April 23, 2013
Stewardship Workshop Inspires Mindfulness on Trails
The Shuswap, British Columbia – Who knew so much thoughtfulness goes into the ubiquitous weaving trail through the woods? Twenty five new participants who participated in this weekend’s Shuswap Trail Alliance Stewardship Workshop-in-the-Woods now do. Together they discovered concepts like the rule-of-half, water flow, user experience, gateways and edges, pruning to the collar, and undulations and meanders – all concepts central to the new best practices in sustainable trail design.
“Undulations and Meanders – called UMs – are a key concept,” said trail developer and workshop co-leader, Jim Maybe, who team led the weekend workshop with fellow Shuswap Trail developers, Kevin Pattison, Sutra Brett, Damon Kent, and lead trail steward, Clint Smith. “They help to engage the user, make the trail interesting to travel on, focus impact, and create mini-watersheds to control water.”
Together the workshop team guided participants through an evening of theory and then a full day out in the field for full-on practical training. “Oh yeah, baby!” shouts Shuswap Trail Alliance operations manager, Kevin Pattison, leading the Saturday field warm-up. He’s a passionate believer that hands on learning is essential to understanding and seeing the results of sustainable trail building techniques.
And the results are telling. With over 70 kilometers of new trail developed throughout the Shuswap by regional partners in the last 8 years, and over 250 kilometers of managed greenway trails throughout the region, the communities of the Shuswap appear determined to reimagine themselves as a lifestyle trail centre that includes First Nations, provincial, regional districts, municipalities, businesses, and stewards.
“We’re feeling the momentum building toward a long-term program of trail stewards throughout the region,” says Carmen Massey, stewardship coordinator for the Shuswap Trail Alliance. “People are recognizing the effort and the expense that goes into building and caring for a well maintained trail system and are stepping up to contribute.” Carmen points to the strong history in the region for volunteer created and supported trails through organizations like the Larch Hills Nordic Society and the EQ Trails Association. “We have a trained group of stewards that we can count on, and that is growing,” she says, also acknowledging the remarkable support of community sponsors like Tim Horton’s, who provided lunch for the workshop participants, and Skookum Cycle and Ski, Ways2Ride, and Trailheads Cycle who provided participant door prizes.
“There’s a special place for people who don’t want to be part of something more formalized, however, but love trails,” Carmen is quick to add, noting there are many different ways of being a trail steward. “Some people prefer walking the trails mindfully by themselves and taking time to leave the trail in better shape for the next person to come that way. If you take time to walk thoughtfully flicking sticks off the trail, or even just send in a report of work that needs attention, that’s being a steward too.”
Trail reports can be sent to lead trail steward, Clint Smith, through the regional trails hotline at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the report a trail button on the www.shuswaptrails.com website. “Watch for opportunities coming throughout the season as the trail stewardship program becomes more formalized,” encourages Carmen, pointing to upcoming volunteer trail days this Sunday morning, April 28th at both the South Canoe trail system with the Shuswap Trail Alliance and at the Skimikin Lake Trail System with the EQ Trails Association. Check the www.shuswaptrails.com event page for details.
The Shuswap Trail Alliance is looking for volunteer stewards interested in helping to test the revised tool on local trails. To join the Shuswap Trail Stewards network, call 250-832-0102 or email email@example.com. Volunteer days start this month, including with the annual Trail design/build workshop, April 19 & 20th. Check out the event calendar at www.shuswaptrailalliance.com.