Monday, April 27, 2015

2014 Project Accomplishments and Summary for the Idaho Trails Association

The following is a guest blog by the Idaho Trails Association (ITA), a non-profit 501c3:

ITA’s Mission
Idaho Trails Association promotes the continued enjoyment of Idaho’s hiking trails.

ITA’s Purpose
To facilitate the active enjoyment of Idaho’s public lands and hiking trails, the Idaho Trails Association brings together citizens and develops partnerships to foster:

• Care-taking of Idaho’s hiking trails through stewardship projects, including trail construction and maintenance.

• Development of traditional trails maintenance skills.

• Understanding and appreciation, through education of Idaho’s unique trail resources.

• Preservation, protection and access to Idaho’s hiking trails through outreach and advocacy.

In 2014 Idaho Trails Association completed seven projects on the National Forest and BLM system lands in Idaho. Our Agency sponsors were the Boise BLM-Bruneau Field Office, Payette, Boise, Sawtooth and Panhandle National Forests. Four of these projects were within designated Wilderness, and involved both trail work and stewardship activities and three were on high use non-motorized trails.

The projects ranged from five volunteers in more remote and logistically challenging areas to fifty volunteers on the work days that were closer to large population bases.

Lunch Break at National Public Lands Day
Number of volunteers - 139
Volunteer field hours - 1,660
Monetary value - $36,520
Miles of trail cleared - 40.5
Miles of trail reconstructed - 4
Miles of new construction - 2
Logs cut from trail - 125
Water bars cleaned - 350
Puncheon constructed - 18 feet
Bridge construction - 1 @18 feet
Fence Removal - 1.6 miles
Wilderness Campsite Naturalization- 11
Human Waste Removal - “Piles”

Project Highlights:

The Panhandle NF provided the Grouse Mountain Trail project where the ITA crew constructed an eighteen foot long bridge, three hundred feet of newly constructed trail for the bridge approaches, eighteen feet of puncheon and removal of four large boulders from the trail tread. This project was funded through REI and ITA fund raising activities and membership.
Toxaway Lake, photo courtesy of Ed Cannady

The Sawtooth NF, Alice-Toxaway project was a highlight of the season. Six ITA volunteers spent five days in the Sawtooth Wilderness clearing over thirty miles of trail on one of the most popular loops in the Wilderness. The ITA crew also worked on cleaning camps and naturalizing overused sites. This weeklong session was funded through a grant from the Sawtooth Society.
Alice Lake, photo courtesy of Ed Cannady

The Boise BLM Bruneau Field Office has been a great partner to work with in the Owyhee Canyonlands and Wilderness areas. They have provided early and late season opportunities for volunteers to get out and help. We have removed wire fence, decommissioned roads and built new trail along with reconstructing existing trails in amazing country is always a big draw for volunteers. Roberson Trail in the Owyhee Wilderness has become an annual event on National Trails Day for ITA. This project brings in large numbers of volunteers who work at multiple projects to help with the stewardship of this area. This Owyhee project was funded through grants from REI.

The Hum Lake Trail on the Payette NF was the inaugural ITA project in 2010. We continued to work on this trail as an overnight project working to help reopen the North Fork of Lick Creek trail. We have added day work parties to this trail as it has become a very popular volunteer opportunity. This project is funded by REI and the USFS and volunteer pack support from BD Recreation Consultants.

Future Trail Boss
The National Public Lands Day brought out over 50 volunteers to do stewardship work in and outside the Owyhee Wilderness. During this project in the Owyhee Canyonlands the skills of future trail bosses were discovered. This young man was part of a “Toddler Brigade” who helped remove baseball sized rocks from the trail tread. He and 6 other youth were supervised by two parents who instructed the brigade in how to remove rocks without hurting or throwing them at anyone. The brigade was a success! It was hard to get past the group at the end of the day as everyone had to hear and see what a great job they did, and they did do a great job!

The Future:

The classic one day work party: As ITA grows we are getting more requests from the agencies for single day work parties to work on trails close to population hubs. These work parties have been funded by REI and the land management agencies, however future funding opportunities need to be pursued.
Cutting tress above Duck Lake

Large volunteer projects provide challenges because of the need to ensure ITA has enough qualified crew leads to manage the volunteers are available. Recruiting other passionate crew leaders will be important for future expansion and success.
Hum Lake Summit

ITA prides itself in teaching safety and completing the best quality trail work while also working towards creating supporters and stewards of our public lands. We may not knock out a project as fast as a contractor or force account crew, but the quality should be the same, and the potential of creating lifelong supporters of public lands is great. This goal is important for future partner relationships.

Our Message:

Roberson Trail Owyhee Wilderness
ITA is a hiking, trail advocacy and stewardship group. We formed to provide the voice for hikers throughout the state. Our role is to get work done and to develop strong stewards of the land who are informed and educated enough to provide support to land management agencies and continuing this goal is important.

ITA is proud to teach and promote traditional skills while accomplishing trail work. We feel it is a needed and necessary way to safely engage the public into volunteer stewardship to help our public lands. ITA promotes these traditional skills to provide the training and understanding that work can be accomplished safely and efficiently in this manner.

ITA has a goal to safely engage the public in stewardship activities, by doing this we hope to build a more accepting and supportive public who will enjoy recreating and participating in the future of our public lands.

Our Thanks:

To REI, Sawtooth Society, Agency Partners, volunteers, members, contributors, Board of Directors and Advisory Board for their time, energy, leadership and monetary contributions.

For more information on the Idaho Trails Association, please visit their website.

Grand Teton Hiking

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