It’s been about a week now since Groveland hosted the IMBA/USFS Trail Stewardship Summit and, now that the photos are coming in from Bruce Dorman and Michael Barnes, it’s time to write about it!
Where to start? Maybe we should start with our goals in the creation and organization of the Summit with an overview of how and what, exactly a ‘Trail Stewardship Summit’ is. Here goes:
The Groveland Trail Stewardship Summit was the result of a Challenge Cost Share between IMBA and the United States Forest Service. Apparently, the planning for this program has been years in the making. The ink hit paper earlier this year and, as a result, 2 US projects involving mountain bike trail development, were awarded the funds. Groveland Trail Heads was one of the two.
In our initial conversations with our IMBA Northern California Regional Director, Laurel Harkness, and with Garrett Villanueva from the United States Forest Service, the Groveland Trail Heads-along with Dusty Vaughn of the USFS Groveland Ranger District- decided not to apply the funds directly toward the building of trails. We decided instead to use the funds to host a ‘Trail Stewardship Summit’ that would focus on sustainability and collaboration as those things apply to the development of recreational trails within National Forest boundaries. The final version of the event included an IMBA Advanced Trail Building School with a classroom day devoted to Stewardship lead by Garrett Villanueva and Dusty Vaughn of the United States Forest Service, and a USFS Chainsaw Certificaton and Safety Course hosted by the Groveland Ranger District and taught by our board member, Justin Nash.
Our goals were as follows:
- To educate those involved in trail development and building in the proper procedures to conscientiously plan and develop trail systems.
- To provide an Advanced Trail Building School to those with trail building experience in order to promote standards of ecological sustainability.
- To introduce regional mountain bike clubs to Groveland so that we could share our vision for a comprehensive, regional trail system outside of the most famous national park in the country for the sole purpose of improving the lives of everyone in the communities bordering the Stanislaus National Forest.
- To build internal momentum.
- To build partnerships with the USFS, IMBA, Trail Solutions, and fellow trail building volunteers.
- To break ground on the Ferretti Non Motorized Trail System.
Were we successful?
We had an overwhelming show of support from community businesses and individuals by way of donations both for event space and raffle items that we used to raise funds for trail building equipment and future events. We would like to acknowledge our donors here before we discuss results of the event:
John Gray, County Supervisor District 4
Fork and Love at the Hotel Charlotte
Oler Chiropractic and Wellness
The Stone Family, Yosemite Region Resorts
Marc Fossum, Pine Mountain Lake Realty
Larry and Nina Jobe
Nick de Porcel
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
The space for the Stewardship Summit Dinner was the barn on the Mountain Sage property, owned by Robb and Regina Hirsch and we couldn’t have found a more fitting setting.
These community members not only show their support for our efforts by making donations, but are also demonstrating their contribution to the creation of a sustainable year-round local economy and the creation of recreation opportunities for local youth and families, trail users, and visitors. Without their support, we would have a difficult time supporting the needs of our club so that we can effectively realize our vision.
Now for the RESULTS:
We saw attendees and instructors from San Luis Opispo, Arcata, and other parts of Northern and Southern California; Texas; Idaho; and South Africa. The number one thing we heard from these people was how unique and special the community of Groveland is. So many of these people have expressed interest in returning to help build more trail and in visiting when the trails are built. Everyone saw the potential.
First and foremost, the education we received was paramount. We had one classroom day in which we were fortunate to learn about how to implement a collaborative approach to the planning and execution of trail systems in the National Forest from Garrett Villanueva, who has years of experience as a land manager who has facilitated the successful development of trail recreation in the Tahoe National Forest. Garrett is a gem in the Forest Service! He understands the need for the conscientious development of recreational trails as well as the need for the creation of partnerships between the Forest Service and local clubs and non-profit organizations such as our own. We came away from Garrett’s talk with the motivation and tools to strengthen our partnership with our local District so that we can work toward common goals.
The classroom portion of the IMBA Advanced Trail Building School gave us the tools we need as leaders of volunteers to begin to create trail plans that take into account standards of sustainability as set forth in IMBA’s Trail Solutions book, Trail Solutions: IMBA’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack. Trail Solution’s Jake Carsten lead the classroom portion of the Advanced Trail Building School and filled our heads with so much useful information in a way that was strangely simple and digestible. In the words of one Northern California trail builder “I learned more in the Advanced Trail Building School than I have in my 25 years of building trail”. Wow. That pretty much says it all.
Day 2 of the Advanced Trail Building School was a hands-on day in the field. Under the direction of Chris Leman, Jake Carsten, and Chris Orr, and the help of the attendees, we were able to break ground on the Ferretti Non Motorized Trail System and to complete a 900′ section of trail for beginners and kids. This will be the start of a beginner loop in our trail system which will eventually include over 20 miles of singletrack for all abilities.
We also learned how to design and flag trails on the ground while applying rules for preserving the sustainability of trail design by taking into account the mitigation of water. We worked with Chris Leman to familiarize ourselves with clinometers to that end.
We took part in a rock armoring project to provide a little fun and challenge for kiddos and beginners.
We learned about the planning and execution of an effective signing system for trails.
During the Chainsaw Certification and Safety course, participants learned how to safely clear project corridors and mitigate potential hazards in trail building areas. The participants walked away feeling confident about working safely in the forest.
We are now invigorated and excited about our next steps. We are working to secure funding for the completion of the Ferretti Non Motorized Trail System and are excited about continuing our volunteer trail construction within the community of Pine Mountain Lake.