2014 – The year of the Trail Building Machine

Governmental agencies recognize that stronger trail constructions and tighter trail standards are necessary for urban parks and open spaces. They have to re-look at how they are using volunteers. What is the most efficient and cost effective way to build and maintain trails?  What is the best way to use volunteer skills and capabilities?  Are the wider trails built by machines (30 inches to 48 inches) necessary and desirable?

For whatever reason,  more and more trails are going to be built by trail machines.   Volunteers will be used for the finish work after the machine is gone  (berm removal, back-slope finishing, corridor refinement, and fine rock work or water removal structures).   How machines will be used will be determined by the amount of money available for machine work.  If money is limited the machines could be use for just ripping the basic trail tread into the land and the volunteers will have a lot of work making the trail.  With more time and money the machines can do most of the finish work and volunteers will not be as necessary.

FoRRC  generally supports mechanical trail building where possible.  The tread of those trails are more consistent and stronger than ones built by hand.  A trail machine can do in one day what 25 to 50 volunteers can do. Since volunteer time and energy  are limited, it makes sense to use them to support mechanical construction and/or  for trails which are narrow or hard to reach.

We understand  that  the heavy use  by bikers, runners, hikers and nature lovers really does stress the natural habitat and creates serious erosion problems  on the trails.  So using volunteers to maintain trails and close off destructive social trails  is important.  Good trails protect Red Rock Canyon’s nature and beauty.  We applaud the City for writing and receiving a grant for approximately  $100,000 for mechanical construction/maintenance of trails and roads in Red Rock Canyon.

FoRRC also encourages the City of Colorado Springs to fund personnel to operate the two trail building machines they have, instead of always contracting that work out.  All the Open Spaces and Parks could use more mechanical trail maintenance.  The new way of thinking about Stewardship of the wildland-urban interface will save tax dollars and habitat in the long run.

Shanti Toll