Question on etiquette....- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Question on etiquette....

    Just curious if it is okay to do simple trail maintenance on your own on public land/parks? Not talking about adding jumps or re-routing just simple weed trimming, downed tree removal, etc.
    I would not think that getting permission from the land manager or group that is in charge of trail maintenance would be required to do this. What is your take?

  2. #2
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    Disclaimer: things are different where I live.

    My take: I wouldn't think twice about trimming weeds or small branches that are reaching towards the trail. Somebody owns that downed tree. If the tree is so small I can just drag it off the trail, I'll do it. If it needs to be cut, I want to be sure it is OK with the owner/manager.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  3. #3
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    It varies with the land manager. Some welcome spontaneous volunteer help, others get upset about it. I recommend to always ask first.

    I have heard of people being fined for clearing downed branches, dragging them off a trail. Silly, given the parks budgets, but................
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

    CCCMB trail work for trail access - SLO, CA

  4. #4
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    In the land of bureaucracy and liability be very careful. Its better to get permission.

    But common sense should also prevail. I do some form if it every single time I ride.

    But if your not doing tread work or major cutting, well, common sense should guide you. Bending back briers, tossing small downed branches made to ruin deraileurs off the trail, moving downed small logs to prevent trail creep should be ok. But do so at your own risk.

    If you are on USFS land then look both ways first. You are supposed to take a class, fill out a form, get approved by the head district ranger, work under an approved crew leader, only on certain days and times, while wearing the approved safety gear. Then you are not to be a mtb advocate, but a USFS employee and must follow a set of guidelines formulated as blanket policy for the entire USFS that tend to make the trail extremely boring and sanitized.

    But every land manager is different and most would be grateful for any help offered. Get involved with your local SORBA/IMBA chapter and have at it. Trails are going to be closing due to lack of maintenace and funding.

    Those of us who want a multitude of options for quality riding are stepping up and volunteering. You should too. The volunteers are usually good folks and I always seem to have a good time.
    Should you do more trail work?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lamb View Post
    Just curious if it is okay to do simple trail maintenance on your own on public land/parks? Not talking about adding jumps or re-routing just simple weed trimming, downed tree removal, etc.
    I would not think that getting permission from the land manager or group that is in charge of trail maintenance would be required to do this. What is your take?
    I appreciate people who pitch in with basic maintenance such as kicking sticks and dragging branches off the trail. Cutting weeds is great too. Downed tree removal is OK with hand tools, but the park manager can't allow casual use of a chain saw.

    My involvement isn't required for someone to pitch in, but it's really helpful when people take the time to contact me and let me know what they are doing or propose to do. I maintain 13 miles of singletrack, mostly by myself.

    Occasionally I can't get out to the trails for several weeks, and having reports on things like fallen trees is extremely helpful. Taking a little extra time to let the person in charge of maintenance know what you are taking care of could save a half hour walk to do something you already took care of. I spend about 200 hours a year on trail work, and every minute is like gold slipping through my fingers. There's never any where near enough.

    My club's name and website is listed at the trail head, and the park manager has my contact information. It's pretty easy.

    Walt

  6. #6
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    There's an article in the Aussie mag Revolution this month called the 5% Rule. It's not about trail grade, but whether it's appropriate every rider should put 5% of their total riding time into basic trailwork, be that clearing sticks, trimming, working on drainages, advocacy or whatever. Seems to me that is a more valid question than whether it may be wrong to spend a few minutes tidying a trail!

    lamb, if you have the decency and energy to put some time into kicking organic off the downslope side of standing water/puddles, removing debris after wind events, unblocking drains and reporting more important issues to the land manager, then good on you and I hope the LM contacts you if volunteers are needed.

    Whenever I go to another trail network I spend some time doing the simple tasks that need doing on a weekly+/- basis. Nothing major, nothing structural, just helpful and in the interest of user safety.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by lamb View Post
    Just curious if it is okay to do simple trail maintenance on your own on public land/parks? Not talking about adding jumps or re-routing just simple weed trimming, downed tree removal, etc.
    If you have to ask, then generally no.

    Get wired into your local cycling community. Get to know those responsible for the trails. Then all the answers will become self-evident.

  8. #8
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    Just do it. For christ sakes, if it`s coming to the point that it takes longer ask permission to drag some debris off the trail than to do the task?????? some people have to make things waaaay more difficult than they need to.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Powderman View Post
    Just do it. For christ sakes, if it`s coming to the point that it takes longer ask permission to drag some debris off the trail than to do the task?????? some people have to make things waaaay more difficult than they need to.
    I don't like that, either. to be fair, some agencies/land managers are REALLY open to impromptu work to clean up the place. my local trails are one such place. the previous land manager even gave me permission to haul my chainsaw out to clear blowdowns, and he gave me the combination to the tool shed, which I have done on a couple occasions. there's a new manager out there now and frankly I've been too busy with work to do anything major. but I'd make sure to clear anything major with him first. make sure the boundaries are clear.

    I've also done maintenance for more strict managers that would not allow volunteers to handle chainsaws under any circumstances whatsoever. again, it's just a case of making sure the boundaries are clear.

    know exactly what is permitted without asking specific permission. know what is permissible, but requires specific permission to do, and know what is not permissible at all, or has restrictions in place (certifications, safety equipment, official work day, supervision by paid staff, etc).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Powderman View Post
    Just do it. For christ sakes, if it`s coming to the point that it takes longer ask permission to drag some debris off the trail than to do the task?????? some people have to make things waaaay more difficult than they need to.
    I agree with you, if there is something on the trail that can be moved-- just do it and move along. I was just asking for opinions since lots of people on here are in charge of trail maintenance. I did not come across some sticks on the trail that I did not move cause I wanted to ask first. I was just curious as to what people thought.

  11. #11
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    Sticks on the trail are either a hazard or a trail closure!

    Sticks alongside the trail could be something else.

    Although current trail political correctness suggests not lining your trail with sticks like the track to Grandma's house, in fact wood on the downslope edge can be used very effectively. We place small logs/branches on the downslope of rocky trail and then add stones to fill gaps. This encourages water flowing off the trail to slow and drop silt. After some time the trail bed raises, rather than eroding and exposing more stone (the inevitable result of cross-water and lots of tires), but as it is durable, still outsloped and not on the exact riding line, it turns a stony/rocky, rough, superficially-eroded and shitty riding trail into a better ride.

    Locally, people who obviously don't build, 'cause we don't know them, move such logs away. There's no point to it, they are not fall hazards and they are not in the riders' lines, but somehow the message that logs don't line trail has been pervasive like a fart in a small room.

    What I am saying is, yes please clear trail, improve sight lines, unclog drains and generally be a good tellytubby, but don't change things that are established without getting the go-ahead from the TM. Even if they don't make sense to you!

    Even more important - if you love your local trails, then watch how things naturally change over time. Beginner or expert tail wizard, you will learn more about what is needed by watching than doing.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy View Post
    I appreciate people who pitch in with basic maintenance such as kicking sticks and dragging branches off the trail. Cutting weeds is great too. Downed tree removal is OK with hand tools, but the park manager can't allow casual use of a chain saw.


    Exactly what I was going to say. Helping with little things along the way definitely helps in the long run, especially if they can be caught before they turn into a bigger issue.

    If it requires power tools or some major (yes, subjective...) work... always contact the land manager or owner. If its something that can be done quickly by hand... They generally, have at it.



    (and for those bigger projects... don't forget that we have grant funding available for trail projects and cleanup. Tread Lightly - Stewardship Grants )
    To learn more about Tread Lightly! and responsible use of public lands, or to become a member, visit www.treadlightly.org

  13. #13
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    You should probably fill out a Liability Waiver before doing any work on trails.
    It's probably a CYA thing with most public land managers.

    Everyone sees things differently also. Can you ID a weed? Do you know "how"
    to trim trees without killing them? etc....

    I think an initial visit to see if we're on the same page and then you're good to go.

  14. #14
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    it's all relative to location. up in the ganaraska you can move downed trees and similar obstructions, but they freak out if you ride off trail or even attempt to build a new one. it can be done subtly; don't think twice about building jumps: big no no!

  15. #15
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    the answer definitely depends on where you are. The trails I mostly ride are only maintained by riders and maintenance is often reversed by the homeless and the weather. We do maintenance rides with chainsaw in a backpack and backpack mounted weed sprayers. Many ride with a folding saw in their camelbak 100% of the time.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PretendGentleman View Post
    the answer definitely depends on where you are. The trails I mostly ride are only maintained by riders and maintenance is often reversed by the homeless and the weather. We do maintenance rides with chainsaw in a backpack and backpack mounted weed sprayers. Many ride with a folding saw in their camelbak 100% of the time.
    So you guys are the Transformers of trailcare!?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ridnparadise View Post
    So you guys are the Transformers of trailcare!?
    decepticons if you're the d.o.t.
    autobots if you're an m.t.b.

  18. #18
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Beginner or expert tail wizard, you will learn more about what is needed by watching than doing.
    Ahhh....I, too, was an expert level tail wizard in college. But I came up with my own techniques....
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

    Thrill Bikers Unite!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    Ahhh....I, too, was an expert level tail wizard in college. But I came up with my own techniques....
    To learn more about Tread Lightly! and responsible use of public lands, or to become a member, visit www.treadlightly.org

  20. #20
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    Try to build a rapport with the LM Ask him/her if it's OK to drag fallen limbs off the trail, cut fallen trees with a hand saw, maybe trim back thornes and brambles. I doubt they'd say no. You don't have to ask each time, just get blanket permission.
    I try to avoid sexual innuendo, but its hard.

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