Volunteer Trail Work Resumes In Pisgah After Virus Shutdown
Last updated 8/31/2020 at 3:35pm
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, trail stewards were commonplace along Pisgah National Forest's vast network of trails.
Individuals and groups with Pisgah Area SORBA (a local chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association), The Pisgah Conservancy, Carolina Mountain Club and others volunteered each month to help keep trails free of deadfall and draining well, repaired bridges and other infrastructure, and generally ensured trails were free of obstructions and in working order.
U.S. Forest Service staff work hard to maintain what they can, but limited staff and budgets heavily rely on volunteers to take care of the trails we all love and enjoy.
When the pandemic shuttered parts of Pisgah National Forest to recreation in April, structured trail maintenance also became prohibited.
These restrictions on organized workdays and individual efforts - paired with several months of turbulent weather, and increased use once the trails re-opened in May - resulted in an overwhelming amount of work to be done once able.
As trails opened back up, structured maintenance continued to be prohibited – a request by the U.S. Forest Service to encourage social distancing by limiting group gatherings.
Good news arrived on June 24 with new guidance coming from the Pisgah Ranger District, allowing volunteer trail work to resume, albeit with certain restrictions.
This phase allowed group work of up to four volunteers performing tread, drainage, and brushing tasks on the District. Appropriate mitigations for COVID-19 would need to be followed in addition to the usual safety precautions for trail work.
Since that time, volunteer groups have been gearing up for, and implementing, workdays in the forest. Several small projects have occurred on Pilot Rock, Butter Gap, Cat Gap, Trace Ridge, Black Mountain, and several trails in Bent Creek Experimental Forest – all under leadership from Pisgah Area SORBA's trail crew leaders and sawyers.
No matter who is doing the work, I'm sure we can all agree that it is awesome to have trails beginning to be cleared again, and with consistently-increased use of our public lands mixed with wet and windy weather, we will need to have all the help we can.
If you're interested in helping maintain trails in Pisgah National Forest, you're encouraged to connect with any of the following nonprofits focused on stewardship: Pisgah Area SORBA, http://www.pisgahareasorba.org; The Pisgah Conservancy, http://www.pisgahconservancy.org; Carolina Mountain Club, http://www.carolinamountainclub.org.
Henderson enjoys exploring waterways and mountains by boat and bike. Most at home amongst greenery and gradient, Jack lives simply in Brevard, working remotely as a cartographer and conservation planner for several nonprofit organizations.