Live Blog – Pisgah Ranger District Trails Strategy Meeting

We’re going to post updates from tonight’s Trails Strategy meeting with the forest service, regarding the Pisgah Ranger District trails (Bent Creek, Mills River, Davidson River, Shining & Middle Prong Wilderness areas, and the Graveyard Fields/Black Balsam areas). Keep watching as we’ll be providing updates from the meeting (we have wifi). And post comments with your suggestions – we’ll be sure to share it with the working group while we’re here!

24 thoughts on “Live Blog – Pisgah Ranger District Trails Strategy Meeting

  1. Pre-update: The meeting gets started soon, but the latest agenda shows we might have a little bit more time – meeting ends now at 8:30. Let us know what you think about the trails in this area.

  2. Update 1:
    We’re starting the meeting now. A lot of the pre-meeting discussion revolved around user conflicts on the trails. Anyone have some good ideas on how mutl-use trails can be friendly to multiple user groups?

  3. Update 2:Again, there are a diverse set of groups represented here at the meeting. We have folks from the Carolina Mountain Club, Sierra Club, High Country Hikers, the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, Wild South, Pisgah Area SORBA, Backcountry Horsemen, and other individuals interested in the collaborative process. We’re heading for the maps soon! 

  4. Jordan- thanks for doing this. 
    User conflicts:  Bikers need to remember that we’re still viewed as outsiders and that’s just the way it is.  Accept it, slow down, smile, talk about how beautiful it is to be in the woods.  With the equestrians, I always keep talking by telling the equestrians that I’m going to keep talking because I heard that horses cannot see very well and that’s why they get spooked, so I’m going to keep talking. They always seem to appreciate that effort.
     
    Mike Brown

    • Good point Mike – the necessity for more user education along these lines was just brought up. Maybe it’s something we can discuss further, and present to the FS in concert with this?
       
      Here’s a crazy idea I’ve heard (can’t take credit for it, unfortunately): in high-conflict areas, make users obtain a permit (yeah yeah, I know, it kind of stinks) before being allowed to ride. As a part of the permitting process, you go through a basic training session. It’s a pain, but could it be a viable way to alleviate some of the issues?

      • And to clarify the above post: it’s not something I’d be enthusiastic about nor would I hope it to be the first solution sought out. But with draconian measures like that definitely on the table…can we come together to find a way to head off permits and fees before they become inevitable?

  5. Update 3:The Forest Service folks have been asked to clarify what type of comments and suggestions they want on the maps. They’re asking for specifics: things like “This section of trail is too eroded, reroute it this way and connect back in down at the gap…”  Very specific. Think about the trails and come up with some stuff for us to share! 

  6. Update 4:
    We’re off to the maps! There’s also a form we can fill out rather than drawing on the maps which asks for us to suggest the following: Quick Fixes (volunteers can take care of it right away), Decommisions (trail closures – yuck!), Connectors/Links, Related Facilities Needs (like parking area facilities), Maintenance Issues, and Relocations.

  7. Thanks Jordan.  Try to steer any conversation away from closures to re-routes of areas that are not sustainable. Also, IMO the more connecting trails the better. 

    • Pete – do you have any specific connectors you’d like to see? Maybe some existing, user-created trails that don’t need too much work to bring up to standards?

  8. Update 5:
    Lots of great comments showing up on the maps. Some I don’t agree with, but that’s OK – the point here is to let everyone be heard. Still seeing lots of new trails being proposed – which probably has less of a chance at seeing the light of day. Does anyone know of improvements that *don’t* require building new trails?

  9. Update 6:
    Looks like most people are done updating the maps. We’re going to re-convene soon and discuss as a group what’s been suggested. That’s the part that got interesting at the last meeting – we’ll keep adding notes.

  10. Update 7:
    The group has re-convened to talk about the suggestions that have been drawn/sticky-noted to the map. First up: loop around Moore Cove trail using user-created trails, and decommissioned former official trails?

  11. Update 8:
    Well, the topic of decommissioning (closing) trails has come up unfortunately. One suggestion was closing Ivestor Gap to vehicular use during the blueberry-picking season – luckily that wouldn’t affect hikers our mountain bikers. The other would be the northernmost part of Green Mountain trail. Could this be relocated rather than closed entirely?

  12. “stonewall” in bent creek.
    upper middle fork and the connector to the middle of big creek from the top of never ending road.
    Sassafras Gap
     
    These trails are all relatively sustainable in their alignment and should, IMO, be open.
     
    But, saying you know they exist might not be the best idea ever…

  13. The meeting is underway and we’re off to the maps. Click the link above for live updates as the meeting goes on.

  14. Update 9:
    Still lots of suggestions for opening new trails coming up. There’s a trail up Courthouse Creek which some of us have hiked before which was suggested to be officially added to the trail system. A good idea – but is there enough funding and community support to *add* miles to the trail system?

  15. Update 10:
    We’ve stepped back to more general discussion now. One collaborator’s comments were, one of the goals of this strategy is how to bring the trail system from being 16% in compliance with Trail Management Objectives (TMO’s) – design and maintenance standards developed by the Forest Service – closer to that goal of 100%. Adding new trails to the system doesn’t accomplish this, though. How do we get more people involved in trail maintenance so that the trail system can ultimately sustain the use it’s likely to see in years to come?
     

    • 1) Make it easier to be involved.  The volunteer agreement and documentation required of trail leaders is ridiculous.  I would never be a trail leader again because I work 50-55 hours a week and want to have some fun too.  I don’t have time for all the BS. 
      2) Get summer camps involved. 60 kids and 5 good leaders can get a lot fo work done.
      3) Give people meaningful work they are passionate about.
      4) Acknowledge reaching the trail standards without $ and re-routes is impossible.  Either pursue cash/reroutes or do the best with what we have.
       
      All that said, I do prefer the idea of focussing more on improving the conditions of trails we have.  Making the re-route process easier for the worse sections is BY FAR the best way to do this. 
       

  16. Update 11:
    Wrapping up now – focus has been on how to move from all these suggestions to a long-term plan to come up with the resources to support whatever on-the-ground strategy comes out of this. Also, the idea of a regional trail collaborative which out-lives the Forest Service trails process was brought up once again. Can we promote use of non Forest Service trails to take some of the pressure off of them? One thing’s for sure – there seem to be more trail opportunities arising off the National Forest than on.

  17. Get Outdoor Retail involved with give always and lunches. Our SORBA trail days went from a handful of folks(5 or 6) to a group of 70 to 90 with the help of REI. Now we are getting feedback from bike shops and outdoor retailers that they want to sponsor their on trail days. We are also approaching the running clubs and nature clubs to organize trail days in unison with SORBA here in South Carolina.

    • Great idea – one of the main themes of the collaborative process has been brainstorming various corporate sponsors/funding sources that could be looked at for help. There was definitely some discussion about that tonight, too. New Belgium Ranger District, anyone? :)

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