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Volunteers and ACE work on the Pine Ridge Trail

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Volunteers and ACE work on the Pine Ridge Trail

Postby Trevor W on Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:31 pm

In January of 2017 the VWA volunteer trail crew began preliminary surveys and trail work on the Eastern Pine Ridge Trail. After the survey, volunteers began removing fire-hardened brush and repairing tread as needed to ensure safe access for stock to support NFF-funded ACE crews based out of Divide Camp. Building upon work done during the Soberanes Fire Burned Area Emergency Response phase, the VWA volunteer trail crew conducted ten outings on the Eastern Pine Ridge Trail to clear brush and dangerous stobs left by fire crews during efforts to contain the Soberanes Fire. In total, 21 volunteers contributed 678.5 hours to these outings. They removed one campsite, enhanced one campsite, built 11 drainage structures and enhanced two others, reconstructed 57.5 yards of tread, maintained 209 yards of tread, removed 27 fallen logs from the trail, removed brush from 7,054 yards of trail, cleaned one campsite, removed one campsite, and hauled out one pound of trash.

After these volunteer outings the Pine Ridge Trail was ready for pack support that would supply the ACE crews based out of Divide Camp. Unfortunately, late winter storms made access to the Pine Ridge Trailhead via the Tassajara Road unsafe for hauling a stock trailer, so the first ACE hitch was deployed self-supported in order to stay on schedule. With the help of volunteer porters, the ACE crew and VWA Stewardship Program Coordinator (SPC) Trevor Willits carried ACE camping supplies and provisions to Divide Camp, returned to the trailhead for the night and then carried the crew’s personal gear and remaining supplies to camp the next day. After setting up camp, the crew began removing encroaching brush on the Pine Ridge Trail past Divide Camp. Consecutive days of sunny weather helped to improve conditions on the Tassajara road and stock support was possible for the remaining hitches. The crew was able to restore stock passability of the Pine Ridge Trail to the junction with the Bear Basin Connector Trail.

AI-512 Ventana Wilderness Alliance PHOTO #4.JPG
Log jam blocking the trail

AI-512 Ventana Wilderness Alliance PHOTO #5.JPG
Fresh trail after removing logs and root wad

The work accomplished by the VWA volunteer trail crew and contracted ACE crews, with packing support from the Forest Service, made a striking improvement to the condition of the Eastern Pine Ridge Trail. The accomplishments of NFF-funded ACE crew hitches on the Pine Ridge trail were as follows: three volunteers donated 198 hours to assist with hauling ACE gear and working alongside the crews. During two 80-hour and two 40-hour ACE hitches the crews, the SPC, and VWA Trail Crew Chief Betsy McGowan improved one campsite, built three rock retaining walls and one check step, reconstructed 105 yards of tread, maintained 2,948 yards of tread, removed 14 fallen trees from the trail, and removed encroaching brush from 4,224 yards of trail. A total of 2,598 professional crew hours were spent on this effort.

PRT lupines.jpg
Wild flowers growing in the burn scar

In September of 2017 eight volunteers accompanied inmate crews from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Gabilan Conservation Camp to finish bringing the initial 0.75-mile segment of the Eastern Pine Ridge Trail up to standard. During this effort 1,320 yards of trail were brushed and 72 yards of trail tread were maintained, and a total of 77 volunteer hours and 252 inmate crew hours were expended.

This project was funded by Matching Awards Grant #AI-512 from the National Forest Foundation, and a donation from Recreational Equipment INC.

The VWA plans to continue this project in the spring, with the goal of restoring stock access of the PRT all the way to Pine Ridge Camp.
Trevor W
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:10 am
Location: Santa Cruz, CA

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