Facilitating a Regional Trail Crew/s
We need something like the Washington Trails Association in Coal Country
@ASTC_LLC Twitter List: Trail Crew
United States Forest Service. Shared Stewardship
Help facilitate the creation of a Trail Crew or multiple Trail Crews that works on trails on Federal Public Domain Land. Many of these lands do not have a dedicated Trail Crew to improve or even maintain the trails. There is no Trail Crew run by Federal Employees, so there is indeed a market failure here. The golden age (1960s and 1970s) of lavish spending on recreation on the USFS started to come to an end as fires in the west progressively got worst after the 1990s.
However, there is new hope with the Great American Outdoors Act passed in 2020.
Please read this article called, The New Volunteer Work force for a better understanding on the importance of managing volunteers correctly.
ASTC has found that as localities continue to advertise these public domain lands as recreational opportunities for tourists there are times when the experience is diminished because the trails are in need of improvements. This will discredit the outdoor experience brand that this region needs to continue to develop.
ASTC hopes that much of the work done will be performed by volunteers who have never been to the region, thus Voluntourism.
We hope to emulate the Konnarock Trail Crew model of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, because it offers the best sustainable methods for creating and maintaining trails. Nearly all of the Appalachian Trail is found on US Forest Land in SWVA. Because of this, it is also ideal for the US Forest Service to be a major partner.
Throughout this goal, ASTC will be in touch with the Clinch Ranger District of the GW& Jeff National Forests, because this is where The President of ASTC did his summer of 2020 college internship, and has already started a positive dialogue with the federal employees present there.
The first 2-4 years of the program is predicted to be basic clearing out of downed trees, clearing out vegetation over growth, reblazing, trail signage improvements, and trail definition improvements such as digging out side hill to complete a 3 foot wide trail corridor. The work will not be very technical.
There may be a some environmental assessments needed to connect trails that have vanished over the decades. For example, in the Clinch Ranger District (VA), the Stone Mountain Trail that begins near Lake Keokee no longer connects to the eastern terminus of the trail near the town of Big Stone Gap. A new trail would need to cross the Roaring Branch Creek to do so.
There is great potential with just a little work on these trails. Again, looking at Keokee Lake. From the trail head parking lot to the state road Business 23 there are roughly 8.5 miles of hiking. This could be a full days hike for beginners, or half a day for conditioned hikers. Big Stone Gap is just a few minutes walk to the south on the Business 23. Also, a hiker could access the Powell River Railbed Trail and hike clear to Appalachia, VA.
As more tourists visit the area, we must reconnect trails to prevent the nature based tourism brand from being tarnished. Having hikers lost in the woods or bushwhacking through the woods after dark is bad for business.
Due to the largeness of our 5 state service area, perhaps creating a Trail Crew for every National Forest or National Recreational Area will be in order.
For any advice or recommendations on how to accomplish this goal, please consider completing our stakeholder form.
Another option is to join the discussion in our forum section.