Summer is almost starting to come to an end, at least we are past Labor Day. I am looking forward to cooler temperatures and fall foliage. I plan to do a couple of Trail Ambassador patrols and enjoy autumn, and certainly encourage you as well to get out on the trail.
Last month I talked about how fortunate we are to have such hard working members. The other side of that is in many cases there is only one person doing each job. If a bolt of lightning were to strike that person, then we would have a large function unfilled.
Trail Director Tom Lamb suggested we should have at least two overseers on each section. This helps to insure that more work gets done and there is the increased safety factor.
Having multiple people in the vital jobs not only helps spread the work load, it also engages more members, provides training for board positions and affords back-up just in case. I expect this to be discussed at upcoming board meetings with a policy resolution.
On a recent work trip I found myself talking about the quality of trial work. When I suggested that some work seemed unfinished, the retort was that it is “better than before”. While true, to an extent, what happens when the work is washed away after a couple of rain storms? My sense is that if we are going to build something it should be as good as it can be. On the trail this means devices that are long lasting or sustainable.
Consider the difference between trail maintenance and trail building. Trail maintenance should consist of “refreshing” drains and dips which a small crew should be able service in about twenty minutes. Once a device has been built it should only require maintenance, perhaps once a year. Theoretically, the Overseers should be able to service their section in a few hours.
Devices should be built to be sustainable, where they will perform for a year or more unattended. Sometimes when building devices we stop too early, which means they will not endure very long. Most often work stops with insufficient outslope and drainage.
I have been against water bars for years. Because at best they require frequent maintenance and at worst they create erosion causing a big step, which is usually the case. It also seems in many situations that they are not fully constructed,
As such, I believe the best general solution are Dips or Knicks. When built wide and with sufficient out slopping these devices will perform for a year or more. With periodic maintenance they will work for years to come. It should seem barely noticeable to hikers in either direction.
Consider attending the Trail Skills Workshop this October. We are fortunate to have several highly qualified instructors sharing the latest techniques for building and maintaining sustainable trails. There is information elsewhere in this issue on the workshop.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline
The Appalachian Trail, A.T., is under attack again with another massive pipeline threatening to cross our trail. Similar to the Mountain Valley Pipeline Dominion Energy, with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, wants to force a pipeline across the Appalachian Trail on federal land managed by the Forest Service. In order to accomplish this they have to get Congress to overturn a federal court decision.
It is unfortunate that we have to work so hard to protect that which is supposed protected. The National Park Service Organic Act in 1916 proscribed that our national parks remain “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” I appreciate the need for energy and that it may be necessary to cross the A.T. Certainly there are places better suited for these incursions.
The writer and historian Wallace Stegner called our national parks “the best idea we ever had.” In my opinion our wild areas are our country’s most precious treasures. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail serves as a shining model for the whole world. It is the first such trail and the only long distance virtually entirely on public lands
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
In July 2019, a proposal was submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by an Alabama-based company, Twin Pines, seeking issuance of a permit to mine for heavy minerals (titanium and zirconium) from Trail Ridge near the southeastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.
The proposed mining will excavate approximately 50 feet which is below the Okefenokee Swamp depression. This threatens the ground water hydrology in southwest Georgia, perhaps permanently. For more information visit www.georgiaconservancy.org.
See y’all on the trial soon.