Who's Getting Paid to do Trailwork?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Who's Getting Paid to do Trailwork?

    I'm interested in finding out the various ways people have gotten paid to do trail work. Either through grants or parks dept funds...exactly how can we get paid to do this?

    I figure if we can get paid to create trail projects and then get paid to build them...more trails would be opened to mountain bikers...we can go from the occasional free time volunteer to paid professional and focus our energy on the tasks neccessary to take the project from concept to reality in less time.

    Ideas?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by sick4surf
    I'm interested in finding out the various ways people have gotten paid to do trail work. Either through grants or parks dept funds...exactly how can we get paid to do this?

    I figure if we can get paid to create trail projects and then get paid to build them...more trails would be opened to mountain bikers...we can go from the occasional free time volunteer to paid professional and focus our energy on the tasks neccessary to take the project from concept to reality in less time.

    Ideas?
    I started out as a volunteer for the Forest Service. I simply called them and asked for an opportunity to do trail work. I attended every volunteer event for the season (1996). That winter someone here decided to launch a conservation corps and fund it with Americorps grants. The Forest Service suggested they hire me, and they did. We did both trail work and thinning projects the first couple years and then branched out and began working for Natioal Parks and State and County Parks doing all sorts of projects, some included trail work. I got paid as a crew supervisor for several years. I became the most experienced trail worker in the region and got the chance to design and build a new trail in a county park. Some of the land managers had funds to pay our crews and some applied for grants like the RTP (restoration trails program) grant that helps fund trail maintenance projects on existing trails. We also have a local non-profit bike club that paid me to do some trail maintenance during the off season. I also took a year away from the corps and went to work for a private trail maintenance contractor who worked through the Forest Service and was using RTP grants to pay me and my crew to do several months of heavy trail work.

    You could find a company that builds trails or you could contact government agencies who disperse funding and ask them what you'd need to do to start a crew and get paid. Generally you have to be a legitimite conservation corps or something similar. Not just a handful of motivated enthousiasts, even though the enthousiasts might do more work. Most Ranger Districts hire a few trail crew members each season but you'd need to get you application in early in the year. Then be sure you express a strong interest in trail work so they don't con you into getting red card training and spending the season fighting fires while the trails fall apart. That happens a lot with FS trail crews. The FS has a web site you can use to apply and pick the regions you prefer to work in. Some local governments pay individuals to do contract trail work. The downhill and cross-crountry trail system in Boulder City was conceived by a man who convinced the city council to pay him to design it and get it built. You can also track down various conservation corps in the northeast and see if they are hiring. The pay is low and the work is hard but if you are good, you'll become a crew leader quickly and have more input on the kind of work you do as well as making contacts with other agencies who might offer you a job doing just trail work. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Log off and go ride!
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    Used to. But changed careers, so I don't anymore.

    When I worked for the Forest Service I sometimes did trail inventory. Hike, pedal, or ATV trails with a GPS and make copious notes on trail conditions, where work was needed, etc.

    It was not as glamorous or fun as you might expect. It was damn hardwork. I had to complete a lot of miles every day regardless of weather. If it was raining or blazes hot it didn't matter -- I still had to get the work done. No time to dawdle or enjoy the trail. Hustle all day long every day and several 14 hour days in row were not uncommon. I was actually relieved when the project ended.

  4. #4
    Builder of Trails
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    I started my own trail building company a a couple of years ago. Here in Texas where there isn't much public land (<5%), the bulk of my jobs are private developers. I've been working in a subdivision, laying in pieces of trail to connect neighborhoods with existing trail. I just won a bid for a little under a mile of new trail for about $10K. It's hard work...very steep slopes at 40-50%, lots of imbedded and loose rock, and thick with junipers. If I'm lucky, I might be able to get a mini skid steer in to part of it.

    Feel free to email me at dewayne @ talontrails.com (no spaces) if you have specific questions.

    D

  5. #5
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    I went the same way Dewayne did....started a trail building company. I think it takes at least one full time person to run the crews that is qualified to do the work and manage people.

    I never could figure out how to get the money flowing except in a full blown contract situation. The way most contracts work is via bidding process. So it may be all the advocacy work sets up the project that gets funded and put out to bid. The successful bidder than gets the contract.

    Capitalism is what works best in almost every industry in this country. Trail building is no different. Volunteers are wonderful, but if you live in a population challenged area of the country, sometimes it is hard to get beyond a few people giving a few hours a month. Trail building the proper way is time consuming and difficult work. It takes more than what volunteers can and should be asked to do (at least in my neck of the woods).

    It wasn't easy making the transition from volunteer to professional. We had to get the land managers and our fellow riders to view us as worthy of being paid to do this. This is where that qualified person is so key. Our first project was so successful in the eyes of both the land manager and our fellow volunteers, that it led to several more paid projects.

    We strive to involve volunteers as little as possible. Folks like not being asked to volunteer and all the sudden they have a new trail to ride. Then when a project calls for volunteers, they gladly come out to be part of the process and the learn from the "pros".

    It has worked well for us. 80+ miles built since 1997 and counting.

  6. #6
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    I just secured my pro gig this week, but it was years in the making. I have been hired as the official trail designer/trail boss for a mid size ski area here in the Tetons. Pay is good, but the only obstacle is the 600 inches of snow we recieved this last winter...my window for trail digging is only about 60 days (MAXIMUM) this season...ouch! I am trying to get 12 miles done (7 brand new) in a 42 day time frame, with a crew of six. We also can use some machines as well, but not for everything. a lot of hand digging, but I do have the crew seven days a week. Should be interesting. I got my foot in by volunteering for years on FS projects (and doing GOBS of pirate work, shhh). Get to know your FS trail manager and forest supervisors, they can be a tremendous source of help. Good luck!
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

    Thrill Bikers Unite!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit
    I just secured my pro gig this week, but it was years in the making. I have been hired as the official trail designer/trail boss for a mid size ski area here in the Tetons. Pay is good, but the only obstacle is the 600 inches of snow we recieved this last winter...my window for trail digging is only about 60 days (MAXIMUM) this season...ouch! I am trying to get 12 miles done (7 brand new) in a 42 day time frame, with a crew of six. We also can use some machines as well, but not for everything. a lot of hand digging, but I do have the crew seven days a week. Should be interesting. I got my foot in by volunteering for years on FS projects (and doing GOBS of pirate work, shhh). Get to know your FS trail manager and forest supervisors, they can be a tremendous source of help. Good luck!
    Would mid-sized be Targhee?

  8. #8
    Builder of Trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit
    I just secured my pro gig this week...
    Congrats, Wendell! I hope you can rock-and-roll and get that job completed.

    I'm waiting for the deposit check (1/2 up front) before starting, though I will go lay in some pic flags to be that much further along. It's starting to get hot here. We even had an 100 degree day in April. Our evenings have been cooler...in the 70s and 80s. I don't want to burn my crew out, so I let them work at a steady but not hectic pace and take breaks as often as they need. None the less, my crew has dwindled to the lead and one other guy.

    I might go to the local Home Depot and pick up a few day laborers. I just need to brush up on my Spanish a bit so I can tell them it's hot and hard work.

    Hey, will you be in Whistler for the Conference and Summit?

    Dewayne

  9. #9
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger
    Would mid-sized be Targhee?
    This company cannot comment on national security issues. BUT, if you drive 12 miles east of Driggs, you may find some clues.


    D, I am working on a proposal to have the local trail groups help fund my way up to Whistler...I don't have anything nailed down just yet. I am trying my hardest to go!
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

    Thrill Bikers Unite!

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