People Who Damage Trails Aren't Cool
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 23:10
People Who Damage Trails Aren't Cool
The work we do at VMTA is often daunting, certainly ceaseless, but always rewarding. When summer hits and the good weather is finally upon us in glory and abundance it becomes even more challenging to address the issues of trail advocacy.
On days with end-to-end bluebird skies I just can't stay inside. So I decided to combine my yearning to hit the trails with some valuable trail work.
A few days ago, I received an email from a VMTA Director whom indicated knowledge of a delicate, non-motorized trail that had sustained damage by inappropriate motorized usage; I had to go and check this out myself with fellow VMTA Director and FVMBA Area Representative, Steven Uruski. Now to be clear, this type of trail damage used to be a huge issue pre-2004 on Vedder Mountain. Since formation of VMTA we have been able to stem the disturbing tide of most inappropriate use of trails. Pre-2004 it was not solely one user group perpetrating all of the problems. We saw both mountain bike and dirt bike and ATV traffic on foot traffic only trails, ATV traffic on many single track dirt bike and mountain bike trails and even some horse traffic on mountain bike only trails. It was clear that at that time, without designated and appropriately signed trails we were dealing with a wild-west of inappropriate trail usage with the commensurate trail and environment damage that always acompanies this. We also dealt with a lot of interpersonal conflict particularly when an appropriate recreational user would encounter an "illegal" trail user on the mountain. Unfortunately, we still occasionally need to deal with circumstances where some people just cannot seem to get with the programme.
The "Twister" Trail is a relatively short non-motorized, mountain bike only single track trail on the north side of Vedder Mountain (it is designated as Trail #316 on our map). This trail is tough to get to and so is enjoyed by only those of us hardcore enough to hike-a-bike up the boulder strewn Hobo Road to hook into the trail head just off the multi-use "Outhouse Trail". The trail is twisty (hence its name), steep and very loamy and so cannot sustain heavy or inappropriate use without significant erosion. Sometime in the last week or two, a person on a dirt bike navigated the trail bottom to top essentially roto-tilling the trail surface along its entirety. In one section where the trail rolls over a log pile, the rider was unable to get over this and instead braided a new line around the area.
From close examination of the damage it is likely that there was only one and possible two riders that did all of this damage. It has been my experience that these riders were unlikely to have been locals. Locals are often invested in the area; they care about Vedder Mountain and want to be good citizens of the recreational world. People who come here from time to time to visit may not be as invested or even as aware of the well organized management of the trails here and the agreed upon designations for usage. Regardless, the end result is heavy damage to a trail that will require rehabilitation to correct. In real terms that means individual people like you and me going in there with tools and expending our valuable time, sweat and effort to do a bunch of work that needn't have been required when we could be out enjoying trails or doing useful, needed trail work elsewhere on the mountain.
What can you do to help:
- lend a hand during designated trail days to help with the ongoing work of trail maintenance....this work ensures that you have fun, well built and well maintained trails to enjoy year-round and as grandma says "many hands make light work" (next trail day info)
- let the VMTA Board of Directors know if you are aware of inappropriate trail use occurences (contact us)
- be brave and speak to trail users you know or encounter who are not using trails appropriately....direct them to the trail-use designations as depicted on the trail sign posts that grace every trail
- talk about trail use designations in your circle of friends that represent the sport you like to participate in....by talking about these issues, those who may not be aware about the impact of inappropriate use may learn something and not become perpetrators of this.
If you feel strongly about wanting to help rectify some of the damage or to help with general trail work on this particular trail, contact VMTA Director, Kurt Vinge and offer your assistance. Kurt has invested a great deal of his personal time to this trail and would be appreciative of the help.