Trail maintenance woes in National Parks

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gfelsman
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Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:33 pm

Re: Trail maintenance woes in National Parks

Post by gfelsman »

If you enjoy exploring the Ventana Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness or other areas of the Big Sur Region. Consider making a donation to the VWA organization to support their efforts working in the Big Sur Region.
BP22
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Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:28 pm

Re: Trail maintenance woes in National Parks

Post by BP22 »

Interesting article, Jack, thanks for posting. You would think that the maintenance of our beautiful public nature spots National Parks) would be a priority but unfortunately not so, and it doesn't even seem like it would be wildly expensive, and would also create jobs. This highlights the fantastic and much appreciated job our own Ventana Wilderness Alliance Volunteer crews (Betsy and company) do in our own wilderness here. We are lucky to be able to enjoy their hard (volunteer) work.
geoffvirtue
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Joined: Sat Mar 14, 2020 11:10 pm

Re: Trail maintenance woes in National Parks

Post by geoffvirtue »

It's sad that we don't see more investment into our park system but I can attest to how hard the rangers work in Monterey and how willing to work with the public and volunteers they are.

I also have to shout out all of the work that Betsy and the VWA crews do.

I know there's wildlife out there clearing some of the more obscure trail too.. Good on that wildlife..!
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jack_glendening
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Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:03 am

Trail maintenance woes in National Parks

Post by jack_glendening »

The New York Times just posted a 'Guest Essay' lamenting the sad state of trail maintenance in the National Parks - "America’s Trails Are a Wonder, and They Need Our Help" at
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/25/opin ... doors.html, though perhaps behind a paywall.

The most interesting parts to me were:
Trail crews often serve as the only eyes and ears in the backcountry.
Crews are often the first to report a wildfire or to begin the search
for a missing person. The same crews fix safety hazards to prevent
tragedies. Worker shortages place a heavier burden on crew leaders like
Mr. Fickler, especially in parks like Yosemite, which has only about 25
permanent employees on its trail staff for over 750 miles. About four
million annual visits are made to Yosemite.

Money can certainly help address the trail problems on federal lands,
but that seems, like willing workers, in short supply.The National Park
Service, which oversees 85 million acres, faces $23 billion in deferred
maintenance, and since 2011, the agency has cut nearly one in five jobs
from its operation staff, even though visitation rose and four new
national parks have been authorized. At the U.S. Forest Service, which
manages an additional 193 million acres, 45 percent of its permanent
employees have left since 2021.

The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, signed by President Donald
Trump in 2020, sought to address trail funding shortfalls, yet four
years after its passage, the Forest Service estimates that it still
lacks even one full-time trail worker in more than one-third of its
districts, and 410 full-time trail jobs remain unfilled.

Trail crew jobs, whether paid or volunteer, can be experiential models
for how to counteract America’s lonely shift inward. Working on public
lands provides the setting to learn and embody the values of long-term
stewardship and communal obligation in a specific place, for a specific
civic purpose.

In the Monterey District the USFS has ~320 miles of trail with (just recently) ~2 paid trail-oriented workers -
and of course the VWA has only volunteer trail workers.
Big Sur Trailmap: https://bigsurtrailmap.net
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