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Luc
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PostSun Jan 01, 2017 8:07 pm 
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I haven't scoured each and every thread on this topic, but after some time profiling the topic it appears that this may not be talked about much.

I'm curious on the regulations around citizens performing trail maintenance on their own.  It's obvious that some trails are out of commission by an administrative decision, including decisions not based on funding.

Last year on an ONP trip, I came across a guy who was brushing out part of the Skyline trail.  He said he used to work for the park service, but eventually realized he wanted to work solo, and did so - he had only hand tools.

When I look at the go-to volunteer organizations, I'm often left with scheduling issues, and wondering if those are my only options, or if it is acceptable to volunteer as an individual contributor on trails that hold my interest.

The issues around an "open invite" to "maintain" trails on public lands are pretty obvious, so I would assume that there would need to be some sort of officiating for an individual volunteer to benefit the wilderness and not actually cause harm.

My personal interest in this topic stems from looking for more purpose out there, rather than simply consuming, while still preferring to be on my own watch.

Thoughts?

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Token Civilian
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PostMon Jan 02, 2017 9:28 am 
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If the PCT is your thing, the PCTA has just the program for you:  Adopt a section.  You'll be fully sanctioned.

I strongly discourage rogue or guerrilla trail maintenance for several reasons.

1)  Most people don't know the right way to maintain trails.  Their errors have to be corrected.
2)  You lack coverage if you get hurt.  Sanctioned crews and volunteers, if following all the rules, are covered by work mans comp.
3)  Duplicated / wasted efforts due to lack of coordination.  Organized crews going to do what the rogues / guerrilla's did and finding it done or partially done results in wasted time.  (We had this on the PCT more than once).
4)  Related to (1) and (2), especially in the context of downed trees - a lack of knowledge on the proper way to cut trees can be deadly.

If you want to join the PCTA crew, we'll train you.

volunteer@pcta.org and ask for the North 350 Blades crew.  Or just e-mail just directly:  north350blades@pcta.org
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RodF
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PostMon Jan 02, 2017 4:20 pm 
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No problem with any agency I've worked for (NPS, USFS, DNR, state parks) doing solo trail maintenance.  They do ask you to touch base with them first (and definitely prefer you have worked with WTA, BCHW, PCTA, SCA or other group so already know what you're doing).

There are 3 things they have to cover with volunteers.  1) Realize each trail is maintained to a defined standard (for example, as a stock, foot, or way trail) which have different clearing widths and heights, grades, turn radii, etc. set in their management plans.  2) There are safety issues (emergency communication, work hazards) they're required to cover with you (so there are things you can and can't do solo).  3) Federal agencies need you to sign a volunteer form (liability, disability comp).

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Luc
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Luc
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PostTue Jan 03, 2017 12:41 am 
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(TC)

Totally agree on all.

If by rogue, you mean just heading out with some fantasy of being a trail hero, that's not at all the idea, and definitely unsafe.

Perhaps I'll contact the entities that manage the areas I'm interested in helping out with, since Rod more/less suggests that it does occur and can be a welcome contribution.

Mostly I'm interested in helping to clear what has been neglected or back burnered, minus large debris.  Getting the training on how to identify dangerous debris would be my first stop.  The second would be whatever the protocol requires, of course.

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n16ht5
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PostTue Jan 03, 2017 10:51 am 
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take a saw or pulaski and go. Document what you did when you're done, and if you get hurt it is your own fault.

I don't do as much as I used to now I have kids. I have a few trails I normally clear in the springtime, send a message to the FS ranger to let them know if I remember to. Entiat district won't let me be a "volunteer" as they don't have the resources to put me through the "legal" training, however I am an official "volunteer" for the Darrington district without any formal training (shrug.) The FS is more concerned with "enforcement and education" than maintaining our trails, anyway. And that is straight from the horses mouth.  mad.gif

It's getting harder to find motivation to clear trails when people in the WTA, etc... want to shut down multi-use trails. I ride motorcycles on a lot of trails in eastern WA in the summer,  my primary means of tool transport to work on trails. I've cleared entire trails 40+ blowdowns on my bike, which would have not at all been possible on foot, yet the WTA want's me OUT of them. rant.gif I can usually get a lot more done by myself than with a WTA crew of hardhat toting granola chompers trying to look important, anyway.

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Chico
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PostTue Jan 03, 2017 10:24 pm 
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Just remember this!

If you go out on a trail by yourself, with a chainsaw, all bets are off on your coming home without serious injury if not death.

If nothing else call a family member or friend, tell them exactly where you are going and intending to do. Tell them to call 911 if you don't call them by such and such time. Chances are it will be too late by the time help arrives.

If you are going to do this with a chainsaw, then take all the required personal protective equipment, AND someone else.

Doesn't have to be the saw that bites back. Might be the log that rears up and smacks you.

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Naches Hiker
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 12:15 am 
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I buck out logs, clean/build waterbars, and brush out trail alone 80% of the time. I learned very early to leave the bigger trees and the trees with nasty tension until I my partner comes along.


My observations are that WTA is kind of a joke. More for the city folk. PCTA is where I would spend my time if I were learning/wanted to go in a group.


I have a volunteer B bucker for crosscut and a B bucker and faller for chainsaw. I went to a workshop hosted by the trails guys to get my certs. You need to be certed up, have first aid/cpr, and have a volunteer agreement to be able to clear trails.


I'd imagine the guy who just got the job in Leavenworth will be starting up a huge volunteer program to clear trails in the future. He did good down here. 99% of the motorized trails are cleared and brushed by motorcycle and jeep clubs. The Back Country Horseman, Cascadians, and other volunteers like myself work on the wilderness trails.

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Naches Hiker
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 12:17 am 
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I haven't explored the CFR''s much, but am pretty sure building/maintaining a trail without authorization is illegal.

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Luc
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 1:25 pm 
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Just to steering this back.

Warnings are observed, but note that I'm not interested in building any trails, clearing out anything that has been strategically abandoned, not carrying a chainsaw or dealing with killer blowdowns - OR thinking I have the experience to identify them without training.

The first trail that comes to mind of interest is the western most section of the Boundary Trail in the Pasayten/NCNP.  I'm confident there are hundreds of huge trees down, but equally confident there is crazy brush and ankle biters that could be taken on - with training and management's blessing.

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RodF
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 3:22 pm 
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Naches Hiker wrote:
I haven't explored the CFR''s much, but am pretty sure building/maintaining a trail without authorization is illegal.

Maintaining existing trails and building new trails are completely separate issues.

No regulation against hikers tossing fallen limbs off the trail or limbing a pile of windfall blocking the tral so they can clamber through or over it, or against hikers brushing out an existing trail so they (and others following them) can walk through without being torn by thorns or stung by devil's club.

There are CFRs, policies and management plans binding on the agencies, of course, saying what they can approve and how they can approve it.  They must follow those, but they need all the help they can get, and they know it.

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"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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RumiDude
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 5:08 pm 
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Naches Hiker wrote:
My observations are that WTA is kind of a joke. More for the city folk. PCTA is where I would spend my time if I were learning/wanted to go in a group.

I think yer observations are kind of a joke. Lots of people work in both organizations. That's a fact!

Rumi

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drm
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PostWed Jan 04, 2017 5:14 pm 
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I used to do WTA trips, these groups had all types from occasional volunteers to hardcore people who went almost every weekend. They can be very social, which is why some people do them. And there are some hardcore trail maintainers who hate to hike, if you can imagine that. But it does have scheduling issues, either because I can't go then, or they do when the mosquitoes are horrible or something.

Now I am a volunteer steward with the Forest Service. Sometimes I do trips (day and backpacks) with a single ranger, and sometimes I do solo on my own schedule and to places I want to go. Since the wilderness rangers in my area mostly go to the most popular areas, which have the most impacts (in the Mt Adams District, the majority of all field days for wilderness rangers are on the South Climb), they like that I want to go to less popular places because they to these places once a year if that. They have an annual training in the late spring, which is optional. Mostly I remove illegal fire rings and collect trash, but what I do is limited mostly by the tools I'm willing to carry. My focus is backpacking campsites more than trails. If a volunteer steward has very little outdoor experience, they might discourage solo trips, but are fine with experienced people doing it.

Before going on a trip, I email the lead wilderness ranger with the destination and ask if there is anything specific they want me to check. In one case they emailed me a hand-drawn map of accepted campsites at that lake and said to remove fire rings at any other campsites, or report back if I couldn't remove them all, so they would put it on a list to be dealt with. I also have access to an online spreadsheet that the rangers use to report on their field trips, so I can do the same for my trips.

I'm not sure if the wilderness steward program works the same in all FS districts. But this is a good way to do trips on your own schedule and route that still fit within the overall work plan.
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treeswarper
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PostThu Jan 05, 2017 8:41 am 
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You can google Saws That Sing  for a good read on sawing stuff safely.  I watched my neighbor cut some snow bent alders and it was scary.    Read up on that because the small vine maple and alder can cause a lot of hurt and I'm thinking there will be a lot of that stuff on the lower elevation trails.  There are other publications out there on the topic and you can learn a lot by reading. 

I'm not sure on how much you can hurt yourself with loppers.  I guess you could whack your foot good with a pulaski.  Work at a comfy pace, and you should survive. 

No building new trails.  That would require a full blown NEPA process--it's the law.

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Token Civilian
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PostThu Jan 05, 2017 1:55 pm 
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For clarity, by Rogue / Guerilla I mean going out on your own, without sanction from, or coordination with, the land management agency responsible for the trail (e.g. USFS, BLM, State Parks, DNR, etc) and / or any other volunteer groups working in that area (e.g. Mountains to Sound in the I-90 corridor, WTA, PCTA on the PCT, Evergreen on the MTB trails, etc).

Talk with the Ranger District there for the Boundary Trail.  What you're describing with the brush (more or less lopper work) is about as basic as it gets.

That said, there ARE standards on how to brush out a trail.  I'll use the PCT standards for height / width, but these dimensions will vary from trail to trail.  Each land manager has their own flavor of what they want done, so follow their guidance.

So, when cutting brush / limbs on the PCT, it's a clear corridor 8' wide and 10' high (to provide for stock with panniers and riders, respectively).  Brush is to be cut as close to the ground as practical (don't leave several inch long stobs).  Avoid cutting brush "up in the air" - go back to the ground and cut it off back there, even if beyond the nominal clearing limit (this applies especially to slide alder).  Limbs are to be cut flush to the collar on the trunk of the tree.  Cut brush is to be collected up and tossed well off the trail, down hill side, out of sight of the trail if possible.  On level ground, the 8' width is to be centered on the trail.  When on a hill side, bias the clearing to the uphill side - the steeper the hill side, the greater the bias to clearing uphill - often times clearing 6 to 8 feet just on the uphill side and just enough on the down hill side so brush doesn't impinge on a hiker.  Pull tree seedlings inside the clearing corridor.  Cut small (sub 4" diameter is brushing, not felling) trees inside the clearing limits - they'll grow into trail blockers eventually.  A good rule of thumb to know if you've cleared back far enough is to stand in the center of the trail with outstretched arms - if there is any brush / branches within ~1 foot of the end of either hand, cut it.
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treeswarper
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PostFri Jan 06, 2017 6:04 am 
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n16ht5 wrote:
take a saw or pulaski and go. Document what you did when you're done, and if you get hurt it is your own fault.

I don't do as much as I used to now I have kids. I have a few trails I normally clear in the springtime, send a message to the FS ranger to let them know if I remember to. Entiat district won't let me be a "volunteer" as they don't have the resources to put me through the "legal" training, however I am an official "volunteer" for the Darrington district without any formal training (shrug.) The FS is more concerned with "enforcement and education" than maintaining our trails, anyway. And that is straight from the horses mouth.  mad.gif

It's getting harder to find motivation to clear trails when people in the WTA, etc... want to shut down multi-use trails. I ride motorcycles on a lot of trails in eastern WA in the summer,  my primary means of tool transport to work on trails. I've cleared entire trails 40+ blowdowns on my bike, which would have not at all been possible on foot, yet the WTA want's me OUT of them. rant.gif I can usually get a lot more done by myself than with a WTA crew of hardhat toting granola chompers trying to look important, anyway.


And that is how a lot of our shared trails around here are maintained.  We are not close enough (thank goodness) to cities to attract the trail maintaining parties.  Usually there are a couple and most require an overnight because they are in the Goat Rocks.  The Lewis County BCH does the most work around these parts and are made up of more local folks.  They are usually up doing the Packwood Lake trail as soon as it melts out enough.  They get the  up.gif  up.gif  here.

You might check with them.  I tried to, but I do not and will not have a horse so didn't even get a phone call.  There is no back country dog people group. smile.gif

I do like the PCTA, except I quit after they started lobbying to buy private timber land in Skamania County.  I also prefer to start working at the butt crack of dawn, which is impossible to do with a group of volunteers.  Like I have said before, that's MY problem, not theirs.

The WTA is too much into wearing different colors of hardhats.  Or having new volunteers having to wear USED hardhats.  I fear cooties.

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