Oneonta NY Build Day April 27th, advice appreciated
As part of my independent study in Advanced Trail Design & Construction, I am organizing and running a trail construction day on April 20th. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Here's what we've got so far:
-30-40 people. Mix of community members and college students
-Most will be mountain bikers; a few other trail users might show up. We might also have a few students from the outdoor education minor looking for credit for projects, community service, etc.
-So far I have 4 crew leaders who know what the end result should be and know how to dig.
-I also have another dozen or so who have done trail work with me but can't quite be counted on to work unsupervised. Hopefully I can teach at least a couple enough to lead a crew before April.
-We will be working on a technical trail (read: rocky) that will be about 1.2 miles long when completed.
-I will probably be floating around the entire project trying to streamline operations, make sure all work parties have the proper tools, quality control, etc.
-I will give a tutorial at beginning on use of various tools, basic principles, etc.
-Between club tools, Phys. Ed. department tools, and a couple people's personal tools we should have more than enough hand tools to accommodate everyone.
-The plan is to set up groups along various stretches of trail. I will go out beforehand and number sections according to the difficulty (probably 1-4) of the build in that section. That way when someone finishes their section they can go to another section of similar difficulty. That way I can count on the tough sections getting the attention they deserve and not squander the best workers doing really simple work.
What I don't know is how to split up workers. Should I try and distribute the experienced people evenly throughout the various work groups or concentrate some talent in one or two groups so I don't have to worry about them and focus my attention on fewer groups? Also, what's an ideal work time with such a big group? 2 hours? 3? Should I assemble raking parties or just have rakes distributed to the various work groups?
I've never led a work party this big, so any and all pointers would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
Last edited by sambs827; 02-28-2013 at 10:07 AM.
Reason: Change in date from 4/20 to 4/27
It's a really good post, Sam and something all project leaders face as their volunteer numbers increase. My thoughts:
Allow 3, rather than 2 hours. That way you have extra time to walk in, regroup, have a safety briefing, explain the job at hand and divide into work units
Think about paired workers - one digging and one shovelling or equiv. It allows one to rest and observe at all times. It's good to allow everyone time to look at what is happening and add input as the drain, feature, line or whatever, develops. Pairs are safer than larger groups working on a given task
Locate tool staches at intervals allowing access for a number of paired workers. Selecting tools you think are needed for a task always leads to wandering workers chasing the tool they happen to need, but were not aware of at first
Mark the trail line very precisely - preferably both the inslope and outslope borders
Don't get into digging too much yourself or you will miss what is going on
Trust no-one to think as you do
Last, but we think it is an important one for a large build day: at regular intervals (3-10 metre sections) add an IMBA descriptive of what you want there to the ribbon-pins. ie - rolling grade dip description and diagram and indicate with a sister tag at the start and finish of the "feature". Don't dismiss the obvious like width of bench and depth of grade dips
I'm sure you will get better advice from some of the mega-scale builders I read about on MTBR
Thanks for the input Ridn; I've never thought about paired workers but it does make a lot of sense.
"Trust no-one to think as you do" ---true words of wisdom.
Something that I think is important is to tell groups (the crew leader) that they can't move on to another section until you have had a chance to look over their work. Too many times I have had people think they are done when there were lots of things that needed to be cleaned up or they just plain didn't understand what was wanted (Ripnparadise's advice on not trusting everybody to think like you do). That means you have to be moving up and down the project constantly otherwise they may get tired of waiting for you to give your blessing and move on anyway. You should be moving a lot anyway to keep an eye on how things are going.
I generally leave the workstyles (like working in pairs, etc.) up to the crew leaders. They are the ones that are managing the people and whatever works for them is usually fine with me. I like the working in pairs idea myself, but everybody has their own way of doing things, and as long as you get good results with happy volunteers then it is all good, IMO.
I also write up full-blown notes on a project that contain lots of instructions; everything from where the tools are stashed, where the toilets are (if any), what to do if somebody gets an owie, and, of course, linear measurements that describe everything that needs to be constructed at each point on the trail. PM me if you would like an example.
Ripn's comments on flagging is worth thinking about. I generally run with critical edge (downhill edge flagging), day-glo pink, and in the crew-leader meeting I really impress on them that they need to follow the flagging carefully. People sometimes don't understand that a dip in the flag line is there on purpose and they try to help out by straightening out the line.
I also tell them that no flags should be moved without consulting with me first. I'm willing to listen to people's reasons for wanting to change the line, and do change it if they make a good case, but sometimes they don't understand what is going on and their little "adjustments" can really mess things up. Most people are good about that anyway, but it is good to give a reminder.
I like to get white pin flags, 4"x4", and write notes on them if there is anything special I want to tell a crew, like "build short wall, 6' long here" and stuff like that. I use blue flags for the bottoms of drains to give a hint that the flag should be a low point. I divvy up a project into work sections, usually 100-200' long, and I use surveyor stake well uphill with civil enginering notation that denotes where it is on the trail. For example, the stake at 300' from the start will be marked with "3+00". If there is a lot of low-growth that might obscure the stake I put a big red flag down by the tread below the surveyor stake as a hint to look uphill to find the stake. It is usually easiest to have work sections begin and end at the stakes, but sometimes there will be something big that will eat up a lot of time so you may need to mark things at different intervals.
As far as splitting people up go, I usually try to assign a group a section that will keep them busy all day. If you are doing technical rock work then that will likely not be very long. Then, depending on the skills required, we will ask a crew leader to take a particular section. When we do the volunteer cattle call at the beginning of the day we say "Bob is going to be working on a section that will require a switchback, which means getting lots of rocks, building a wall, moving dirt. Who wants to work with Bob?" The people who are big on rock work will jump up and the ones that just want to push dirt around will wait to see what the next crew leader has to do. The people who want to work together will usually go together and may have even worked out where they are going to work before you ask.
With 40 people it is unlikely that you will have time to put a tool in the dirt yourself. Your job is to manage the project and make sure that it gets done to your liking, especially if it is a technical trail. So plan on going back and forth, nudging people toward your vision, handing out lots of smiles and encouragement, and marveling at the cool trail hidden on that hillside that your volunteers have revealed.
I saved your post Bonked. It's a great summary - thanks. Sam, Please excuse this thread jack.
Here we are developing an alliance with the government authority managing National Parks in Qld Australia. It may be the most unlikely alliance you can get, but it is not the first time in Australia. While the blood and guts of our agreement will be in print (they are and will be signed in the next week or so, yippppeeee), the practicalities are harder to put in print. This thread deals with one of those practicalities. It may seem strange that we already have organised trailcare without an agreement, but that's the way it has been for a while.
Anyway, that's not the point I want to make. Is there a place for a thread compiling details of trailcare that go beyond the IMBA guidelines? For example, this thread topic, or how to manage a boggy area in stages, how to harden a trail in stages, construction materials, anchoring devices, fire and damp resistant materials, fundraising initiatives etc etc?
There are a couple US web sites that have some handy info. Here are a couple related to project management that I have in my bookmarks:
0967-2814P-MTDC, Volunteers in the Forest Service: A Coordinator's Desk Guide, TOC
Trail Skills College course curriculum | Pacific Crest Trail Association
For detailed info on drainage, and other common issues, I rely on other people in the area that have already dealt with similar problems. Otherwise, you can look at some books like AMC's Complete Guide to Trail Building and Maintenance or Lightly on the Land; the SCA Trail Building and Maintenance Manual.
Otherwise, you can often find interesting tidbits in the Forest Service Publications - Publications - Recreational Trails - Environment - FHWA
Can i help?
Originally Posted by sambs827
Absolutely! check your PMs
Originally Posted by dmullen1994