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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Trail building - paid or volunteers??

    So we have a little issue where we have a trail builder who feels that all trails need to be built by so called perfessionals paid to build trails. Most of the trails and a lot of places I have ridden the trails have been built by volunteers. I have done my share of work out working on my local network. I do think that there are times when being able to pay someone is helpful. I also think that getting a group of people out on the trails and showing them and having them help create what they are going to ride helps with bring a sense of biking community and pride.

    What are other peoples thoughts??
    Get out and Ride!!

  2. #2
    stoneblender
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    Stick with a mix of pro and volunteer. Both have their strengths and challenges, but generally complement each other.

    Having a fun sustainable design/build plan is most important. The pros can really help with this, unless you have well-trained volunteers with lots of time and talent. Pros can usually get a lot more done in a short period of time and you know the quality will be high. They have other at-hand resources too, like excavators, motorized wheelbarrows, and more robust insurance.

    Not knocking volunteers at all, I am still one. But the quick results this summer in places like Northfield, Blueberry Lake, and Hard'ack are pretty profound.

    John

  3. #3
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    I think you can have both, one is not mutually exclusive to the other. I can see why the pro would want it to be that way though.

  4. #4
    Masher
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    Of course a pro would say you need to hire pros - thats their lively hood!
    Actually what you need is a [volunteer or paid] leader with trail building skills and experience, so they can lead volunteers.

  5. #5
    backwoods and backwards
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    I'm sure that you don't need a pro, but I'm equally sure that you need someone who knows what they're doing.
    Moonbeam's compost-powered hybrid generates a respectable 32 fruit flies per rotting banana peel.

  6. #6
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    It depends on the type of work being done. Carving new planned trail through state land - bring the pros in. Maintenance on existing - use volunteers (with someone in charge - pro or otherwise). You don't need a pro to harvest and crush rock to fill in holes. And the volunteers tend to gain a sense of respect and pride for the work they've done on the trails.

  7. #7
    beer thief
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    I'd have a lot more time to ride if someone would just pay a pro to do the work. But who provides that funding?

    One of my favorites quotes: "How do you get any work done with all these volunteers in the way?"

  8. #8
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    So I was a little fired up when I started this thread. I have a guy who gets paid to build trials...not a pro, but someone who works on a crew. He keeps telling us that all trails should be done by a paid crew, that volunteers do not know what they are doing. I mentioned doing a trail day and if we advertise it right we could get 20-25 volunteers there. Have done it before and had some great results and also some so-so results...but I am willing to take the chance. He said that is too many volunteers and that basically we would need to pay him to clean up after.

    Well we have paid for labor before and had good and bad results. We have had volunteer days to clean up areas that were built by paid labor.

    I guess there is a place for paid and volunteer labor. Volunteer I believe will generally know the terrian better and know what people are looking for in trail design. Havign a pro come in and help tweak the design is a great help.

    But at $10,000/mile to have some one build trail is expensive and I am sure not all clubs can afford that. Yes there are grants to vover the cost, but then you need a contract to verify what you are paying for is what you are getting and I am sure not many of them would want to sing a contract.

    John I am sure that mosy trial builders have some type of isurance but it is may not be any better than what the club carries. You may also want to check and see how it covers all the other people working for them. Most of these guys are a one man show and bring in other labor to help. I am sure these guys are running as lean as possible.
    Get out and Ride!!

  9. #9
    stoneblender
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    Trying to stay positive.
    Last edited by atkinson; 10-05-2012 at 06:55 PM.

  10. #10
    IMBA south west
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    Paid is good for high level design, planning and training, and generally builds credibility with land managers. On the other hand, there is no better way to build a cool mountain bike scene than having volunteer sessions, with people putting sweat equity into their trails and proudly showing them off to visitors.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by IMBA south west View Post
    Paid is good for high level design, planning and training, and generally builds credibility with land managers. On the other hand, there is no better way to build a cool mountain bike scene than having volunteer sessions, with people putting sweat equity into their trails and proudly showing them off to visitors.
    Couldn't agree more.
    "Gone are the days we stopped to decide where we should go. We just ride." - Robert Hunter

  12. #12
    Desert Seeker
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    I couldn't disagree more with the quote implying that volunteers somehow screw up the progress on trail building. That makes no sense. In the Cambridge/Underhill area, BRMBC has some 20 miles of single track that is fantastic and sustainable. It was ALL built and continues to be maintained by volunteers. Go ride all the sweet new single track in Moab. The Major force behind those new trails? Volunteers! Sure, I'd like paid workers to build trails, but $10,000/mile? No way.

  13. #13
    More Chasmism
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    Quote Originally Posted by glesoine View Post
    I couldn't disagree more with the quote implying that volunteers somehow screw up the progress on trail building. That makes no sense. In the Cambridge/Underhill area, BRMBC has some 20 miles of single track that is fantastic and sustainable. It was ALL built and continues to be maintained by volunteers. Go ride all the sweet new single track in Moab. The Major force behind those new trails? Volunteers! Sure, I'd like paid workers to build trails, but $10,000/mile? No way.
    Side question: Are you and your wife coming back to Moab this Fall?

    hfly

  14. #14
    Desert Seeker
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    Quote Originally Posted by hfly View Post
    Side question: Are you and your wife coming back to Moab this Fall?

    hfly
    PM Sent...

  15. #15
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    More time in the woods volenteering, less time in meetings about bike clubs or on the computer.
    DVt.

  16. #16
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    I think whatever route you choose, involving a core of dedicated volunteers at every juncture is critical. There's no substitute for having people who have an intimate knowledge of the lay of the land invested in the process. When it comes time to maintain and improve on the character of the trails, the original builder is no longer going to be there (assuming a pro). Since a trail is dynamic, odds are a trail is not going to be the same one you started with, exactly, so the ones who take care of the trails and guide those changes will eventually have equal share in the outcome.

  17. #17
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    I agree with dave that getting folks out to work on trails is a very possitive experience and should be encouraged everywhere. However, these groups will complete a fraction of the work that can be done by an experienced crew of 3 or 4 ppl.
    Last edited by DaveVt; 09-15-2012 at 04:14 PM.

  18. #18
    Vaginatarian
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    volunteers only get in the way if you dont have a good leader who can plan and delegate the job. If you dont have someone who fits that description then hire out, you may need more than 1 leader , or at least someone who knows how to build a trail, and someoen who knows how to manage people. We try to get out and have it plainly marked before starting, then send a couple of people out to cut and trim where needed, then fire rakes and rogue hoes , and finally steel rakes. You may also need rock bars and shovels. conditions vary.
    the worst thing is to have a bunch of volunteers show up and have nothing ready and no one in charge

  19. #19
    beer thief
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    Quote Originally Posted by glesoine View Post
    I couldn't disagree more with the quote implying that volunteers somehow screw up the progress on trail building...
    Just to be clear, my quote was a joke i had heard years ago. In no way do I feel this is true. All of our trails have been designed and built by volunteers. Sometimes there's a learning curve, but travel enough and you figure out what works well and what doesn't.

    It would be great to have professional trail builders doing everything but it's not practical in these economic times. If anything we'd like to have a lot more volunteers.

  20. #20
    IMBA Canada
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    You need balance. If your goal is to build a destination with tons of mileage... then go with the pros... But then, when you need techy/dowhill trails... or short connectors: volunteers. Don't expect volunteers to move large rocks to climb to the top of a mountain with 20 switchbacks... you need machine work.

    WHat i got from the previous posts is that you need a supervisor no matter what. You need someone that carries the vision and makes sure that we he (or the planner before) has in mind is carried thru the build.

    I also like when pros comme to trail days and donate time to make sure their product is understood and how they can help.
    ADSVMQ :: Quebec mountain bike trail advocacy group www.ADSVMQ.org

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