WODC 2002 Trails Report
The centerpiece of our 2002 trails program has been our summer trail crew consisting of Jeff Boudreau, Emma Radomski, Levente (Lev) Szentkiralyi, and Jenny Wurtz. Like our previous Walden crews, these folks were volunteers recruited through the Student Conservation Association (SCA). But rather than devoting the entire summer to a single project (Walden Trail), this crew covered a wide range of projects, including brushing, drainage clearing, waterbar construction, and treadway restoration, with some work on virtually every WODC trail. This allowed us to catch-up on lots of basic maintenance, and even make a start on some of the major challenges that lie ahead.
Many days were spent helping adopters on high-maintenance trails, such as the extensive hobble bush that obscures the Square Ledge Trail each summer, and clearing the 600+ water bars that help to prevent erosion from rain and snowmelt. As the essential “annual maintenance” was completed, the crew began installing new erosion control measures. This began with rock steps on lower Dicey’s Mill Trail, and progressed to rock waterbar and staircase construction on the Wiggin Trail, where the crew spent their last five weeks.
During their eleven week program, the crew performed over 1800 person-hours of work on WODC trails. An additional 900 person-hours was contributed by the ten Trails Committee members that provided daily training, support, and encouragement. (This became necessary when we were unable to recruit a suitable crew leader, as originally planned.) See the Crew News page further details and photographs, plus Emma's Internship Report .
Funding for the crew came from WODC members, plus very generous support from the US Forest Service, which paid all SCA costs covering crew travel, food allowance, insurance, plus recruiting and administrative costs. As volunteers, the crew members receive no pay, but they get free housing, a weekly subsistence (food) allowance, travel reimbursement, and an educational grant of $1080 through the AmeriCorps program.
The crew was housed at the former Mead Base, now being operated by the Squam Lakes Association as the Mead Conservation Center. In addition to paying a nominal “rent” for utilities and expenses, the WODC contributed towards the capital costs of a new refrigerator and septic tank, making the Center much more habitable for the WODC and SLA crews that used it throughout the summer.
In addition to the eleven-week summer crew, the season
included a Spring trail clearing day (May), NH Trails Day (July), Sleeper
Weekend (Sept.), and a final wrap-up day (October), totaling approximately
3383 volunteer hours. (See summary table
So what’s in store for next year? Although the summer crew was a great success, it required a major commitment from the ten WODC advisors, and is not sustainable on an annual basis. Yet the need for a regular summer crew is clear: About four crew-weeks are required just to clean water bars and help with major brushing projects, and pending restoration work will entail several years of crew work.
The Trails and Executive Committees are therefore exploring a number of options that would allow the continuation of our successful SCA trail crews, while requiring less time by WODC advisors. The traditional option would be to hire an experienced crew leader, but this would still entail a significant recruiting effort, plus ongoing supervision and support throughout the summer. This is particularly challenging for a small organization like the WODC, which must operate an entire employment system for the sake of a single employee.
Another option would be to “share” a twelve week crew with another trail organization, allowing us to meet our critical maintenance needs while reducing our advisor commitment by 50% or more. Although this option wouldn’t allow any progress on major restoration projects, it would maintain the momentum of our trail program, while providing a season to explore other options for achieving the more demanding tasks.
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