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Maintenance 101

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  1. Maintenance 101 April 2010

  2. What a maintainer needs to know Tools and equipment needed Blazing techniques Safety procedures Reporting procedures

  3. Trail Maintenance 101 • Welcome and introductions • Why be a maintainer? • Managing trail maintenance • What does a maintainer do? • Tools and equipment • 10 Minute Break! • Blazing demonstration • Health and safety • Unauthorized trail use • Lunch • Field work

  4. The NY-NJ Trail Conference • Volunteer based organization with staff support • Began in 1920 • Currently maintains 1,700+ miles of hiking trails • Members contribute 40,000+ hours annually • For more information: www.nynjtc.org

  5. Trail Maintenance Organization Structure Determines trail policies; approves new trails and major changes NY/NJ Trail Conference Trails Council Overall responsibility for trails within a geographic region (e.g. East Hudson, North Jersey) Trail Chair Supervises maintainers in a single park or area Supervisor Trail Crew Chief Maintainer Club Trail Chair Maintains a trail section of roughly 1.5 to 2 miles Club Maintainer

  6. Why the Trail Maintainer is Important • Provides for a pleasant and complete hiking experience • Makes trail safe for users • Limits potential for lost hikers • Minimizes impact of trails on the environment • Educates hikers • Reports trail abuse

  7. What Does a Trail Maintainer Do? • Inspects trail and file report at least twice a year • Clears vegetation and maintain blazing • Removes litter, fire rings, graffiti, etc. • Reports problems requiring assistance • Bridges, steps, water bars, etc. needing repair • Large blowdowns needing chain sawing • Makes trail improvements (often with help from others) - erosion control, wet areas, minor relocations

  8. Summer Spring Winter Fall Yearly Maintenance Cycle • Inspect for and clean up winter and spring storm damage • Look for water problems • Plan projects • Clip after spring and early summer growth • Best time for blazing • Inspect trail (if conditions permit) • Inspect trail • Clean up • Complete projects

  9. Tools For Trail Maintenance • Tools every maintainer needs • Loppers • Hand pruners • Bow saw (24-inch blade best) or folding saw • Blazing tools • Tag blazes, hammer, nails • - or - • Painting tools • Litter bags • Leather work gloves • Other tools you might want • Weed whip or pruning shears for low-growing plants • Pick-mattock or shovel

  10. 8 feet high 4 feet wide Clearing the Trail Appalachian Trail specification: • Trails with little backpacking traffic may be narrower with less overhead clearance--check with supervisor • Be sensitive to the environment -- do not clear excessively

  11. Cut here Clearing the Trail • Cut branches flush with the main stem or at a fork • Cut brush or small trees at ground level • Drag branches off the trail with the cut end away from the trail • Cut branches which obstruct the view of blazes • Block side and unauthorized trails with brush to avoid confusion

  12. Blowdowns • Clear all blowdowns • Not an effective deterrent to ATVs • Hikers will walk around blowdowns, causing trail widening • Trail without blowdowns can provide a fire break • Use a bow or pruning saw for trees up to 6-8 inches in diameter

  13. Large Blowdowns • Call supervisor for larger blowdowns requiring chain saw and describe blowdown 3 ways • Size – diameter • Position – across, along or hanging over trail • Location – notable landmark or distance • Use of chain saw requires certification: contact supervisor if you want take the certification course.

  14. Clearing Blowdowns

  15. Blowdowns on the ground

  16. Compression Supported Supported Tension Gravity Compression and Tension • Due to gravity, one side is in compression and one in tension • Tension pulls apart--cut from tension side so saw will not bind • If supported at both ends, bottom is in tension • Saw from bottom if possible; otherwise use a lever or wedge

  17. Unsupported Tension 1 2 Supported Compression Gravity Compression and Tension • If supported at only one end, top is in tension • Cut from top at 1 and then at 2

  18. Blazes Paint Blaze Tag Blaze • Paint or tag blazing depends on landowner • Supervisor will specify type and color of blazing for trail

  19. Cairns , Posts, and Signs • Cairns may be used where there is nothing to blaze or to emphasize an important trail junction • Posts may occasionally be needed in treeless areas • Signs clarify where you are and give distances

  20. Blaze Patterns End of Trail Standard Blaze Right Turn (upper blaze shows direction of turn) Start of Trail

  21. Trail Blazing Turns If nothing to blaze before the turn, can place turn blaze here instead Confirmation blaze a short distance past the turn Place turn blaze before the turn if possible In general, place turn blazes at turns of 45 degrees or more

  22. Blazing Hints • Don't overblaze or underblaze • When passing a blaze, next blaze should be visible • Fewer blazes on woods roads, more in difficult areas • Trailheads and trail crossings must be blazed clearly

  23. Blazing Hints - 2 • Make a separate trip for blazing, preferably with two people • Blaze one direction, then the other direction • Don't just repaint blazes; take a fresh, objective look

  24. Where to put Blazes • Blazes should be just above eye level • Blaze trees which catch the eye, preferably large trees near the trail with dark-colored bark • Never blaze dead trees • Avoid blazing rocks if possible • Paint out unneeded blazes with gray or brown spray paint

  25. Trail Blazing Two Trails on the Same Treadway • Always place blazes for both trails on the same trees, one above the other • The same blaze should always be on top • Blazes for long-distance trails such as the AT should be above blazes for local trails Appalachian Trail blaze Local trail blaze

  26. Tag Blazes • Use 2 inch galvanized roofing nails • Do not nail tight against tree--allow at least 3/4 inch for growth • Use 2 nails, one near top and one near bottom, never at sides (a few trails use one nail--your supervisor will advise you) 3/4 inch Nail Blaze Tree Nail

  27. Paint Blazes • Supervisor will indicate proper color • Scrape trees with rough bark; never scrape through the bark • Use a template to get accurate blaze size and shape: 2x3 inch, except 2x4 for Long Path and 2x6 for AT • Use a small brush • Avoid blazing if rainy or temperature is below 50 degrees

  28. Paint Blazing Tools • Scraper • Brush – 1/2 to 1 inch wide with cup and plastic wrap • Paint in screw top jar • Template • Equalizing spray paint (gray/brown) • Rags, disposable gloves

  29. Scrape

  30. Paint

  31. Done!

  32. Lets Try it!

  33. Can you spot the problem?

  34. Stepping Stones • Placed in wet areas and stream crossings so that hikers do not widen the trail • Use large, steady stones • Contact supervisor if the job is too big for you to handle

  35. Clear debris from behind water bars regularly Clear debris from behind water bars regularly Water flows off treadway Water flows off treadway Water Bars • Built by trail crew, cleaned by maintainer • Remove debris from behind water bar • Dirt is on downhill side so trail level is at top of water bar Direction of water flow

  36. Switchbacks • Switchbacks give a gentler slope and reduce erosion • Block off shortcuts with branches and debris

  37. Trail Relocations - Why • Follow terrain in a more natural way • Prevent erosion • Avoid wet areas (Are there better alternatives?) • Make trail safer • Gain improved views • Conform to landowner requests

  38. Trail Relocations - Approvals • Minimal relocations • Can be done by maintainer, but let supervisor know • Not likely to be noticed by a hiker familiar with the trail; • Typically affects less than 20 feet of trail • Supervisor will advise on approvals needed for all other types of relocations

  39. Safety Constant attention is needed to avoid accidents

  40. Learn safe practices and use common sense • Use the proper tools and use them safely • Do not work too close to others in your group • Know your limitations--ask for help if you need it

  41. Follow safe hiking practices • Avoid maintaining alone and tell others where you are going • Be aware of health risks due to heat and cold • Take plenty of water • Take first aid kit, flashlight, and other critical gear • Avoid poisonous snakes, rabid animals, and yellow jackets • Check for ticks; be aware of tick-borne illness

  42. Other outdoor hazards Ticks Deer Tick Dog Tick Deer Ticks carry Lyme Disease • Stinging Insects • Yellow jackets, wasps, and honey bees look similar. The first two insects sting multiple times. Honey bees sting once and then die.

  43. Special (and not so special) Plants on Your Trail • Threatened and endangered • Invasives • Exotics

  44. Threatened and endangered species • Identified on a few trail sections (mostly on the AT) – this information is confidential • Supervisor will advise of any maintenance restrictions • If you identify such species on trail, notify your supervisor

  45. Invasive Species • Many (e.g. barberry, garlic mustard, bittersweet, wild grape purple loosestrife, multiflora rose, Japanese stilt grass) are well established • Remove whenever possible. • No herbicide use

  46. Barberry Invasion Work to fight new invasions so as to make your job easier.