Friday, October 28, 2016

Misguided Trail maintenance hurts the environment and our potential for fun

Over the past year some well-intentioned people have been maintaining the trail at Bull's Bridge. Unfortunately several of their efforts are actually hurting the trail and the environment surrounding it. Additionally their efforts are posing a potential risk to both fishermen and white water boaters. Take a look at these photos. They show attempts at controlling access to the river.

The intention is to reduce access points and small Pathways which add to erosion. This is good in theory. In practice however logs sticks and branches are usually thrown on the downstream side of the path. Debris like this, on the downstream side of the path, eventually finds Its way into the river. When logs and branches find their way into the river they get stuck on rocks. Water passes through them but the larger objects can not. Unfortunately sometimes the larger objects are fishermen and whitewater kayakers Rafters and canoeists. This situation poses a harmful potentially fatal Hazard to other user groups. 
Water bars make perfect sense.  Something like the photo above shows a good water bar that will also support the trail.  Immediately to the left, however, is the sad attempt at preventing side trails (debris pile).  This is a potential risk to river users and a weak attempt to control traffic in a boggy water draw.

Further attempts to Manicure the site have resulted in people cutting roots from live trees. This goes against all ethical trail maintenance practices.  It harms the surrounding trees and later on will harm the structure of the trail actually increasing erosion. Healthy root systems are one of the best ways to stabilize a hill side and prevent erosion.  Why someone would do something counter to that end...?

It also takes away from the overall experience of why most people are on the trail in the first place. This Trail which is part of the Appalachian Trail should be at least a semi wilderness experience. It's cannot be manicured for easy passage. Removing roots from live trees is poor trail maintenance, and should not be tolerated for any reason.  

The irony is that an "un-maintained" but wider and easier trail parallels this one.  Why would this trail have to become any easier to pass or why would anyone take any steps towards random manicuring of it by cutting the roots of healthy trees?

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