MARCH WORK TRIP ANNOUNCEMENT – BENTON MACKAYE TRAIL ASSOCIATION

Please join us on Saturday, March 14th as we work our second trip on Fall Branch Falls. We made a good dent in this tough re-route in February, but we’ll need a few more trips to finish the job!! Meet for breakfast at 8:00 at the Village Restaurant in Blue Ridge. Or meet us in the parking area for Fall Branch Falls at 9:00. A call or e-mail to let us know you are coming is most welcome (it helps us plan for the right tools and safety equipment), but is certainly not required. Trip leader for the day is Barry Allen (770-294-7384) or barry.w.allen@att.net
First-timers are most welcome! For what to expect, what to wear, what to bring, go to http://www.bmta.org/pdfs/WorktripsWhatToExpect-revSep2011.pdf

WEATHER POSTPONEMENT: If weather forces a change of plans, the trip will NOT be cancelled in most cases. Instead we will simply postpone the trip for one week. Because of the changeable nature of North Georgia weather we wait as long as possible before postponing. Usually the decision is made early Friday evening and circulated immediately by email.

 

On Saturday, March 21st the BMTA is hosting a second March work event for Fall Branch Falls! Some of our Trout Unlimited friends and a few students from Young Harris College have graciously volunteered to help on the reroute. We would enjoy having a number of our regulars join us for this second March Work day! So double your March fun if you have the energy and help the Benton MacKaye Trail Association host Trout Unlimited and Young Harris College at Fall Branch Falls. Meeting will be at the parking area for Fall Branch, 9:00. Trip leader is Barry Allen, 770-294-7384.


 

Groups rally behind National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act

New legislation calls for improved investments in National Forest Trail System
 

Contacts:

Paul Spitler, The Wilderness Society (202) 360-1912
Jim McGarvey, Chairman of Back Country Horsemen of America (706) 669-1015
Ben Pendergrass, American Horse Council (202) 296-4031

WASHINGTON (February 10, 2015) – Outdoor recreation and conservation groups including the Backcountry Horsemen of America, The Wilderness Society, the American Horse Council, motorized recreation groups, outfitters and guides expressed their support for congressional legislation that would improve access and public safety on national forests and better address the persistent, growing backlog for trail maintenance on public lands.
 

The National Forest Trails System Stewardship Act of 2015, introduced today by Representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN), would keep more trails open and accessible by expanding the use of volunteer and partner organizations and providing increased focus on a handful of priority areas around the country.
 

More than 50 diverse recreation and conservation groups requested the legislation after a 2013 Government Accountability Office study found the Forest Service trail system is being squeezed between the demands of growing public use and shrinking budgets. According to that report, the maintenance backlog for forest trails exceeds $314 million dollars and threatens to limit public access, harm natural resources, and increase future maintenance costs.
 

“Improving safety and access in our national forests provides a significant return on investment for America,” said Paul Spitler, Director of Wilderness Campaigns at The Wilderness Society. “These trails fuel a powerful outdoor economy and keep our public lands accessible for Americans. They are simply too important to lose. We applaud Representatives Lummis and Walz for their leadership on preserving and maintaining America’s trails.”

 

The United States National Forest System contains the largest network of trails in the world and receives roughly 165 million visitors a year. While more people than ever are heading into national forests in pursuit of exercise, relaxation, and adventure, only one quarter of all trails are maintained to standard. The trails backlog prevents public access, poses dangers to public safety, and degrades clean water.
 

The Back Country Horsemen of America says the effort to create a more robust and coordinated trails-focused volunteer program is essential to preserving American’s access to the great outdoors
 

“Congress recognizes that our national forest trail system is deteriorating,” said Jim McGarvey, Chairman of Back Country Horsemen of America. “This bill emphasizes greater collaboration with volunteers and partner organizations and seeks to leverage additional resources to augment the important role played by Forest Service trail crews.”
 

“The recreational horse industry contributes $32 billion a year to the economy and supports nearly 435,000 jobs nationwide,” said American Horse Council Vice President of Government Relations Ben Pendergrass.  “However, it is dependent on access to public lands and well maintained trails. The current Forest Service trail maintenance backlog is a serious threat to its continued growth and health. This bill will help address the problem and ensure equestrians and all trail users continue to have access to, and are able to enjoy, trails on our national forests.”
 

In addition to expanding the use of volunteers the legislation also requires the Secretary of Agriculture to identify nine to fifteen priority areas throughout the country for increased trail maintenance.
 

Hiking groups also hailed the legislation. “We appreciate what the bill sets out to accomplish,” said Peter Olsen, Vice President at American Hiking Society. “The bill would significantly increase the role of partners and volunteers in maintaining trails throughout the national forests. During times of limited agency budgets, the role of volunteers is critical to ensuring Americans can continue to explore the great outdoors.”
 


Jake & Bull Mtn Trail System – CLOSED until further notice due to extreme weather damage

Please see the below news release from USFS, Blue Ridge Ranger District.

The next scheduled Jake & Bull trail workday isn’t until April 11th.  On that day we’ll need some folks to be loading gravel bags for the packing project planned for May 16th.

However, if the trails aren’t cleared of debris, that will mean no riding and no other trail work being done.

USFS will assess the trail damage next week after the remaining bad weather yet to come this week blows thru and will work with several of us to formulate a plan of attack on the debris.

  • If you are chainsaw certified and would be willing to go out hiking and cutting – please reply to this e-mail with your contact info.  And if there are dates that work best for you, even if during the week, please include that info.
  • If you would be willing to go out hiking and removing debris as it’s cut by the sawers – please reply to this e-mail with your contact info and days that work best for you.
  • If you are a certified crew leader who can go out with a sawing group – please reply to this e-mail with your contact info and days that work best for you.

It is going to take a lot of work on the parts of USFS and volunteers to get our trail system back open for us to enjoy.  The more people who pitch in to help, the sooner it’ll be re-opened.  I’ll coordinate with Stan Crane (SORBA) and USFS to get groups of people out there working together.

 

Please pass the word to your friends and post on every social page you use – The Jake & Bull Mtn Trail System is closed to ALL users (bikers, equestrians, hikers) until further notice.  The trails are too wet.  They are blocked with debris.  Power lines are down along FS28.  There are trees and branches still coming down.  The wind this evening will bring down more.  The winter weather we’ll get later this week will bring down more.  Due to more trees coming down it is too dangerous to even begin removing the debris – yet….

 

I hope to see ALL users sign up at some point in the coming weeks to help clear the trails.  And there are a LOT of users for this trail system.  Everyone can do something.  Even a few hours would be helpful.  If the same workers who usually volunteer are the only ones who come out to clear the trails, it will take us weeks, if not months.   And that means that those who don’t come help won’t be able to ride anyway.

 

As a reminder, you must be officially certified by the USFS in order to operate a chainsaw on national forest property.  So please don’t go out on your own to cut out debris, as tempted as you may be.  It’s too dangerous.   Coordinate with me to go out with a group.

 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Debbie Crowe
Chattahoochee Trail Horse Assoc
USFS Liaison
Georgiacrowes22@bellsouth.net
404-316-7956