Trails Council Meeting - August 7, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Trails Council


New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council 
August 7, 2014

5:30 PM – Networking

6:30 PM – Meeting begins

(Severe Weather Date – Thursday, August 14, 2014)




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

Additions to agenda


  • Staff Report
  • Conservation
  • Publications
  • Volunteer Committee
  • Web Team Report



Special Presentations

  • The Annual Planning Process, Josh Howard
  • A Case Study of the Planning Process, David and Monica Day
  • Trail Inventory Program, Jeremy Apgar


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

  • Treason Trail-Long Path reroute, Jakob Franke
  • Connector trail at Manitoga, Mary Dodds
  • Back40 trail Relocation, Teatown, Mary Dodds
  • New AT  shelter, and side trails considerations at Fahnestock, Jim Haggett
  • Trail relocation and adoption at Turkey Mountain, Jane Daniels


For Discussion:

  • Outreach Activities, Jane Daniels and Jeff Senterman


Old Business


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

Directions: NY NJ Trail Conference: 156 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah, NJ

It is located on Route 202, near its intersection with Route 17. Coming from the south, take Route 17 to the Route 202 exit in Mahwah, and turn right at the bottom of the ramp.  The Trail Conference office is the first building on the left.  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 right at the bottom of the ramp, and cross under on Route 17. The Trail Conference is the first building on the left.


Status of Minutes: 

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council Meeting
June 5, 2014





The meeting was called to order at approximately 6:33pm.




In attendance: Gary Haugland, Trails Council Chair; Jeff Senterman, Trail Conference Senior Program Coordinator; John Leigh, Trail Conference Volunteer Coordinator; Hank Osborn, East Hudson Program Coordinator; Chris Connolly; Gaylord Holmes; Walt Daniels; Jane Daniels; David Day; Monica Day; Jim Canfield; Fred Stern; John Moran; Paul Makas; Bob Jonas; Glen Oleksak; Joel Pinsker; Suzan Gorden; Brian Sniatkowski; Keith Scherer; John Mack; Andrew Seirup; Anne Gardon; and Gail Neffinger.



  • National Trails Day – June 7


Jeff Senterman announced that there are a series of activities occurring throughout the Trail Conference coverage area for National Trails Day including opening the new section of Long Path in the Catskills; trail work in Minnewaska; volunteer opportunities with both the Palisade and Taconic region AmeriCorps Trail Crews; and that REI and the Trail Conference would be holding a joint event at Bear Mountain State Park that included yoga, hiking, trail work and invasive species removal.


  • 2015 Plan and Budget Review in August


Gary Haugland and Jeff Senterman announced that the Trail Conference is beginning the Plan and Budget process for 2015 shortly.  Program Coordinators will be working with each regional Trail Committee to set up planning meetings before the end of August.  Jeff said that committees will be receiving more information to help with the planning process prior to the August meetings and he looks forward to meeting with all of the committees.

Approval of minutes


The minutes of the April 3, 2014 meeting were approved as presented.  The motion was made and seconded, which was then carried by an unanimous vote.


Additions to agenda


There were no additions to the agenda.


The discussion item regarding a Trails Council member survey was removed from the agenda.




  • Program Coordinators


Jeff Senterman provided an update on the activities of the regional Program Coordinators and Trail Committees:

  • There will be Chainsaw Recertification Courses on 6/14 & 6/15.  These courses are for B certified sawyers needing recertifications
  • The second year of the Trail Conference’s Trail Steward program launched and has been very successful already on Breakneck Ridge.  The Stewards began working on Memorial Day Weekend.
  • Our AmeriCorps crews have gone through intensive training and are now working on trails in the Palisades region, Taconic region, Bear Mountain and with other volunteers.  Our AmeriCorps members assigned to our Invasive Species Program are also getting into the field and getting work done with our volunteers.
  • Program Coordinators and volunteer leaders have identified that there is a need for additional volunteers to be Trail Supervisors and Trail U instructors in many of our regions.
  • Work is being done to adopt our first trail network in Columbia County in the East Hudson region.
  • The Highlands Trail has obtained permission to move more of the trail onto New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) properties in the East Hudson Region.
  • Scouting work is occurring throughout Ramapo Valley Reservation in New Jersey and permissions have been obtained for several different work projects related to that scouting.
  • Our NJ Program Coordinator has been working closely with Ramapo College to engage college students in activities through working directly with professors.  He has been very successful in developing intern programs that provide students credit as an avenue to getting them engaged with our activities.  The professors have been very helpful in this regard.
  • Our NJ Program Coordinator has been working with our Advocacy Committee, volunteers and Ed Goodell on LG Headquarters/Palisades advocacy issues.
  • Trail Conference Volunteers, staff and park employees helped install the first of the informational trail bollards on the Lenape Trail in New Jersey.
  • The Long Distance Trail Crew (LDTC) installed a bridge on the Long Path near Wawarsing and has relocated the LP on the D&H Canal Towpath.  The LDTC has also been working on the Long Path relocation in the Catskills.  On the Appalachian Trail, the LDTC has commenced working on a 0.4 mile relocation on the West side of West Mountain.
  • Multiple Trail University workshops throughout our region already and many more are scheduled for this summer.
  • The Catskills Interpretive Center in Mount Tremper, NY is scheduled to break ground in August and the Trail Conference will be breaking ground at the same time on an interpretive trail network on the site.
  • The Trail Conference helped Margaretville in the Central Catskills design a recreation kiosk that prominently features our maps and includes links to buy our maps on smartphones.
  • The Trail Conference will be working with Prattsville in the western Catskills to develop a trail network to help revitalize this town that was decimated by hurricane Irene.
  • The Trail Conference is now a member of the steering committee of the Catskill Park Coalition, a group of nonprofits and organizations dedicated to increasing awareness of the Catskill Park and bringing more resources to the Park.
  • Conservation


There was no conservation report.


  • Publications


There was no publications report.


  • Volunteer Committee


There was no volunteer committee report.


  • Web Team Report


Walt Daniels reported that the web team met earlier in the week to begin discussing the planning that would be necessary for new website designs.


  • Invasives Update


There was no Invasives Update.


  • Injury Procedures: John Leigh


John mentioned that the spring 2014 reports are due to the office by August 1, 2014 and that he is working on fixing the SMS reports to ensure accuracy.  John asked Chairs to mark the use type of trails on the SMS reports when they are sent in.  John also said that there are volunteer t-shirts are available if anyone hasn’t received their supply of shirts.


John provided information the claims process for volunteer injuries.  He pointed out that volunteer coverage and procedures is determined by the park or location where the volunteer is working.  John explained that if the proper procedures are not followed, there is the potential that the land partner will not provide workers comp coverage.  John has created a series of handouts for each park we work in that provides the information, forms and instructions that are needed to properly cover volunteers under our agreements with land managers.  Copies of those handouts were distributed.  All Trails Chairs, Supervisors and Crew Leaders/Chiefs should have a copy of each set of procedures for each park that they work in.  Print copies will be made available upon request and electronic copies will be posted to the web.


John explained in the case of life-threatening emergencies (or urgent care emergencies), volunteer should go to the emergency room or the urgent care center.  Once there, tell the staff that this is a workman’s comp claim and do not give the hospital your personal insurance.  For non-life threatening emergencies, be sure to document the incident and submit the paperwork in case workman’s comp coverage is needed in the future for the injury.  In all instances, please contact your regional Program Coordinator or John Leigh at the Trail Conference office within 24 hours of the incident so that any incident can be properly document and the proper paperwork filed.


Special Presentations

  • Clarifying Board, Staff and Volunteer Roles in Decision Making: An Inclusive Approach, Anne Gardon


Chris Connelly introduced Anne Gardon, a consultant that was brought on by the Board of Directors to help work through difficulties that were occurring in the Trail Conference between volunteers, staff and the Board of Directors.  Anne has spent the last several months interviewing all parties individually and in groups.  Her goal is find an inclusive approach to clarifying board, staff and volunteer roles in decision making for the organization.


Anne has completed the 1st phase of her work and reported those findings to the Board of Directors.  She was asked to prepare a Phase 2 proposal using phase 1 findings as a springboard to help the organization move ahead in a collaborative process by the Board of Directors.


The focus of the presentation tonight was on the process of helping the entire Trail Conference to improve on what we already do very well and work out conflicts and issues that are holding us back.  Anne provided an overview of the process that she will be engaging in with the Trail Conference over the next approximately 9 months.  Anne provided a brief introduction about her approach as a consultant when it comes to working with nonprofit organizations.  The work will be a process of updating the organization so that the Trail Conference can realize the strengths of our hybrid volunteer and staff structure and bring the best of both worlds to the Trail Conference.


Anne has found that the vitality of the Trail Conference depends on a strong collaboration between volunteers and staff, an effective partnership between the Executive Director and the Board of Directors.  Anne stated that the desired outcomes of this process include: staff and volunteers becoming part of a single, integrated organization; members of the Board of Directors embracing their role; and leaders developing skills to foster collaborative decision making. 


Anne discussed the context for the Trail Conference, our legal, cultural and competitive cultures.  In the legal context, we are a non-profit organization where the Board of Directors is accountable for protecting the public interest on whose behalf it operates.  Our cultural context consists of our long, vibrant tradition of volunteerism and volunteer leadership which is and will remain a core component of its structure and culture moving forward.  Finally our competitive culture is the fact that the Trail Conference is under increasing competitive and regulatory pressures, where our partners have greater needs and more requirements for partnering with the Trail Conference.


Anne went over several key assumptions that drive and guide the work that she is doing.  Those assumptions includes that the Board of Directors will delegate responsibility for developing a proposal for a unified and integrated Trail Conference structure to a Steering Committee comprised of 13 members representing the board, staff and volunteers equally plus the Board Chair.  The Steering Committee will work within a highly collaborative process that includes input and consultation with Trail Conference’s diverse stakeholder groups, combined with intensive small group work by the Steering Committee members.  Finally, the Steering Committee will present a proposal to the Board of Directors for adoption or modification.   If the Steering Committee is not able to reach consensus, the Board will assume responsibility for finalizing a proposed structure.


Anne provided a brief overview of the general methods that she and her consultant team would be using to guide the Trail Conference through this process.  A key part of that process is developing a committee made up of members from the Board of Directors, Volunteer Leadership and the Trail Conference Staff.  Chris Connelly stated that he has asked Ed Goodell to provide staff recommendations and the Chairs of our volunteer committees for their recommendations and Chris will make the final decision of who will serve on this committee.


Anne asked the group to discuss amongst themselves the information that had been presented so far.  After a few minutes of discussion, she asked for some feedback.  That feedback included a hope that there be a sense of respect between all parties involved and that the process be honest and open moving forward.


  • Trails for All


Jeff Senterman provided a short update Trails for All/Trail Accessibility.  The presentation included information on the Federal Accessibility Regulations for Outdoor Recreation Areas.  Further information on this topic will be forthcoming in an article in the next Trail Walker from our Trail Builder Ama Koenigshof.  Workshops on accessible trails will also be held this fall.


The presentation provided an overview on people with disabilities (57 million currently) and that more and more of the population are looking for opportunities to get outdoors with the whole family.  In order to facilitate this access on Federal Lands and through Federal contracts, the Federal Government has developed the Federal Outdoor Development Area Accessibility Guidelines (ODAAG).  The guidelines fall under the Federal Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which regulates accessibility on federal lands and in federal projects.  These guidelines do not encourage “paving our wild places,” but instead focusing on developing or rebuilding trails that are as accessible and sustainable as possibly.


There was some discussion following the presentation. Jeff invited everyone to read the article by Ama in the next Trail Walker and attend one of the upcoming accessible trail workshops that will be held this fall.  He pointed out that Ama is recognized as one of the leaders in this field, having recently been hired by the NYSDEC to teach accessible trail presentations to their staff.

Trail Approvals and Updates

  • Highlands Trail, Glenn Oleksak


The new trail would remove the Highlands Trail from a road walk along Route 605.  The new trail would generally follow old woods roads between Byram to Allamuchy Mt State Park.  The relocation would be a huge improvement for the Highlands Trail.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the relocation.  The motion passed unanimously.


The new section of Trail would relocate the Highlands Trail off of Mine Hill Road along with several other roads.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the relocation.  The motion passed unanimously.


The new section of the Highlands Trail near Hudson Farm would relocate the trail from a section where permission to route the trail was lost.  A motion was made and seconded to approve the relocation.  The motion passes unanimously.


A new section of the Highlands Trail near the Spruce Run Recreation Area would move the trail from a poor location along the edge of the water to provide a better hiking and walking experience.  The park has yet to approve the change, so this was just an informational update to the Trails Council.  Glenn said that he would seek approval after the park approved the change.


  • Appalachian Trail Relocation, Monica Day


The trail is located in High Point State Park and is a relocation of a side trail to the Rutherford Structure along the Appalachian Trail.  The Park asked for a trail relocation after a hiker slipped on the pre-existing side trail to the lean-to and sprained his ankle.  The new side trail provides a more gentle access to the shelter.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the park approved the change and the trail has been constructed.  A motion was made to approve the change and seconded.  The motion passes unanimously.


  • MacMillan Reservoir Trail, John Moran


Located in Mahwah, NJ this trail is located near the main entrance to the Ramapo Reservation and we have been asked by the park to adopt and improve this trail.  The trail is about an eighth of a mile in length.  A motion was made and seconded to adopt the trail.  The motion passed unanimously.

For Discussion

  • Chainsaw Committee: Proposed Curricula for Sawyers and Swampers, Gary Haugland & David Day


Gary provided a quick overview on the work of the Chainsaw Subcommittee on identifying sawyers that are certified and when those certifications expire or need to be renewed.


David Day provided an overview of the issues surrounding training volunteers to be certified in chainsaw use.  He explained how it was difficult to identify and retain trainers for the workshops.  He also explained that many of the people that currently take the course do not volunteer to provide chainsaw services to the Trail Conference.


The chainsaw subcommittee is working to find alternatives to training more people and getting more people involved in chainsaw work.  They have created two new courses that will help better educate sawyers.  The 1st is an awareness course for sawyers and swampers and creates a filter for students who may not be committed to going through multiple courses to obtain their certification.  Those students then would take the current certification course.  The third course would be to support A Sawyers who have already been certified by partnering them with B sawyers so they can work on their sawing skills and then become B certified sawyers.

A motion to close the meeting was made, seconded and passed unanimously at 9:06pm.