Notes from 1/16/04 WODC/USFS Meeting
1-4 PM @ Peter & Judy’s Office
The annual USFS-WODC Trails meeting was attended by Terry Miller, Dean Yoshina, Jana Johnson, Jeff Boudreau, Peter Smart, Pierce Beij, David White, Chris Conrod, Dick Daniels, and Judy Reardon. While these notes are not a complete record of that meeting, they strive to capture some of the key comments and plans that were discussed.
(1) 2003 Wrap-Up
a) 2003 Wrap-Up: WODC volunteers and trail crew performed 1829 hours of work in 2003, down from 3383 hours in 2002. The reduction was due to the crew spending part of the season working with the USFS, as well as less time available by many traditional WODC volunteers.
(2) Trailhead Activities
a) The new kiosk panels are targeted to be installed in April. Peter subsequently accepted the FS invitation to install the panels, which will be coordinated with the installation of the new literature holder and related items.
b) There was agreement in principle to move the old kiosk to the Whiteface Intervale trailhead. Dean asked if the WODC would be willing to undertake the move. Trails Committee will discuss the possibility of undertaking the project in the early spring. (Landowner George Bates has subsequently supported the idea of moving the kiosk to his property.)
c) The FS is researching options for repair of the Ferncroft parking lot access road, rather than the more comprehensive reconstruction that was previously proposed by the FS. There was general agreement that removal of the protruding rocks and basic resurfacing would accomplish the most important objectives with minimal cost and impact. (The rocks are currently a hazard for plowing and low-clearance vehicles.) The FS and trails committee will work towards the removal of the rocks in the early spring, and the FS will pursue a local contractor for surfacing.
d) There was a brief discussion of the frequent parking lot overflow on weekends. The overflow seems to be manageable by continuing to encourage cars to park along the west side of the access road. Parking near the new kiosk will also be monitored, and perhaps a crude log bench installed to discourage cars from blocking hiker access to the display. (The bench would be moveable in the winter to allow full plowing and hiker access in the snow season.)
e) Dick reported that the port-a-potty maintenance has continued without incident. The PAP has been observer to get steady use, and Dean expressed support for its placement by the WODC.
(3) Policy & Planning issues
a) FS expressed support for posting of warning sign(s) on McCrillis Path, and for WODC investigation of legal options for retaining and protecting public access. At a minimum, signs would be placed at Whiteface Intervale trailhead and WMNF boundary. There was general agreement that an alternate route (relocation) was not a viable option.
b) There was a general discussion regarding the use of paint blazes on Wilderness trails. Although blazes are not strictly prohibited by Wilderness policy, there was agreement that they should be avoided if at all possible. The issue is most pointed on a few WODC trails (such as BL Cutoff) that are partly outside Wilderness, and traverse hardwood forests where the trail is hard to follow in the Fall and Winter. Ongoing hiker education is essential regarding route-finding in Wilderness, and should continue to be addressed in educational materials, maps, and guides. The WODC and FS will discuss the maintenance of Wilderness blazing on a case-by-case basis. Due to moderate use of BL Cutoff and the non-obvious treadway, Peter has suggested that we DO reblaze this trail.
c) There was a general discussion regarding the relocation of Wilderness trails in general, and Lawrence Trail in particular. FS Wilderness policy allows for relocation in cases where this offers a lower-impact alternative to an existing trail segment. Since this might be the case for portions of Lawrence Trails (notably the section crossing the overhang) the FS and WODC will arrange a day to examine the trail in the Spring.
d) The draft WODC brochures were well received. The FS will review them in detail and provide further comments and suggestions. There was specific discussion of the desirability of information regarding mound fires, since the gathering and dispersal of an inflammable base material can have significant impact.
e) There was discussion of discontinuing Gleason Trail, as suggested in the Sandwich Range Wilderness Management Plan. The trail is in extremely poor condition, and MC Trails Supervisor (Andrew Norkin) has expressed preliminary support for discontinuation. There was general agreement that this should be pursued, but with the possible retention of the lower non-Wilderness segment. (Would the WODC be interested in adopting this segment?)
f) Terry Miller reported a smooth transition following the removal of the WODC shelters in 2002. Increased patrols of the sites have not encountered any problems.
(4) 2004 Trail Plans
a) Plans for the co-op WODC-SLA trail crew were discussed. SLA will recruit a leader and SCA crew that will spend 4 weeks with SLA and 8 weeks with WODC. WODC will designate a crew coordinator to work with the leader and oversees the crew’s work. The crew will be housed at Mead Conservation Center. WODC will pay $10,244 to SLA to cover its pro-rated share of all crew expenses.
b) Options were explored for financial support of the crew by the FS. The previous solution of direct payment for the SCA costs is not available since the crew is not directly operated by the WODC. FS may be able to provide "challenge cost-share" funding for approximately $5,000, but this would require advance detail of the work to be performed, which may not be feasible with the short lead time available this year. Peter urged the FS consider the most flexible arrangement that would minimize the admin work required by WODC.
c) There was considerable discussion of specific projects that the crew might undertake, but they would certainly be reconstruction projects such as (1) Stabilize Lawrence trail (2) Complete rock steps on Wiggin trail (3) Harden and repair eroded sections of Blueberry Ledge Trail (4) replace rotted log water bars on Dicey’s Mill Trail. There was a prevailing sentiment that Lawrence Trail was overdue for work, and was a top priority for this year if at all possible. A final determination will be based on a spring inspection by the FS and WODC, with a switch to an alternate trail if there are any doubts about the specific work to be performed.
d) Since the crew will perform only a small amount of basic maintenance (for training purposes) the bulk of this work will need to be performed by adopters, with assistance on scheduled WODC work trips, such as the May Trails day and NH Trails Day.
e) The Trails Committee will also be considering several pending projects including (1) replacement of the footbridge on Brook path (pending selection of materials and discussions with the landowner) (2) placement of stepping stones at the stream crossings near Paugus Mill (wetlands permit previously obtained by the FS.) (3) Spot repair projects, such as erosion control measures below Big Rock Cave.
f) There was discussion of WODC/FS collaboration on specific trail events, such as NH Trails Day. This might include joint work projects, cooperative publicity, or the Trails Day supper. Discussions will continue as the WODC develops its 2004 trail calendar.
Prepared by Peter Smart on 1/23/04 (Revised 1/28/04 to add item 3f)
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