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West Hudson – Regional Trails Council Oct 5, 2016
Date:Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Committee:West Hudson Regional Trails Council
West Hudson – Regional Trails Council Agenda
6:30 – 8:30 pm, October 5, 2016
Open remarks and welcome:
- Approval of minutes
- Annual awards and award meeting – TBD
- AMC teen-week-long projects needed in Harriman for 2017 – Bob
ATC Volunteer Leaders Mtg – Chris, Bob
Risk Management Task Force – Chris, Bob
New Website Status, New Reporting Procedure – Mary/Russ Dooman
Planning and Budget Process status - Sona
Multiuse trail policy discussion – John Mack
Trail Conference Organizational Structure – Josh
Planning for Wed, Dec 14 meeting (all 2016 meetings are currently scheduled to be held at the Darlington Schoolhouse but alternate locations will be considered).
MINUTES OF A MEETING
WEST HUDSON REGIONAL TRAILS COUNCIL
NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY TRAIL CONFERENCE
August 9, 2016
1. Chair Bob Fuller called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. at the Trail Conference office in Mahwah, N.J. Present were Josh Howard - Deputy Executive Director; Sona Mason - West Hudson Program Coordinator; John Leigh - Volunteer Coordinator; Erik Mickelson - Field Manager; Andrew Argeski, Bill Burns, Carol Burns, Daniel D. Chazin, Marty Costello, Bob Fuller, Michael Fuhrman, Todd Jennings, Richard Jobsky, Barbara Kohlberger, Peter Kohlberger, John Mack, Jonathan Martin, Patty Lee Parmalee, Joel Pinsker, Chris Reyling, Marek Stycos, Rich Weiler and Patsy Wooters. He introduced Todd Jennings, the chair of the new Southern Shawangunks Trails Committee, and asked everyone to introduce themselves.
2. Minutes. The minutes of the June 15th meeting were approved as submitted.
3. Trail Crew AEDs. John Leigh reported that all qualified trail crews (those with members who have obtained the required certifications) that have requested AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) have already received them. He also pointed out that these AEDs must be inspected on a regular basis.
4. Chainsaw Park Notification Process. John Leigh reported that a revised list with e-mail addresses for the designated chainsaw contacts in parks under the jurisdiction of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has been sent out to all members of the Regional Trails Council, and he also agreed to resend the list to everyone. John Leigh explained that crews are required to notify the appropriate contact by e-mail before doing any work in these parks. Bob Fuller encouraged crews to send to the park contacts, after the work has been done, an additional e-mail setting forth the work that they have accomplished.
5. Awards and Annual Meeting. John Leigh stated that all nominations for Trail Conference awards, which will be presented at the Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 5th, must be submitted by September 15th. He encouraged everyone to attend the Annual Meeting.
6. AMC Crews in Harriman State Park. Bob Fuller encouraged everyone to recommend projects that they would like to see done next season by the AMC Youth Work Crews that will be operating out of the AMC’s new camp on Breakneck Pond in Harriman State Park. He pointed out that all such recommendations should be sent to Josh Howard, with copies to Bob Fuller and Sona Mason, by September 15th. Jonathan Martin explained that he needs time to evaluate the various proposed projects and determine whether they would be suitable for these youth crews.
John Mack expressed concern that he might not be notified of those projects that come within the area of his responsibility as West Hudson South Trails Chair. In response, Bob Fuller stated that all projects must be approved by the local Trails Chair. Jonathan Martin noted that work would be done on these projects by the AMC Youth Work Crews during late June and early July 2017. He also stated that he would be glad to advise anyone whether a particular project is suitable for these crews.
7. Manufactured Blazes. Bob Fuller noted that the Trail Conference recently purchased a quantity of manufactured blazes for the historical trails (1777 and 1779 Trails). He stated that the cost of manufactured blazes is about 50 to 75 cents each (when ordered in quantities of 500 or 1,000). Sona Mason pointed out that she has a stock of manufactured blazes for the Highlands Trail, Shawangunk Ridge Trail and Long Path. John Mack stated that the cost of manufactured blazes needed by local trails committees should be included in the budget requests submitted by these committees.
8. Risk Management Committee. Bob Fuller reported that the Policy Committee has requested that he form a Risk Management Committee. He stated that the initial members of this committee would be himself, Chris Reyling and Peter Kubat. [It was subsequently announced that Josh Howard and Geoff Hamilton would serve as the staff members of the committee.] Bob Fuller noted that the committee would be looking into both training requirements and procedural requirements that must be followed by crews and other volunteers. He pointed out that we are not looking to make things burdensome, but he stated that it is important that all trail work be performed safely.
9. Summary of Accomplishments. Bob Fuller requested each local trail committee and trail crew to report on their accomplishments during the first half of 2016:
a. Orange-Rockland A.T. Local Management Committee. Sona Mason pointed out that the position of Chair of the Orange-Rockland A.T. Local Management Committee is currently vacant. She reported that, for the year to date, committee volunteers have reported 1,592.5 hours of work, of which the vast majority (1,266 hours) represents work by the Long Distance Trails Crew.
Sona Mason reported that the challenges faced by the committee include identifying an appropriate person to serve as chair. She noted that other challenges are a persistent bear that has been hanging around the Brien Shelter in Harriman State Park and the erection of semi-permanent shelters near Fitzgerald Falls. Sona Mason stated that we would like to install a kiosk at the A.T. crossing of Route 17A in Warwick, but that the kiosk cannot be installed until an old cistern is removed from the parking area. She also pointed out that boulders need to be installed at the borders of this parking area.
Sona Mason reported that we are about to launch the program of stewards on the A.T. at the foot of Bear Mountain. She explained that the main function of these stewards would be to educate the public in good hiking practices. Sona Mason commented that there is currently a heavy litter problem in this area, and that we are looking to hire bilingual people as stewards.
b. West Hudson South Trails Committee. John Mack reported that, for the first half of 2016, committee volunteers have reported 2,100 hours of trail work, as well as about 500 hours of crew work, including preliminary work towards the installation of waterbars to improve the Anthony Wayne Trail, which is badly eroded. John Mack also reported that 210 blowdowns were removed by committee volunteers during this period. He noted that, about two months ago, there was a fire at Pine Meadow Lake that was traced to an illegal campfire. He questioned whether it is a good idea to remove illegal fire rings, pointing out that they at least provide a relatively safe place to build a fire. The comment was made that whether a fire ring should be removed depends on whether its location is a relatively safe place to build a fire.
c. West Hudson North Trails Committee. Patty Lee Parmalee commented that the fire at Sam’s Point in April was the major event that occurred in the West Hudson North region during the first half of 2016. She pointed out that the fire, which appears to have been caused by a careless hiker, took place at a time when volunteers were working on improving the Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail. Patty Lee Parmalee noted that, following the fire, Trail Conference volunteers assisted the Park in mitigating the damage caused by the firefighters in their efforts to limit the extent of the fire. Bob Fuller stated that the Park was very appreciate of our efforts and used our volunteers efficiently to provide leadership to other volunteers. He thanked all the volunteer trail crews who helped in this effort.
Patty Lee Parmalee reported that a new trail has been constructed to connect the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum with the Sackett Trail in Black Rock Forest. She also reported that the Chief of the Nor’westers (West Hudson North) Trail Crew has resigned, and that there are many trails in the West Hudson North region that do not have maintainers.
d. Long Distance Trails Crew. Chris Reyling reported that the projects worked on by the Long Distance Trails Crew during the first half of 2016 included an 0.2-mile relocation of the Long Path on Long Mountain, an 0.1-mile relocation of the Long Path at Ferguson Road, the installation of stepping stones on the Long Path at its crossing of Deep Hollow Brook in Harriman State Park, and the installation of bog bridging along the A.T. at Kloiber’s Field (just off West Mombasha Road in Orange County). He noted that the crew was able to salvage about half of the existing bog bridging in this area, and he also pointed out that a grant request was submitted to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for the cost of the new lumber needed. Finally. Chris Reyling reported that the Long Distance Trails Crew is currently working on an 0.2-mile relocation of the A.T. on Black Mountain in Harriman State Park, and he stated that this relocation is about 60% complete.
10. Trail Approval Process. John Mack discussed the procedures that need to be followed in the trail approval process. Patty Lee Parmalee stated that she believes that any trail added to the “SMS” list must be approved by the Regional Trails Council. However, Josh Howard stated that, the way the descriptions are presently written, the power to approve new trails resides in the local Trails Chair, but that it is preferable to inform the Regional Trails Council of all new trails.
11. Trail Updates and Approvals. The following new trails and relocations were presented:
a. Sterling Forest Redback Multi-Use Trail. John Mack explained the proposal for the Regional Trails Council to approve the Sterling Forest Red Back Trail (the southern portion of the proposed Eagle Mountain/Red Back Loop Trail). He noted that this is a multi-use trail open to hikers, bicyclists and equestrians, and he stated that much of this trail was built last fall and spring by AmeriCorps trail crews.
In response to a question by Bob Fuller as to whether a preliminary trail approval form was filled out before the work was begun on this trail, John Mack stated that since the work was performed under contract, rather than by volunteers of the West Hudson South Trails Committee, he believed that those responsible for the work should also be responsible for filling out the required forms. In response to a question by Patty Lee Parmalee as to where old forms are kept, Josh Howard stated that any forms submitted to the former Trails Council for consideration would be archived on the Trail Conference website or on the Trail Conference server.
In response to a question by Daniel Chazin as to why the Trail Conference became involved in this project to construct a multi-use trail (rather than using the AmeriCorps crews to improve or construct hiking-only trails in Sterling Forest), Josh Howard stated that since the work was performed pursuant to a contract with the State of New York, the State determines what work they want to have done and establishes the priorities for the work. Andrew Argeski questioned whether the Regional Trails Council should approve this multi-use trail. Sona Mason stated that the local Trails Chair was brought in from the beginning of the process and that he could have brought the trail before the Regional Trails Council at an earlier date had he chosen to do so. John Mack commented that there has been considerable disagreement with regard to this trail. He also stated that the Trail Conference retains the right not to adopt a trail or to discontinue maintenance of a trail if we do not want to continue maintaining it. In particular, he stated that it has not yet been determined whether the Trail Conference will adopt the eastern section of the Eagle Mountain/Red Back Loop Trail, which has not yet been completed.
After further discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Red Back Multi-Use Trail in Sterling Forest State Park be adopted by the Trail Conference.
b. Sterling Forest Eagle Mountain/Redback Loop Trail. Erik Mickelson explained to the Regional Trails Council the progress made by AmeriCorps crews on the construction of the remainder of the Eagle Mountain/Red Back Loop Trail in Sterling Forest State Park. He noted that the State has already approved the route of the eastern section of this trail, which will be used by hikers and bicyclists only (horses will not be permitted on this section of the trail), and that the western section largely follows an existing woods road. Erik Mickelson stated that the Trail Conference agreed to construct this trail because it was requested to do so by the State. He also noted that the priorities for work by the AmeriCorps crews in Sterling Forest were established jointly by the State, the Park and the Trail Conference, with both Jeff Hutchinson (the former Park Manager) and John Mack involved in the establishment of the priorities. Erik Mickelson stated that once work on this loop trail in Sterling Forest is completed, the AmeriCorps crews will next work on the reconstruction of a section of the hiking-only Bare Rock Trail that presently follows an eroded woods road.
John Mack commented that he is not sure whether he would send volunteers from the West Hudson South Trails Committee to work on this project if it not completed by the AmeriCorps crews. Several members of the Regional Trails Council stated that they would oppose adoption by the Trail Conference of any multi-use trails in Sterling Forest on which bicycles and horses are allowed. Erik Mickelson stated that nearly 50% of the trails in Sterling Forest State Park are multi-use, and he commented that we need to provide some trails on which bicyclists can ride. Sona Mason stated that mountain bike volunteers have participated in building these trails.
John Mack stated that the issue of multi-use trails is being considered by the Policy Committee. He noted that a draft multi-use policy has been prepared and sent to some staff members, and he stated that the draft will be reviewed again by the Policy Committee and eventually brought before the Regional Trails Council. John Mack commented that the issue of multi-use is very controversial and that it is difficult to make everyone happy.
Bob Fuller stated that the West Hudson Regional Trails Council would have a discussion on multi-use trails at its October meeting. He also commented that the Board had approved the Trail Conference’s accepting certain contractual work, and he noted that this issue would also be discussed by the Regional Trails Council at a later date.
Patty Lee Parmalee read a statement from the current Trail Management Guide to the effect that, “in general, the Conference maintains hiking trails.” Erik Mickelson stated that he has done his best to design the multi-use trails in Sterling Forest by adding turns and reducing grades, so that one cannot ride bicycles on these trails faster than 15 miles per hour. Bob Fuller commented that many people believe that Erik Mickelson has done an excellent job in designing these trails.
c. New Connector Trail between Hudson Highlands Nature Museum and Black Rock Forest. Sona Mason explained the route of the new connector trail between the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum and the Sackett Trail in Black Rock Forest. It was noted that this new trail includes both a 1.0-mile white-blazed loop trail and an 0.8-mile red-blazed trail that extends up to the Sackett Trail, and it was stated that both trail segments are named after donors to the museum.
Sona Mason noted that this new connector trail, which has excellent views, was built by volunteers from the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum, and she pointed out that the maintainers for the trail are supplied by the museum. John Mack commented that if a new trail is built by volunteers, these volunteers often want to maintain the trail, but that this doesn’t happen when trails are built pursuant to a contract. Todd Jennings pointed out that this new trail opens up a new parking area for Black Rock Forest, which has limited parking opportunities.
After discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the new connector trail between the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum and the Sackett Trail in Black Rock Forest be adopted by the Trail Conference.
d. Link between Scenic Trail and Mud Pond Trail in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Patty Lee Parmalee explained this proposal to construct and blaze a short trail segment that would connect the existing Mud Pond Trail, which is basically a woods road, with the Scenic Trail. She commented that the proposed new trail segment is located in a very remote area, and she noted that it takes at least 40 minutes to walk from the nearest parking area to the start of the Mud Pond Trail. She also stated that the Park wants to maintain the Mud Pond Trail as a road for emergency vehicles, and that at present it is marked with the Park’s own blazes (which are tiny and sparsely placed). It was noted that the proposed new trail segment is shown on the current edition of Map 104 of our Shawangunk Trails map set as a dotted line, but that it was shown as a solid line on the map presented at this meeting. Patty Lee Parmalee stated that the new trail segment has already been flagged and clipped. Sona Mason stated that the only thing not yet completed is the blazing, but Patty Lee Parmalee stated that she thought that some other work might also remain to be completed.
After discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the short extension of the Mud Pond Trail in Minnewaska State Park Preserve to connect with the Scenic Trail be approved.
12. Trail Design Standards. John Mack briefly reviewed with the Regional Trails Council the proposed Trail Design Standards, and he pointed out that these standards were arrived at by a committee of nine people that included three staff members, as well as three members of the West Hudson Regional Trails Council (John Mack, Chris Reyling and Bob Fuller).
Daniel Chazin expressed concern as to the impact of these standards. He questioned whether contractual workers would be hired to improve all trails deemed not to meet the standards, and he also questioned whether every new trail adopted by the Trail Conference would be required to meet these standards. In response, Bob Fuller stated that the standards are only guidelines and are not absolute requirements. John Mack commented that many trails in Harriman State Park (which, he stated, seem to fall between Class 2 and Class 3) do not conform to these proposed standards.
Josh Howard stated that the proposed design standards are construction standards, not maintenance standards, and he commented that, if a trail needs to be repaired, we should try to achieve these standards. He noted that these standards were derived from the standards established by the U.S. Forest Service, with some modifications made by the committee. He also stated that these standards will not necessarily apply to every trail section.
Bob Fuller noted that the Park has asked the Trail Conference to improve the Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail, since usage of that trail by novice hikers has increased in recent years. Patty Lee Parmalee commented that the proposed design standards do not address the usage of trails by bicyclists or equestrians.
John Mack requested that all comments on these proposed design standards be submitted to him by September 16th so that he can review them and present them to the Policy Council. Chris Reyling noted that the Policy Council is also working on maintenance standards for trails.
13. Budgetary Requests. Bob Fuller stated that he had asked all committee chairs to come to tonight’s meeting prepared to discuss their budgetary requests for 2017. He noted, however, that a number of trail chairs and crews chiefs are not represented at tonight’s meeting.
Patty Lee Parmalee stated that she is not aware of any budgetary needs of the West Hudson North Trails Committee, since the Park generally supplies all needed materials for work projects, and funds would be required only for a recognition event for her volunteers.
John Leigh distributed a sheet entitled “Local Trail Committee Chair Planning Guide.” He stated that this document is designed to assist volunteers in determining the various categories of items for which they need support.
John Mack noted that he includes Jeremy Apgar’s staff time, as well as the cost of obtaining specialized trail blazes, in his budgetary requests. Bob Fuller commented that training expenses should be included in the budgetary requests submitted by the West Hudson Regional Trails Council.
Josh Howard stated that the Regional Trails Council should be aware that the Board approves not just a budget, but a “Plan and Budget.” He commented that we need to determine what the priorities of the organization are, and he noted that such priorities could include the filling of vacancies in maintainers and trail chairs.
Chris Reyling reported that the Long Distance Trails Crew should be treated as a Local Trails Committee for purposes of the budgetary process. He noted that the crew has prepared a preliminary budget that includes tools, maintenance, entertainment, and new crew shirts (which assist in retaining volunteers), and he stated that the estimated total amount of this budget is about $2,000.
Daniel Chazin pointed out that the $2,000 estimated budget request of the Long Distance Trails Crew is a tiny fraction of the $2 million budget of the Trail Conference. He commented that, in his view, supporting the efforts of volunteers should be the highest priority of the Trail Conference, and he stated that, in his capacity as a Board member, he would oppose any proposal to cut the budget requests submitted by volunteer trail committees. Patsy Wooters stated that she was not aware of any cuts having been made by the Board to requests submitted by volunteer trail committees. In response, Daniel Chazin commented that the budgets are prepared by the staff and submitted to the Board for approval, and that specific budget requests submitted by volunteer trail committees are not generally discussed by the Board.
14. Report of Publications Committee. John Mack reported that the new 17th edition of the Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails map set is now available in both digital and print format, and that the new edition of the Sterling Forest map should be ready to send to the printer in about three weeks, subject to the availability of Jeremy Apgar to make the necessary corrections.
15. Volunteer Recruitment. Daniel Chazin noted that, at the June meeting of the West Hudson Regional Trails Council, John Leigh had reported that only about 3% of those who have expressed interest in volunteering for the Trail Conference actually do so. Daniel Chazin commented that he was shocked by this figure and stated that this percentage is unacceptably low. He stated that he believed that the increased recruitment of volunteers should be the highest priority of the organization. Marek Stycos noted that he had some ideas as to the most effective methods of recruiting new volunteers. He also commented that volunteers don’t like to be micro-managed, but that there needs to be some kind of reporting mechanism to show the value of what we are doing and to maintain standards. It was agreed that the issue of volunteer recruitment would be discussed at greater length at the October meeting of the West Hudson Regional Trails Council.
16. Locations and Dates of Future Meetings. Bob Fuller announced that the next meeting of the West Hudson Regional Trails Council will be held at the Trail Conference headquarters at the Darlington Schoolhouse in Mahwah on Wednesday, October 5th. He pointed out that additional meeting time is required to consider the many items on the agenda of the West Hudson Regional Trails Council. After discussion, it was agreed that future meetings of the West Hudson Regional Trails Council would last half an hour longer (until 9:00 p.m.). Daniel Chazin commented that time could be saved if detailed information on some items, such as trail approvals, were submitted in writing to the members of the Regional Trails Council prior to the meeting.
17. The meeting was adjourned at 8:31 p.m.
Daniel D. Chazin
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