Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    338

    Advice on response to state park about possible trail expansion

    Hey guys, I'm a fairly new mountain biker (been riding a lot for about 8 months or so) and don't have a lot of experience with the maintenance and upkeep of trails other than the obvious things like clearing debris, etc. and how to talk with the park service about their trail systems.

    I emailed my local state park that has a "nature trail" that is used by both bikers and hikers, the trail has a clear sign that says "All terrain bikes welcome". The problem is the trail sees very little use from both hikers and bikes. Within the trail system there is a 2, 3 and 5 mile loop. I realize when hikers are also using the trail it becomes a bit more touchy on how you treat things but the thing is 99% of the hikers only use the 2 mile loop. I've only seen one hiker on the 3 mile loop and none on the 5 mile and I ride these trails a lot. The trail is located right next to a dam at the state park lake where picnic areas, etc. are located so most of the hikers are adults looking to kill 30 minutes or adults with a few small kids looking to go for a short walk in the outdoors, most just walk a 1/2 mile down the fireroad and come back. These trails see little use from bikes aside from the dozen or so local bikers that ride the trails when they can't get to the Memphis, TN area where the better trails are located. I emailed the park to ask about possibly adding to the trail. I had in mind adding some tight, twisting single track that might entice more bikers to use the trail. The trails are located on a not so large area but the way they are situated now it's just like a big loop with very few turns and twists that don't make the most of the land provided. I would like to propose the addition of an extra mile or two of single track on the five mile loop that sees virtually no hikers but am unsure how to go about this proposal.

    Sorry for the long winded paragraph and run on sentences....

    Here is the email I initially sent them and then their response. I would love you opinions and input on this.

    "Hi, I'm contacting you because I'm interesting in possibly volunteering my time to help with trail maintanence and any possible additions to the Coldwater Trail System right next to the dam at Arkabutla Lake in northwest Mississippi. I live in Senatobia, MS and bike this trail on a regular basis since it is almost the only mountain biking trail in the northwest MS area without having to drive to Memphis. I was hoping you could put me in contact with the right person I need to talk to about volunteering my time to help with trail maintanence and to ask about the possibility of extending the trail length beyond it's current 5 mile path. I feel that this trail system has lots of potential but is being overlooked by the locals due to all the excellent trail systems in the Memphis area that are being regularly maintained and upgraded by local biking clubs. I hate to see this trail system not get the attention it deserves due to it not being on par with other trails in Memphis.

    Thanks so much!"


    RESPONSE....

    "Thank you for taking an interest in our trail system at Arkabutla Lake. Volunteering with the US Army Corps of Engineers at Arkabutla Lake is easy;you will need to get in contact with Supervisory Park Ranger, Kevin Kramer inorder to set up a meeting with our volunteer coordinator to get the properpaperwork in order and go over a few guidelines related to the volunteerprogram. The Coldwater River Trail System referenced in your message below is primarily a hiking/nature trail where we have allowed the use of non-motorized off-road bicycles since the late 1980's, as long as there is no conflict between hikers and bikers. Maintenance of this trail system, trash removal and clearing of downed timber, is currently handled by a contractor,however there is always the potential for additional volunteer maintenance.As far as expansion is concerned, the 5-mile trail is fairly extensive covering the vast majority of dry ground within the 1,000 acre natural area below the dam. In relation to the matter of human/wildlife coexistence, the 5-mile trail system is somewhat maximized. However, Mr. Kramer and I are willing to sit down with you to hear you suggestions for potential expansion and we might be able to offer some alternatives as well. You may contact Mr. Kramer at 662-562-6261 to arrange a meeting. Again,thank you for your interest in Arkabutla Lake "

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    373
    Wow, great first response from the land manager. Congratulations!

    You'll want to get some help because building and maintaning trails can be a lot of work. Have you looked around your area to see if there are any mtb clubs who may be able to help you with a plan to present the land managers. Lots of clubs have people who are experienced with trail building and maintenance. On a side note, I think some mtb clubs have formed because of a new opportunity to build trails.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Rep Power: Infinity
    Reputation: NateHawk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    11,569
    Looks like they might be a little concerned about trail density, so that's a topic you'll want to be educated on when you sit down with the land manager.

    Come prepared with topo maps showing the existing trail and any proposed changes/modifications you have in mind. Come up with some alternates so you can get more than just a yes/no answer. You'll probably have a better response if you have a group of folks willing to pitch in rather than just yourself.

    Try to pitch the angle of more miles of trail = more use in the park (and that means more revenue if the park charges admission, camp fees, or has other services for a fee). Also, more volunteers means they have to spend less on that contractor to maintain the facilities.

    IMBA's resources page has a lot of good info about dealing with land managers and pitching a project. Try to come across as professional as you can, because that alone can give the manager some confidence that you're going to do a good job on whatever he decides to let you do.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    338
    Thanks for the input!

    I've searched some but haven't found an answer, how exactly do you build singletrack other than just riding it and clearing debris?

    Also someone on our local clubs forum specified that this area is run by the Corp of Engineers which is federal and not state. Do you think by being federally run it will be more difficult to convince them?

  5. #5
    I need skills
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    1,000

    know your land manager and his goals.

    google the guy.
    find out the Army corp of engineer's mission/plans/goals for that area. For example if they are looking for opportunities to expand silent sports in their management area use that angle.

    Fed gov't will want to do a NEPA study before expanding trail. That took 8 months after we flagged a route in the national forest. that's a bummer to hear, but it is what it is, but be ready for it.

    Perhaps propose a stacked loop system to take full advantage of exiting trail (work the existing trail into the new trails. Know trail modern trail building lingo, study the imba web site resources page.....

    http://www.mvm.usace.army.mil/RWOnli...DP_project.htm

    http://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/Lakes/...?p=environment

    http://www.aapa-ports.org/files/PDFs..._5yearplan.pdf
    see page 19. Find a copy of the recent shimano/imba study regarding just how many mt bikers there are (we number more than golfers!) this is an great piece that can be presented to the land managers.

    If an expanded trail will draw folks to the area they may be concerned about parking too. You already know two concerns (trail density, and wild life). Look at the imba site for studies on this and read them. We find wildlife use our trails.

    What you are proposing is exciting and has great potential. Be prepared to tell them what you will do (more the better) and what you need from them , (less the better. i.e. permission to build). Also tell them what you are not proposing. Many land managers often think of bike trails as 10 foot wide paved trails. You are proposing a natural surface single track trail about a foot or so wide.

    One last bit of advice. Don't go to the meeting alone. For what ever reason they will find it easy to say "no" if you are by your self. For what ever reason I've found such people are more agreeable if I am with one or two or three other people.
    Good luck.

    Charlie

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    373
    Big question. At the risk of generalizing, building good single track isn't too terribly hard, but there are some definite design rules that need to be understood. Here's a link to some of the best trail building how-to that I know of.
    http://www.imba.com/resources/trail_building/index.html
    Read all of it, it'll be worth it.

    I wouldn't want to start talking to a land manager about building trail unless I knew how or had a posse that did. Poorly built trail can cause a lot of problems in the future for the trail system as a whole.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    IMBA Canada
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    845
    1st, i would contact your local IMBA rep by phone to have a chat with an experience trail advocate... Is there a local IMBA bike club affiliate? Is there a local trail advocacy group nearby? Try and get in touch with them... They'll offer great advise.

    2nd, get the IMBA books... Managing mountain bikes and Trail Solutions. You'll learn all the lingo and learn about proper trail design and trail building techniques. That way, you'll be able to tell the difference between poor trail design and good design... Always better to know as soon as you hit a trail what kind of trail you're riding...

    3rd, like mentionned, find another local to get implicated by the project and get a local club to partner with you on a journey. Land manager don't like dealing with individuals... cause if you go, they don't have anyone to turn to! If you represent a club, they'll just get a different contact with your user group.

    Hope this helps!

    PS: You're lucky to have such an easy land manager... and we should have more riders like you who, even after being shortly involved with the sport, want to dig in and help! Wow! Two thumbs up man! Keep it up!
    ADSVMQ :: Quebec mountain bike trail advocacy group www.ADSVMQ.org

  8. #8
    Rep Power: Infinity
    Reputation: NateHawk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    11,569
    Quote Originally Posted by Jrkimbrough
    Thanks for the input!

    I've searched some but haven't found an answer, how exactly do you build singletrack other than just riding it and clearing debris?

    Also someone on our local clubs forum specified that this area is run by the Corp of Engineers which is federal and not state. Do you think by being federally run it will be more difficult to convince them?
    The best way to learn trail building technique is to watch it being done and then follow by example. I went to a TON of maintenance workdays before I ever got to build my first mile of new trail. All that basic experience went a long way to helping me figure out where the trail should go.
    IMBA trail schools are also very helpful for pinning down the technical aspects of trail design and maintenance. They'll get you thinking about how water is going to impact the trail and help you to figure out flow, all things that take practice.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mtb777's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    383
    IMBA Trail building school in your area.... Nov. 20-23 Starkville MS Charlotte Fuquay cfuquay@hotmail.com

    That's THIS weekend....HOW COOL!!
    Do it!!
    Pull the trigger....bring some $$ and get the books. They usually have them with them. You can usually get discounts sometimes too!!

    http://www.imba.com/tcc/schedule.html

    Don't know if it's Kelly and Collin or Anna and Jason, but I've been to schools with both crews and they are great people, teachers, and riders!
    IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU'RE NOT RIDING (or building)!

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mtb777's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    383
    http://www.imba.com/resources/trail_building/index.html


    Check out these resources online. I printed all of this stuff a couple of years ago and made a notebook, clip photos and make comments on stuff you see.

    It's ALL about keeping the trail fun to ride and most important, keeping the trails dry, controlling water and erosion. Go walk you trails in the rain and watch where the water flows. You want to keep the water flowing across your trails, not down it!

    Good luck, keep you progress posted here and feel free to bounce ideas off any of us!
    IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU'RE NOT RIDING (or building)!

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    56
    You are certainly off to a great start! Congrats. I have volunteered trail maintenance with the National Park Service for almost 20 years now on our local mtn bike trails. My 0.02 worth:

    1. If there is not a local club, then you form one...get all the people you can to join. Our posters above are correct--land managers like talking to clubs moreso than individuals. Your club would be wise to be officially IMBA sanctioned because then you have more clout with their numbers/expertise.

    2. Learn all you can from IMBA...get the books mentioned....they have great illustrations...but also go to that trailbuilding school in your area. That would be huge for you...and take as many people with you if you can. Whether it is Anna/Jason or Kelly/Collins, they are wonderful teachers. You can learn how to build a bench cut trail in just a few minutes. Also, talk to whomever is responsible for bringing the IMBA trail care crew to Mississippi this weekend---they might be a big asset to you also.

    3. Mention to the land manager that not only will your group build a great, fun trail to ride that is environmentally sustainable (i.e. LOW maintenance), but you will also 'adopt' the trail and agree to maintain it and possibly also patrol it for them via an IMBA-trained mtn bike patrol. The patrols are non-enforecement----but great public relations for both mtn bikers and the land manager. Virtually every land manager is short-staffed and underfunded...if you can convince him that your trail will not cost him very much in either department, you can be well on your way.

    Good luck and keep up the great work.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    338
    Thanks for the IMBA links as well as the heads up on the trail building school. Wish I could make the class but I've got a gig Fri. and Sat. night this weekend.

    I sent the land manager who replied to my email a short email back today thanking him for his quick reply and for being willing to meet with me to see what we could possible work out. I also told him in the email what an advantage it would be to have a trail addition that is specifically targeted to the mountain biker crowd since it would result in more trail users and volunteers to help with maintaining the trail therefore minimizing future costs with the current contractor. I told him I'd be back in contact with him in a few months once I got with the local mountain bike club and got everything I needed to get together for this project to be beneficial to both of us.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    3,730
    Quote Originally Posted by Jrkimbrough
    Thanks for the IMBA links as well as the heads up on the trail building school. Wish I could make the class but I've got a gig Fri. and Sat. night this weekend.

    I sent the land manager who replied to my email a short email back today thanking him for his quick reply and for being willing to meet with me to see what we could possible work out. I also told him in the email what an advantage it would be to have a trail addition that is specifically targeted to the mountain biker crowd since it would result in more trail users and volunteers to help with maintaining the trail therefore minimizing future costs with the current contractor. I told him I'd be back in contact with him in a few months once I got with the local mountain bike club and got everything I needed to get together for this project to be beneficial to both of us.
    Sounds like your on the right track.

    Might i suggest you get in and do some volunteer work sooner than later. May as well cut your teeth, and get established as someone who's looking to invest in stewardship.

    The advice given here is extremely helpful and i totally agree with most everything everyone is saying, but i would recommend get cozy with everyone they suggest, and get some boots and work gloves and get busy working once or twice helping out, so you can see what's already established. That will get you in line in being even more qualified when asking other mountain bikers to help you out.
    .~...|\
    ...~.|.\
    ..~..|..\
    .~...|...\
    ~....|....\
    ...~.|.....\
    ....~|____\
    _____||_________
    .\....FAILBOAT..../

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    423
    As most everyone has said so far, get out there and volunteer. First, anywhere you can do trail volunteering and then at your target park. Sweat equity goes a long way with land mangers.

    Analyze the trails in your park and see if there are any poor quality sections (swampy ground, fall line trail, steep drop into and out of wash crossing). Then figure out a way to reroute the trail to correct the problem. Creating a reroute will allow you to start on a small section of trail, fix the land managers problem, get some experience organizing a trail event and show the land manager the kind of trails you are capable of. Reroutes are also good trail layout first experiences because the parameters of what and where to build are usually pretty narrow

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    798
    They probably would like to see if you will stick around for awhile before allowing you to build more trails that you might possibly abandon and leave them having to maintain your mistake. It's best if you start a club or association, which has a long lasting appeal.

    Don't forget some free stuff from the US Goverment, including a trail building DVD and books on building trails in wet areas. Personally, I would prefer to stay out of wet areas due to the problems.

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/...s/trailpub.htm
    Michael Vitti
    CLIMB President
    www.CLIMBonline.org
    www.IMBA.com
    NY State Trails Council Member

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    51
    Keep in mind as well that there are lots of grant monies available for natural surface trail building. You might, after forming a club and getting your 501(c)3, be able to secure a grant to help pay for materials or even a professional trail builder to come in and help. Lots of trail builders do hybrid projects where they work during the week and volunteers work on the weekend.

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    338
    here is an update for everyone...
    http://midsouthtrails.com/phpBB2/vie...t=2116&start=0

    Good news, called Mr. Fly this morning to setup a meeting with them this week to talk with them and sign up to volunteer. Since I initially contacted him back in November they (him and Mr. Kramer) have been looking at an area near where the sunfish bay trails are to add a mtn. biker only trail so there will be no conflict with hikers or equestrians. He says he has some maps with possible trail layouts for me to look at. I also told him some of the MSTA members had taken classes from the IMBA on trail building and design and he said he'd love to have them involved in the building/design of the trails. Mr. Fly used to mtn. bike back 10+ years ago on the coldwater river trails and he is the one who pushed for it to be open to mtn. bikers. I asked him about the Sunfish Bay trails and he said they got started many years ago by some other mtn. biking club out of memphis but only volunteered once and he never heard from them again, since then a local FFA club has taken over the trails for equestrians. When I spoke with him on the phone he seemed very excited and offered their heavy machinery for work on the trail. I also mentioned that the MSTA has some equipment for trail building. I plan on leaving several articles that may be of interest, in particular one on details about "single track". He also mentioned that eventually he'd like to setup more trails to connect the coldwater river trails with this new trail system to have an even longer trail. I setup a meeting with them this Thurs. morning and I'll report back with more details and info and see what we can do to get the ball rolling on the this project. From the way he talks they are ready to start on the trails as soon as we can get a trail layout.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •