Trails Council Meeting - April 2, 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Trails Council

If the Schoolhouse parking lot is full when you arrive, overflow parking will be in the Ramapo Valley County Reservation parking lot immediately south of the Darlington Schoolhouse on Ramapo Valley Road - the church across the street has requested that we not use their lot. Please print a parking pass and have it visible in your windshield so that Bergen County knows you are not parking overnight. We will also have printed copies if you need them upon arrival. The Reservation parking lot is a short (under 5-minute) walk down a path from the Darlington Schoolhouse parking lot. Having a flashlight or headlamp handy would be a good idea! 


New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council 
April 2, 2015

5:30 PM – Networking

6:30 PM – Meeting begins

(Severe Weather Date – Thursday, April 16, 2015)

 *Please note the meeting location at the new Darlington Schoolhouse, and the severe weather reschedule date being two weeks later instead of the customary one.*


 The Trails Council is a forum for discussing trail-related projects and concerns as well as sharing information and strategies. It makes decisions concerning adoption of new trails, blazing procedures, and matters that directly affect the building and maintenance of hiking trails. Voting members are the council chair, trails chairs, supervisors, trail crew chiefs, and crew leaders. Club trail representatives and visitors are welcome at these meetings, routinely held on the first Thursday of even numbered months, except when inclement or hazardous weather causes cancellation.  In which case, the "severe weather" meeting will be rescheduled for the Thursday of the following week.  Please submit items at least one week before the meeting. We will try to accommodate late submissions if there is time.


Note: All items requiring a vote must be submitted in advance in writing so that we have an accurate record in the minutes.





Approval of minutes


  • Conservation
  • Publications
  • Volunteer Committee
  • Web Team Report
  • Trail Standards Task Force Report - John Magerlein


Trail Approvals and Updates – 5 minute time limit per presentation.

  • Trail Relocation: Highlands Trail - Glenn Oleksak/Sona Mason
  • Trail Update: Red Dot Trail - Ron Luna
  • Trail Update: Toddler Trail - Ron Luna

Special Presentations

  • Equestrian Trail Use Presentation - Todd Wolf


For Discussion:


Old Business


Sandwiches and beverages will be servedDonations to cover costs are greatly appreciated

Directions: NY NJ Trail Conference: 600 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah, NJ

It is located on Route 202, at its intersection with Darlington Ave. Coming from the south, take Route 17 to the Route 202 exit in Mahwah, and turn left at the bottom of the ramp.  Continue two miles, and the building will be on your right at the intersection with Darlington Avenue (shortly after passing Ramapo College).  Coming from the north, take the New York Thruway to Exit 15A and continue south on Route 17.  Take the exit for Route 202 (the second exit on Route 17), turn left at the bottom of the ramp, continue two miles, and the building will be on your right at the intersection with Darlington Avenue (shortly after passing Ramapo College).

Status of Minutes: 


of the


of the



February 5, 2015


          1.  Board Chair Chris Connolly called the meeting to order at 6:33 p.m. at the Trail Conference office in Mahwah, N.J.  Present were: Jeff Senterman - Senior Program Coordinator; Ama Koenigshof - Trail Builder/Educator; John Leigh - Volunteer Coordinator; Peter Dolan - New Jersey Program Coordinator; Sona Mason - West Hudson Program Coordinator; Andrew Argeski, Rose Bonanno, Daniel D. Chazin, Chris Connolly, Jane Daniels, Walt Daniels, David Day, Jack Driller, Bob Fuller, Gary Haugland, Rick Levine, Howie Liebmann, Mark Liss, John Mack, John Magerlein, Gail Neffinger, Chris Reyling, Keith Scherer, Frank Schoof, Robert Segal, Andrew Seirup and Fred Stern.


          Chris Connolly reported that Gary Haugland has decided to step down as Chair of the Trails Council and that the Board has appointed John Magerlein as the new Trails Council Chair.  Chris Connolly thanked Gary Haugland for his service as Chair of the Trails Council.


          2.  Minutes.  The minutes of the Trails Council meeting of December 4, 2014 were approved as submitted. 


          3.  Reports.  The following reports were presented:


                   a.  Report of Publications Committee.  Daniel Chazin reported that the new edition of the Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails map set has been sent to the printer.  He stated that the anticipated printing date is this coming Monday and that the map should be available about a week later.  He pointed out that, for the first time, this new edition of the map will include trail mileages on the face of the map.


          Daniel Chazin also reported that Don Weise’s Circuit Hikes in Harriman book is almost ready to be sent to the printer, and he stated that the book should be available in March or April.


                   b.  Report of Volunteer Committee.  Jane Daniels reported that we will continue to offer Trail Conference t-shirts to volunteers and that we will be sending out postcards for National Volunteer Week.  John Magerlein commented that the distribution of the t-shirts did not go well in his area last year, in response to which John Leigh stated that this matter would be discussed further at the next Volunteer Committee meeting.  John Leigh also stated that updated SMS reports would be sent out to the Supervisors so that the proper number of t-shirts can be provided to everyone.  In response to a question, John Leigh stated that the Volunteer Committee was looking into subsidizing the cost of wicking t-shirts for trail crews every few years.


                   c.  Web Team Report.  Walt Daniels reported that the cost of redesigning the website ended up being higher than we had anticipated.  As a result, he stated, we will have engage in fundraising for the improvement of the website.  Walt Daniels stated that the total cost of the website upgrade has been estimated at about $200,000.  However, he noted that this sum includes a significant amount of volunteer time, so the actual cash outlay will be less.


          4.  Insurance for Volunteers.  John Leigh gave a presentation on the requirements for insurance for volunteers.  He explained that volunteers in the Catskills (lands administered by DEC) and in state parks in New York State are covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance, and that volunteers in national parks are covered under the Volunteers in the Parks program.  All volunteers in other parks (including the section of the Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey), he noted, are covered by Trail Conference insurance.  John Leigh explained which applications need to be completed by each volunteer and how often these applications need to be filled out.


          John Leigh stated that it is necessary to complete an application each year for each New York State park one works in, although Chris Reyling stated that he believes it is necessary to fill out only a single form for each region.  John Leigh also stated that each volunteer will soon be receiving a letter informing him or her of the forms that must be filled out.  He also explained that crew rosters need to be turned in for Trail Conference files as they may be requested as proof of attendance at the crew trip.  John Leigh also outlined the steps that need to be taken in the event of an injury, including contacting a Trail Conference staff member, as well as the park, and filling out a Personal Incident Form.


          Chris Connolly and John Leigh stressed that all accidents need to be reported as soon as possible, but David Day stated that it was untenable to report all very minor injuries.  It was agreed that any injury that requires medical treatment must be reported.  John Leigh stated that we cannot make any representations as to what insurance will cover.  The question was raised as to whether one could choose not to file a claim with the Trail Conference and instead use one’s personal insurance.


          John Leigh stated that he hopes that the above information would be made available online by the end of February.


          5.  Presentation on Conservation Corps.  Ama Koenigshof stated that the first project that involved the hybrid model of professional trail builders leading volunteers was the Wappinger Falls project, and she stated that the same model was used for the Bear Mountain Trails Project beginning in 2006.  However, she said, this ended up not being enough, and that since 2006, we have had AmeriCorps members working on the Bear Mountain project.  She stated that the Bear Mountain project has been very successful and that it led to the development of the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew, which is now a Trail Conference member club.  She also stated that Chris Reyling’s crew was partially formed from the Bear Mountain Trails Project.


          Ama Koenigshof stated that the State of New York looked at the Bear Mountain Trails Project as a model of a successful project that involves volunteers and asked the Trail Conference to expand this model to other areas.  She noted that it might have been cheaper to do the project with only professionals and not to involve volunteers.  She also commented that some volunteers work with the AmeriCorps crews for only one day and never return.


          Ama Koenigshof stated that the Conservation Corps program is a formalization of what had been going on at Bear Mountain from 2006 to 2012, and she noted that the involvement of professional trail builders in the project decreased as AmeriCorps members took on a greater role.  She explained that AmeriCorps provides the opportunity for individuals to volunteer full-time in return for a stipend and an educational award.  She noted that we also provide housing for AmeriCorps members at the Welch Trail Educational Center in Harriman.


          Ama Koenigshof explained that we formerly obtained AmeriCorps members from Rockland County and the Student Conservation Association, but that we now obtain them from the Corps network, which is cheaper and allows us to have more control over who we select and the training that we provide.  She stated that AmeriCorps members apply to the Trail Conference in the same manner that one applies for a job.


          Ama Koenigshof stated that the AmeriCorps program is funded by two contracts with OPRHP and by funding from PRISM, Westchester Land Trust, REI and several private donors, and that there is Federal funding for the educational awards.


          David Day commented that in the past, volunteers were told that the AmeriCorps members were already trained, but he stated that, in general, this is not and never was the case.  Ama Koenigshof stated that some AmeriCorps members are already highly trained when they join the program but that others are not.


          Ama Koenigshof stated that last year was our first serious year with AmeriCorps and, by most accounts, it was great, although there were challenges and we made some mistakes.  She stated that this program is designed to attract additional volunteers and get them to come back.  She also noted that one Trail Crew Chief and several Supervisors have come from AmeriCorps members and the volunteers who worked with them.


          Ama Koenigshof stated that the AmeriCorps crews could help volunteer trail crews with their projects, but David Day stated that the problem with the AmeriCorps model is that most volunteer crews work one day a week, while AmeriCorps crews work five days a week, so that the volunteer crews cannot effectively utilize the AmeriCorps crews.


          In response to a question, Ama Koenigshof indicated that the volunteer experience with an AmeriCorps crew is not much different than that with an volunteer trail crew.


          Gary Haugland questioned how the projects worked on by the AmeriCorps crews are selected and how we measure the success of the program. He expressed concern that the program only enhances employment opportunities and does not expand the volunteer part of the program.  In response, Ama Koenigshof stated that the choice of the projects is dependent on how the crew is funded.  She stated that volunteer leaders and park managers provide lists of projects that they would like to be done, and that if there is a project that a volunteer trail crew does not want to do, that work could be done by an AmeriCorps crew.  However, she pointed out that the two OPRHP crews are designed to implement the parks’ master plans and that projects not included in the master plan would probably not be approved.


          With regard to managing success, she stated that the contract with the State specifies the number of volunteers and repeat volunteers that must be achieved, and that the contract states that trail work will be measured by linear feet.  She also stated that each contract contains a list of projects that can be worked on by the AmeriCorps crews.


          Sona Mason commented that peer groups tend to attract volunteers from the same group, so that AmeriCorps members who are young will attract young volunteers to the crews. 


          Bob Fuller expressed concern that certain Trail University classes are open only to those who intend to volunteer with the Bear Mountain project, and that the trail crew schedule is dominated by the AmeriCorps crews, which are sucking away volunteers from the traditional crews.  In response, Ama Koenigshof stated that she needs to recruit people who are willing to come back each weekend to get the Bear Mountain project done, and that she can’t let the class fill up with people who aren’t going to come back.  She stated, however, that if a volunteer trail crew gives her names of people they would like to take a course, she will allow them to sign up for these workshops even if the attendees do not intend to volunteer for the Bear Mountain Trails Project.  Sona Mason commented that AmeriCorps members are encouraged to run their own workshops.


          David Day commented that he has only turned away two people from his crew, and both of them came from the Bear Mountain Trails Project.


          5.  Trail Approvals.  The following new trails and relocations were presented:


                   a.  Teatown Lake Reservation. Jane Daniels stated that Teatown Lake Reservation is updating their trail network in order to reduce serious erosion, open a large, unfragmented area for conservation studies, minimize heavy maintenance areas, create an easy-to-follow route, minimize co-alignments, and utilize newly acquired property.  Jane Daniels pointed out that their first step is to modify the Back 40 Trail so that it will become a 2.3-mile loop.  She stated that the new route of the Back 40 Trail incorporates the former Shadow Lake Trail, a portion of the Waterfall Trail, and most of the Croft Trail.  She also noted that the section of the Shadow Lake Trail along a power line will be abandoned, and that the Waterfall Trail will be shortened from 0.3 mile to 0.2 mile.  After a brief discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that these modifications and realignments of trails in Teatown Lake Reservation be approved by the Trails Council.


                   b.  Relocation of A.T. North of Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park. Chris Reyling outlined a short relocation of the A.T. just north of Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park that would eliminate an eroded section.  He stated that the relocation involves about 0.2 mile of trail and does not materially affect the length of the trail.  Walt Daniels commented that there are several locations in the area where endangered species are known to exist.  After a brief discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the relocation of the A.T. north of Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State Park be approved by the Trails Council.


                   c.  Relocation of A.T. near Greenwood Mine in Harriman State Park.  Gail Neffinger outlined a proposed relocation of a short but steep and eroded section of the A.T. in Harriman State Park, just above the Greenwood Mine.  Chris Reyling noted that the distance involved is no more than 0.1 mile, and that the project has been approved by the Park and by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  After a brief discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the relocation of the A.T. above the Greenwood Mine in Harriman State Park be approved by the Trails Council.


                   d.  Bear Swamp Trail in Ramapo Mountains..   Peter Dolan explained the proposal to blaze an 0.6-mile-long woods road in Ramapo Valley County Reservation and Ringwood State Park as the Bear Swamp Trail, with red blazes.  He stated that the addition of this new trail would improve connectivity of trails in the area, and he indicated that there would be minor reroutes off of the woods road where needed to avoid wet areas.  After a brief discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Trail Conference of the Bear Swamp Trail in the Ramapo Mountains.


                   e.  Awosting Falls Connector Trail in Minnewaska State Park.  Sona Mason explained that Minnewaska State Park has requested the Trail Conference to blaze a short white-blazed trail, to be known as the Awosting Falls Connector Trail, that would connect the Peters Kill parking area with the Awosting Falls Carriage Road, thus improving access to the area of the park south of Route 44/55.  Daniel Chazin noted that this trail has already been blazed.  After discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Trail Conference of the Awosting Falls Connector Trail in Minnewaska State Park.


          6.  Drones.  Robert Segal urged the Trails Council to support a no-drone policy on parklands.  Sona Mason noted that OPRHP has adopted a rule that requires a permit for the operation of a drone on parklands, and she stated that in most cases, a permit will be denied.  It was agreed that this topic would be put on the agenda of a future Trails Council meeting.


          7.  Trail Standards.  Walt Daniels outlined the current status of trail standards.  He noted that although standards were proposed in 2010, they were never approved, and no work has been done on the standards since then.  He gave examples of various standards and noted that different standards are required for different trails.  He asked Trails Council members to provide examples of areas where standards are required, and the following were offered: ADA, primitive trails, trail clutter, segmentation, wetlands, types of uses allowed (hiker, bicyclists, etc.).

David Day commented that different parks have different criteria for trail construction through wetlands.  Chris Connolly suggested that if a major relocation is built, it should be examined a year later to determine how well it is holding up.


          After discussion, it was agreed that a committee, consisting of both staff and volunteers, would be established to consider adopting such trail standards. 


          8.  Next Trails Council Meeting.  The next Trails Council meeting will be held on Thursday, April 2, 2015.


          9.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:38 p.m.


                                                                             Respectfully submitted,


                                                                             Daniel D. Chazin

Trail Conference Parking Pass.doc130 KB