Trails Council Meeting - February 6, 2014

Date: 
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Committee: 
Trails Council
Agenda: 

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council
February 6, 2014

5:30 PM – Networking

6:30 PM – Meeting begins

(Severe Weather Date – Thursday, February 13, 2014)

 

Agenda

 

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.

 

Welcome                                                                                                                                             

  • Introductions:
  • Announcements:
    • Appointment of new Co-Chairs for the Southern Catskills Region (Jeff Senterman) 
  • Approval of minutes:
  • Additions to agenda:

 

Reports                                                                                                                                                

 

  • Board Chair Remarks (Chris Connolly)
    • All Trail Chairs re-appointed on 1/28 (Chris Connolly)
    • Glenn Oleksak as new Trails Chair - for first time in years that all chair positions are filled (Chris Connolly)
    • Conservation
    • Publications
    • Volunteer Committee
    • Web Team Report
    • Staff Reports
      • Programs Update (Jeff Senterman)

 

Trail Approvals and Updates – 5 minute time limit per presentation. Trail update form and map of change must be submitted prior to the meeting:

 

  • Background on negotiations with CT-AMC; maintenance of an AT section which comes back into NY from CT before leaving NY for good (Jim Haggett)
  • Request for name change at Teatown: remove Northwest Trail (yellow) blazes which are co-aligned with the Briarcliff Peekskill Trailway (green) and a portion of the Teatown Kitchawan Trail (purple) (Jane Daniels)
  • Approval of Dover Stone Church Preserve for adoption (Salley Decker)
  • Adoption of existing Long Swamp trail in Sterling Forest (John Mack)

 

For Discussion:

  • Re-structuring of Trails Council (Jane Daniels)

 

Old Business

___________________________________________________________________

Sandwiches and beverages will be served. Donations 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: 
Draft
Minutes: 

MINUTES OF A MEETING

of the

TRAILS COUNCIL

of the

NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY TRAIL CONFERENCE

 

December 5, 2013

 

          1.  Trails Council Chair Gary Haugland called the meeting to order at 6:38 p.m. at the Trail Conference office in Mahwah, N.J.  Present were: Ed Goodell - Executive Director; Josh Howard - Deputy Executive Director; Jeff Senterman - Senior Program Coordinator; Hank Osborn - East Hudson Program Coordinator; Peter Dolan - New Jersey Program Coordinator, Daniel D. Chazin, Chris Connolly, Jane Daniels, Walt Daniels, David Day, Monica Day, Salley Decker, Jakob Franke, Gary Haugland, Gaylord Holmes, Sam Huber, Howie Liebmann, John Mack, John Moran, Joel Pinsker, Chris Reyling, Jeff Roggenburg, Keith Scherer, Karen Schoof, Andrew Seirup and Fred Stern.

 

          2.  Announcements.

 

                   a.  New Jersey A.T. Co-Chair.  Gary Haugland announced that Pete Zuroff has been appointed Co-Chair of New Jersey Appalachian Trail Committee.

 

                   b.  Supervisor Training Workshops.  Gary Haugland announced that three supervisor training workshops have been scheduled for the near future.  Gaylord Holmes stated that he attended a recent supervisor training workshop and found it very useful.  Jane Daniels explained that these are full-day workshops, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and continuing through 3:30 p.m., with a lunch break, and that they are all hands-on, with case studies, problem solving and discussion.

 

          3.  Minutes.  The minutes of the Trails Council meeting of October 3, 2013 were approved, with one correction.

 

          4.  Reports.  The following reports were presented:

 

                   a.  Report of Conservation Committee.  Jakob Franke reported that the Conservation Committee requested the Board to approve the Trail Conference’s participation in the purchase of several parcels of land along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail adjacent to Huckleberry Ridge State Forest that would permit the Shawangunk Ridge Trail to cross the Metro-North Railroad and follow the rural Shin Hollow Road instead of running along the railroad right-of-way.  He noted that, at its meeting earlier this week, the Board approved our participation in this transaction.


          Ed Goodell stated that he recently spoke to an individual from New Jersey who is interested in working on the Conservation Committee.

 

                   b.  Report of Publications Committee.  Daniel Chazin reported that the new edition of the Shawangunk Trails map set, which incorporates significant changes and improvements, is now available, and that the new edition of the North Jersey Trails map set is almost ready to be sent to the printer.  He also noted that the new digital edition of the South Taconic map is scheduled to be printed this spring and that new editions of the East Hudson and Hudson Palisades map sets will be printed later in 2014.  Finally, Daniel Chazin reported that his new Hike of the Week book has been printed and is now available and that new editions of the Walkable Westchester and Hiking Long Island books, as well as the new Circuit Hikes in Harriman book by Don Weise, are scheduled to be printed in early 2014.

 

                   c.  Web Team Report.  Walt Daniels reported that we have had many requests for online reporting.  He stated that a prototype has been developed, although it has limitations, and he noted that work is being done to improve this online reporting system.

 

                   d.  Report of Senior Program Coordinator.  Jeff Senterman explained that Les Ferguson is willing to continue with the Trail Worker but is frustrated because he has not received sufficient content to publish an issue.  Walt Daniels pointed out that ATC publishes a similar publication called The Register, and they have experienced similar problems.

 

          Jeff Senterman also announced that Ama Koenigshof is offering several workshops on accessible trails.  He also asked trail volunteers to contact John Leigh with any problems relating to the SMS reports and to inform him of any vacancies.  Jeff Senterman stated that we are working on arranging for Wilderness First Aid training in the West Hudson/North Jersey areas.  He also announced that on Tuesday night, the Board approved the 2014 budget, and he encouraged all Trails Chairs to meet with their Program Coordinators to discuss the budget.

 


          5.  Presentation on Trail Crew Development and AmeriCorps.  Josh Howard delivered a PowerPoint presentation on Trail Crew Development and AmeriCorps.  His presentation explained the various ways that the Trail Conference has responded to our partners’ requests to build and repair trails.  He also explained the operation of the AmeriCorps trail crews and the reasons for the Trail Conference to utilize AmeriCorps interns, including improving communications and relationships with agency partners, enhancing our reputation as a premier trail building organization and training additional volunteers.  He noted that each AmeriCorps participant makes a commitment for 900 hours of service in a 24-week period and is paid a stipend and provided with housing for this period.

 

          Josh Howard stated that the AmeriCorps trail crews would be supervised by the Program Coordinators in each region, who would spend 20% of their time serving as Project Manager and Facilitator for the AmeriCorps interns within their region, as well as by a Field Manager, who would be spending 70% of his time supervising the AmeriCorps crews.  He also stated that projects will be contingent on priorities identified by park managers and by regional volunteer trail leaders, and that we will do only work that we believe should be done.  He stated that the program is not meant to replace current trail crews but to develop additional volunteer-led crews.

 

          Josh Howard stated that the work season will extend from May 1st to October 15th, and that the interns will be spending one day a week at the Trail Conference office and work in the field for four days a week.  He explained that the proposed sites include the Palisades Region, Taconic Region, Bear Mountain State Park, Northern New Jersey along the pipeline, and the Invasive Species Strike Force.  He also set forth possible ways to measure the success of the program, and he pointed to the Jolly Rovers and the Long Distance Trail Crew as past examples of successful projects.  Finally, Josh Howard stated that if the Trail Conference chooses not to participate in these programs, other organizations will participate, and this will diminish the role of our organization.

 

          In response to a question by Gary Haugland, Ed Goodell stated that the crew that we ran this year in Sterling Forest was requested by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, who contacted us and stated that they wanted to allocate funds to improve backcountry trails.  He stated that they were apparently pleased with the work we did this year in Sterling Forest and have approached us about expanding the program to East Hudson.  He also stated that the work in the Ramapos will be funded with pipeline mitigation funds.

 

          In response to a question by Keith Scherer, Ed Goodell stated that the scope of the work to be performed with the pipeline mitigation funds is quite broad and can encompass trails in any park traversed by the pipeline, even if the trail in question is not adjacent to the pipeline.  In response to a question by John Mack, Josh Howard stated that the Field Manager will support dedicated crews in the Palisades, Taconic and Ramapos, that Linda Rohleder will supervise the Invasives Crew and that a new part-time manager will supervise the trail work at Bear Mountain.

 

          Monica Day stated that she does not consider interns who receive a stipend to be volunteers.  She also commented that it had previously been agreed that Trail Crew Chiefs could determine whether they wanted to have interns work in their area.  Monica Day stated that if the interns show up in any park where her trail crew works without prior consultation with her crew, she will cease working for the Trail Conference.  Ed Goodell commented that the Ramapo Trail Crew is not operated pursuant to a contract and is totally discretionary, so that if the West Jersey Trail Crew does not want them to work in Wawayanda, that is fine.  Josh Howard stated that each crew would be composed of four members, including a crew leader.

 

          In response to a question by Walt Daniels, Ed Goodell stated that the Ramapo Trail Crew is different from the others in that it is funded by pipeline mitigation funds and is intended to build a relationship with Ramapo College.  He commented that the initial effort will involve outreach with student groups at the college, and that some students might be offered paid internships for the summer.  Walt Daniels commented that his daughter led a paid trail crew at Dartmouth College, which is an ongoing trail crew that has been established at least since the late 1950s.  Ed Goodell also stated that we need to reach out to the younger generation.

 

          Ed Goodell stated that we are not certain that we can create new all-volunteer trail crews as a result of this program.  He stated that we had modest success establishing such crews as a result of the Bear Mountain Trails Project, but that no other trail crews have been created within the entire period that he has served as Executive Director of the Trail Conference.  Jane Daniels stated that she disagrees with Ed Goodell in this regard and that she has established a model in the East Hudson area which, while not creating a formal trail crew, has resulted in much trail work being performed. 

 

          Jakob Franke commented that the Rockland County Parks Department has used AmeriCorps interns, and that he believes that they are considered volunteers.  Ed Goodell stated that both the state and federal governments consider AmeriCorps interns to be volunteers, which is important because under prevailing wage laws, we cannot hire employees under state contracts but we can engage volunteers to do the work.  He commented that if interns are working on a trail project, that ensures that work will be accomplished each day even if no volunteers show up.  He also commented that if we don’t utilize these intern crews, that would limit our ability to do heavy projects.  He pointed out that we now maintain 2,000 miles of trails and stated that we could do better if we can find ways to expand our capacity.

 


          David Day questioned whether we could use some of our expanded capacity to contact additional people in West Jersey to work on existing volunteer trail crews.  He stated that he has requested such assistance from the Trail Conference many times but has not received effective support from the Conference.  David Day also questioned who would be running an AmeriCorps crew if they did work in his region.  In response, Jeff Senterman stated that the staff would work with the volunteer crew in this regard, but John Mack stated that neither he nor his crew chiefs was asked to assist in developing the work log for the Sterling Forest Trails Project or in setting the standards for the project. 

 

          Ed Goodell stated that the Sterling Forest Trails Project did not start until the middle of the summer, thus not allowing us sufficient time to plan, and that the interns worked on the Doris Duke Trail because we were informed that there are no other problem areas in the park and we were required to build only new trails (rather than rehabilitating existing trails).  He also commented that because we were constructing new trails, the SEQRA process needed to be followed.  Ed Goodell stated that, this year, he intends to hire a Field Manager by January, thus making the process more efficient.

 

          John Mack stated that he strongly disagrees with Ed Goodell’s recollection of what took place in Sterling Forest this past summer and that he believes that the Sterling Forest park manager was not satisfied with our work or with the inventory that we conducted.  He further commented that the State could have not have formed an opinion on the inventory work because no one has seen the results of it.  In response, Ed Goodell stated that Nancy Stoner, from OPRHP’s Albany office, who was in charge of the project, has stated that she was pleased with our work and has asked the Trail Conference to do similar work in the East Hudson area. 

 

          John Mack stated that he cannot support the Sterling Forest contract or any other similar contracts unless the method of operation is changed, noting that only a single mile of trail was built in Sterling Forest during the entire summer.  He stated that even that work was not needed, since the trail had been approved before the trail crew started working, and the entire trail was not completed because too much time was spent on the wrong part of the trail.  He commented that he believes that we need to have a different direction with regard to this program.

 

          Jane Daniels expressed the view that contracts with the State should be written broadly to allow for greater flexibility as to the work that can be performed under the contract.  Monica Day commented she is very concerned with John Mack’s report, which indicated that he, as West Hudson Trails Chair had been marginalized with regard to the Sterling Forest Trails Project.  Daniel Chazin questioned how many volunteers who worked on the Sterling Forest Trails Project last summer would return this summer.

 


          Ed Goodell stated that our primary purpose in hiring the interns is to build an all-volunteer crew.  He stated that, over a five-year period, we will hopefully be able to attract and retain a sufficient number of volunteers to enable us to pull out the AmeriCorps crews, and that to do this, we need to build trails that are sustainable.

 

          Daniel Chazin commented that, in the past, the Trail Conference has employed staff to assist the volunteers, but that has now changed so that volunteers are recruited to assist the staff to carry out the projects that they have chosen.  He also pointed out that it is clear that the AmeriCorps intern program has resulted in significant conflicts between the staff and the volunteers.  Daniel Chazin stated that, as a Board member, he voted against approval of the budget, and he stated that he intends to vote against the approval by the Board of any contract to engage the services of AmeriCorps interns unless it has been demonstrated that the use of these interns has been endorsed by the local trail committees in whose regions they will operate. 

 

          Daniel Chazin compared the project, led by Andy Garrison and staffed almost entirely by volunteers, to construct over nine miles of the rerouted Long Path over Romer Mountain in the Catskills, with the Sterling Forest Trails Project, which employed interns to build a far less significant and less technically-complex trail in Sterling Forest State Park.  Jeff Senterman pointed out that the staff provided significant support to the Romer Mountain trail crew, but Daniel Chazin commented that if the proportion of volunteer time versus staff time in both projects is compared, the proportion of volunteer time would be far greater in the Romer Mountain project.  Ed Goodell pointed out that volunteer trail crews developed at Bear Mountain did a significant amount of work on the Romer Mountain project.

 

          Joel Pinsker stated that he is concerned that potential new volunteers will not want to volunteer when they see that work is being done by others who receive a stipend for their work.  Ed Goodell commented that we may achieve only one new crew volunteer per year, but that after five years we will have trained five people who now constitute a crew.  He stated that people return to trail crews because they enjoy their first experience with the crew and he stated that his commitment is to increase the number of volunteer hours each year.  Ed Goodell stated that when he first came to the Trail Conference we recorded about 25,000-30,000 volunteer hours per years and that we are now at 70,000 volunteer hours per year.

 

          Concerns were expressed that we are going “off the track” with these projects by departing from our volunteer model.  In response, Ed Goodell stated that we have many volunteers who have nothing to do with trail crews, but now the parks need us, and we are maintaining 700 more miles of trail than when he started as Executive Director of the Trail Conference.  He stated that he believes that the quality of our trails is getting degraded and that we need more trail crews to raise the level of quality of our trails.

 

          Walt Daniels commented that he does much work on the A.T., where the emphasis is to do the minimum required for resource protection, and he believes that on a much lighter used trail, the standards should be much looser.  In response, Ed Goodell stated that our approach is to construct a sustainable trail.  He also stated that ATC maintains about the same amount of trail mileage as we do but records about three times the number of volunteer hours.  Jane Daniels commented that the volunteers need to be consulted as to the projects that are selected.  She stated that the AmeriCorps program does have some advantages, provided that volunteers are involved with making decisions.

 

          David Day commented that volunteers who have worked on the Bear Mountain project have complained that the trail standards established at Bear Mountain were not being applied to projects worked on by the West Jersey Trail Crew, and on the other hand, requiring training creates a hurdle to volunteers who want to participate in his Trail Crew.

 

          John Mack then proposed the following motion, which was seconded by Walt Daniels:

 

All projects to be performed by intern crews, with or without volunteers, must be coordinated with and approved in advance by the responsible regional Trails Chairs and their supervisors, to be defined by said Chairs. 

 

That project work should conform to the general standard of the surrounding trails that are maintained under Trail Conference auspices.  That work be limited to only improvements necessary for hiker safety or protection of the resource, such as erosion control.  That use of stone steps are to be similarly restricted to need and not extended beyond need.  Where possible, if steps are considered necessary, attempt to create a more satisfactory tread by use of combined steps and terraces.

 

Side-hilling should be no greater than necessary, such as limited to trail width appropriate to the particular trail and location, and created as full bench unless required by the specific conditions. 

 

           Andrew Seirup commented that he believed the motion to be too restrictive in certain respects.  Peter Dolan commented that it is possible to have high standards for backcountry trails while still maintaining the primitive character of the trails.  Jeff Senterman commented that the most important factor is the direction taken by the agency partner and the standard that they wish to adhere to.  Walt Daniels commented that although we might have to accept the State’s desires in this regard, we should initially attempt to convince them to accept our position.

 

          Sam Huber said that he believes it is important for volunteers and staff to work together and he is disturbed that this resolution might make it difficult for the staff to work with the volunteers.  He proposed that the motion be tabled to the next meeting to allow greater time for consultation between volunteers and staff.

 

          After discussion, John Mack agreed to withdraw his motion.  It was agreed that a committee would be formed to formulate a revised version of the motion to present at the next Trails Council meeting.

 

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

 

                   a.  Long Path Relocation onto Towpath.  Jakob Franke explained the relocation of a section of the Long Path from Berme Road (just north of Minnewaska State Park Preserve) onto the parallel route of the old towpath of the Delaware and Hudson Canal (which subsequently became the right-of-way of a branch of the New York, Ontario and Western Railroad).  He noted that the relocated trail uses the girders of an abandoned railroad bridge to cross a stream, and he pointed out that this relocation is already shown on the new edition of Shawangunk Trails Map 104. 

 

          After a brief discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that this relocation of the Long Path to the towpath adjacent to Berme Road be approved by the Trails Council.

 

                   b.  Completion of Trail Work in Westchester County.  Jane Daniels reported that work has been completed on the relocation of a section of the Rocks Trail in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, between the Indian Rock Shelter and Raven Rocks, to avoid an eroded woods road.  She also announced that the new 1.9-mile-long Old Sib Trail in Mountain Lakes Park has been completed.  She explained that both of these projects had been previously approved by the Trails Council and that her report is for informational purposes only.

 

                   c.  South Taconic Trail.  Andrew Seirup outlined the route of a proposed six-mile extension to the south of the South Taconic Trail, which will cross land acquired by the State about six years ago.  He stated that three miles of the route have already been flagged and that an additional 1.5 miles of trail that will extend further south towards Rudd Pond is currently being scouted.  He also noted that the final 1.5 miles of the extended South Taconic Trail will incorporate existing trails that the Trail Conference does not currently maintain.  Andrew Seirup stated that he expects that all 4.5 miles of new trail will be approved by the spring, when construction will start.  He also pointed out that the new edition of the South Taconic Trail map is expected to be published before the extension of the South Taconic Trail is completed, and he stated that the extension will probably be shown on the new map as a proposed trail.  In response to a question by Daniel Chazin, Andrew Seirup stated that there is very little technical work to be done on the new trail, which should be constructed by local volunteers, with some assistance from the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew for rock work.

 

          After a brief discussion, it was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that this six-mile extension to the south of the South Taconic Trail be approved by the Trails Council.

 

                   d.  Adoption of Clove Creek Trail in Fahnestock State Park.  Chris Connolly reported that, at its October meeting, the Trails Council approved, by a vote of 13 to 5, the adoption by the Trail Conference of the Clove Creek Trail in Fahnestock State Park.  He explained that, since over 20% of the voting members of the Trails Council opposed the adoption by the Conference of this trail, under the Trails Policy, the trail had be presented to the Board for their approval.  Chris Connolly stated that, at its October meeting, the adoption of this trail was unanimously approved by the Board, with one abstention.  He commented that the Board was influenced by the fact that the park had requested the Trail Conference to adopt this trail and the local trails committee had approved its adoption, and also by the fact that, although designated as a multi-use trail, this trail would be useful to hikers.  Chris Connolly further stated that the Board did not establish any general policy but merely approved the adoption of this trail.

 

          7.  Replacement of Bridge at Long Pond Ironworks.  Peter Dolan reported that we have obtained funding for the replacement of the Sterling Ridge Trail bridge over the Wanaque River at Long Pond Ironworks that was washed away by Hurricane Irene in August 2011.  He explained that the new bridge will be at the same site as the old bridge, and that minimal concrete abutments will be constructed.  He noted that Ed Lenik, archeologist, does not foresee any problems and that we have a project manager from the Jolly Rovers.  Peter Dolan stated that we will soon be meeting with the Park Manager and that we hope that the bridge will be constructed next summer.  Karen Schoof stated that she hopes that we will be able to establish a target date for the completion of the bridge in the near future.

 

          8.  Next Trails Council Meeting.  The next Trails Council meeting will be held on Thursday, February 6, 2014.

 

          9.  The meeting was adjourned at 9:02 p.m.

 

                                                                             Respectfully submitted,

 

                                                                             Daniel D. Chazin