natural legacy of the South. We have been involved in active stewardship of National Forests across the Southeast for over a decade.
With the generous support of the National Forest Foundation we are pleased to announce that we will continue working with the National Forests in North Carolina to inventory system trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The purpose of this inventory is to gather baseline data on the condition of trails in our National Forests for development of a Trails Strategy. This “strategy” will be the foundation for an ongoing collaborative effort to maintain a sustainable trail system that satisfies users while protecting the integrity of forest resources.
As someone who is interested in recreation and trails on our National Forests we wanted to reach out to you in our effort to recruit volunteers for this one of a kind project. We need volunteers who can committ to hiking and recording data on trails across the Pisgah National Forest. Because this project will involve training we need to have folks who can help for an extended period of time and we’d like to begin right away.
All volunteers will be paired up, trained by the Forest Service, and provided equipment including: advanced handheld GPS computers, clinometers, first aid kits, daypacks, maps, and other necessary items. All you will need you to provide are your hiking boots, a fresh pair of legs, your time and enthusiam.
This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the future of recreation on our National Forests and the beloved Pisgah. Please contact me at 828.258.2667 ext. 2, or reply to this message today to get involved. If you have questions please do not hesitate to call and if you know of other people who would be interested in this project please help spread the word.
Once folks have expressed an interest I will set up a time and date for a conference call to discuss the project in more detail.
We look forward to working with you.
For the forests,