Trails Council Meeting - February 7th, 2013

Date: 
Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Committee: 
Trails Council
Agenda: 

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council
February 7, 2013

5:30 PM – Networking

6:30 PM – Meeting begins

(Severe Weather Date – Thursday, February 21, 2013)

 

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

o   I Love My Parks Day, May 4th – Jane Daniels

  • Approval of minutes 
  • Additions to agenda

Reports                                                                                                                                                

·         Conservation and Advocacy 

·         Publications

·         Volunteer Committee

·         Web Team Report

·         Staff Reports

 

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

·                                  Tallman Mountain Long Path Connector, Long Path South – Jakob Franke

·                                  Brook Connector Trail in Lamont Sanctuary – Chris Connolly

·                                  Yorktown Trails – Jane Daniels

·                                  Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park Trails – Jane Daniels

 

For Discussion

·         Sharing Best Practices of Engaging Maintainers and Supervisors – Jane Daniels

o   Training information & Supervisors 101

·         Updating Trail Crew Chief Summary Form – Chris Reyling

·         Trail Approval Process – Daniel Chazin

·         North Jersey Split – Jonathan Martin & John Moran

 

Old Business

·         Follow-up on Chainsawyer Policy and Procedures – Gary Haugland

·         Thoughts about how we handled Sandy – Daniel Chazin

___________________________________________________________________

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: 
Final
Minutes: 
MINUTES OF A MEETING of the TRAILS COUNCIL of the NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY TRAIL CONFERENCE   February 7, 2013             1.  Trails Council Chair Gary Haugland called the meeting to order at 6:33 p.m. at the Trail Conference office in Mahwah, N.J.  Present were: Ed Goodell - Executive Director; Jonathan Martin  - New Jersey Program Coordinator, John Bauer - West Hudson Program Coordinator, John Leigh - Volunteer Coordinator, Ama Koenigshof - Trail Builder and Educator, Jeff Senterman - Senior Program Coordinator, Estelle Anderson, Jill Arbuckle, Andrew Argeski, Daniel D. Chazin, Chris Connolly, Jane Daniels, David Day, Monica Day, Jakob Franke, Mark Fromm, Gary Haugland, Chris Ingui, Richard Jobsky, Bob Jonas, Mark Liss, John Mack, Mary Anne Massey, John Moran, Gail Neffinger, Glenn Oleksak, Patty Lee Parmalee, Joel Pinsker, Chris Reyling, Keith Scherer, Andrew Seirup, Rich Taylor and Bob Ward.             2.  Announcements.  The following announcements were made:                      a.  I Love My Park Day.  Jane Daniels announced that I Love My Park Day will be held on Saturday, May 4th, and she urged all those involved with New York state parks to schedule a special event on that day.  She noted that more information is available at www.ptny.org.                      b.  Bayswater Trail.  Bob Ward reported that the Bayswater Trail in Far Rockaway, N.Y. is intact, despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy, although New York City has installed a sewer in the area which cut the trail in two.                      c.  High Bridge.  Bob Ward reported that a ceremony was recently held to mark the commencement of the restoration of the historic High Bridge that carries the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River.  He noted that Mayor Bloomberg announced that the High Bridge should be open to pedestrians by September.             3.  Minutes.  The minutes of the Trails Council meeting of December 6, 2012 were approved as submitted.             4.  Reports.  The following reports were presented:                      a.  Report of Conservation Committee.  Jonathan Martin reported that the Conservation Committee is continuing to work with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey to identify possible trail lands that we might consider acquiring.  In addition, he stated, the Conference has received Green Acres funding to assist Bergen County in finding suitable parcels in the Ramapo Mountains that would provide additional access to the trail systems in the area, including the Hewitt-Butler Trail north of West Brook Road.  Jakob Franke noted that Orange and Rockland Utilities owns a large parcel of land that is traversed by the Long Path and the Highlands Trail, and he stated that we will be contacting them to see if we can obtain an easement for these trails.  Ed Goodell stated that we are negotiating a trail easement for a section of the Long Path adjacent to the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve in Schenectady County, near the Mohawk River.                      b.  Report of Publications Committee.  Daniel Chazin reported that the files for the new edition of the Catskill Trails map set will probably be sent tomorrow to our printer in Albany, and that new editions of the Sterling Forest and Harriman-Bear Mountain map sets will be printed next. In response to a question by Patty Lee Parmalee, he stated that the next edition of the Shawangunk Trails map set is scheduled to be printed in early 2014, and he pointed out that all changes should be brought to his attention or to that of Jeremy Apgar.                      c.  Report of Volunteer Committee.  Estelle Anderson reported that volunteer t-shirts should be ready for the next Trails Council meeting.  She noted that she needs to know the correct size for each recipient.  She also stated that the deadline for award submissions is July 1st.                                        d.  Report of New Jersey Program Coordinator.  Jonathan Martin stated that he is working with Jack Shuart of the New Jersey DEP to provide updates on the condition of the trails in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  He also reported that a chainsaw certification course was held on the weekend of January 26-27 at the New Jersey School of Conservation in Sussex County, N.J., and that 19 sawyers were certified.  He stated that the newly certified volunteers will be assigned to help clear blowdowns in areas where such work is needed, and he asked that anyone who knows of areas that need to be cleared of blowdowns contact him.  He also noted that the costs of the chainsaw training were paid for by a grant from the Dodge Foundation, and that he is working on arranging for a CPR certification course for the newly-certified chainsawyers.  He also stated that he hopes another chainsaw certification course will be held in March.  Jane Daniels expressed the hope that such a course could be held in the East Hudson area.             Finally, Jonathan Martin announced that all trails in Ringwood State Park are now closed due to the construction work on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.  He stated that the work on the pipeline is scheduled to be completed by April 15th, at which time the trails would be reopened.  Chris Ingui stated that our agreement with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company provides that the trails would remain open during construction, but Jonathan Martin indicated that the decision to close the trails was made by Ringwood State Park.                                                                    e.  Report of Senior Program Coordinator.  Jeff Senterman reported that, under the leadership of Andy Garrison, the Catskills Trail Crew has completed three and one-half miles of the new Romer Mountain Trail (which will replace a roadwalk on the Long Path), and he stated that an additional six miles of this trail are scheduled to be completed this spring and summer.  He noted that, last week, Ed Goodell spoke at a meeting in the Catskills on the economic impact of recreation on the Catskill Park.  He also reported that he and Ed Goodell participated in Catskill Park Awareness Day, which was held last Tuesday in Albany.  Finally, Jeff Senterman announced that there will be a lobbying day in Albany for the Environmental Protection Fund on March 5th.                                       f.  Report of West Hudson Program Coordinator.  John Bauer reported that he is getting acquainted with volunteers in the West Hudson area, and he welcomed everyone to contact him.                      g.  Report of Trail Builder and Educator.  Ama Koenigshof reported that we are fixing up the camp in Harriman State Park that the Trail Conference uses to house volunteers and interns.  She stated that we will be working on the camp every weekend in April, and she invited everyone to participate.  She also announced that the Bear Mountain Trails Project will start on May 4th, and she noted that training for volunteers (which is required) will be offered during all four weekends in May and on the first weekend in June.  She stated that technical rock work on the project will be done each Wednesday-Sunday, and that the project will focus on the Upper East Face of the A.T. on Bear Mountain and the Major Welch Trail.                     Ama Koenigshof requested that anyone who would like to see a particular course offered as part of Trail University should contact their Program Coordinator.  She announced that on Friday, March 15th, there will be a “brain dump” for Supervisors at the Trail Conference office.  She also announced that another “Train the Trainer” course will be offered on Fridays, March 29th and April 5th, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at a location to be determined., and she encouraged all those who have knowledge of trail skills and who might possibly want to teach a course in the future to sign up for this course, which will present new teaching techniques.  It was noted that a number of volunteers cannot make these dates because they fall during the work week, but it was pointed out that retired people may wish to take this course.  Jane Daniels and Ama Koenigshof then demonstrated to the Trails Council a training technique.                      h.  Report of Volunteer Coordinator.  John Leigh reported that, with 72% of the hours reported for the six-month period of July-December 2012, we have about 27,000 hours of volunteer hours identified.  He announced that everyone who performs trail work on lands under the jurisdiction of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is required to sign a volunteer agreement as a condition of receiving workers’ compensation benefits.  John Leigh also stated that we are trying to improve our volunteer intake process, and he requested that anyone who has feedback on this process should contact him.                                                                                             i.  Report of Executive Director.   Ed Goodell reported on the following items:                                i.  Construction of Trails on New York City DEP Lands.  He  announced that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has, in the past, insisted on a very onerous indemnity clause as a condition of establishment of Trail Conference trails across their lands.  He stated that we have been working with them on this issue, and that we seem to have reached an agreement that is acceptable from a legal risk point of view to the Board Counsel that would require any volunteer constructing a trail on their property to release the City of New York from liability for any injuries he may incur during the construction of the trail.  Ed Goodell stated that he does not like this condition, but is willing to accept it if approved by the Board.  Andrew Seirup stated that he would not object to signing such a provision, provided that he is covered by the Trail Conference insurance.  Gary Haugland commented that he did not believe that volunteers in general would object to signing a single piece of paper, as long as they need not sign it before each individual work trip.                                ii.  Proposed Agreement with New York State for Improvement of Trails in Sterling Forest State Park.  He reported he recently met in Albany with a high official of the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation who expressed great interest in moving ahead with a plan to fund a program that would improve trails in the backcountry of parks which have an approved trails plan to implement.  He stated that we hope to enter into an agreement with the State to create trail crews that would work in Sterling Forest State Park over a five-year period to implement their trails plan.  He explained that the proposal involves engaging AmeriCorps crews for the first few years, with Trail Conference volunteers working alongside these crews, and with the AmeriCorps crews gradually being replaced by Trail Conference volunteers.  John Mack stated that most of the trails in Sterling Forest are multi-use, which could create some concern.             Ed Goodell stated that the current leadership of New York state parks really cares about the backcountry in the parks and has encouraged park superintendents to seek out projects that provide for capital funds to be expended in the backcountry.  He stated that this is the first time that New York State has stated in a tangible way that they want to support our trail work, and he expressed the hope that, as a result of their experience with this project, we will have a more trail-friendly environment in New York state parks.             In response to a question by Mark Liss, Ed Goodell stated that these trail crews would do trail construction in Sterling Forest State Park, and he commented that he  believes that there is a significant part of the Sterling Forest Trails Plan that has not yet been implemented, or not been implemented well.             Monica Day commented that the morale of existing trail crews is low because they are feeling marginalized.  She stated that the West Hudson Trail Crew will be very upset if they are not involved with the proposed trail crew project in Sterling Forest.  Ed Goodell stated that he believes that our trail crews are the most important thing that our organization does, and that he wants to do whatever he can to improve the morale of the existing trail crews.             Jane Daniels noted that the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew exists because of a camaraderie among the crew members, and she commented that it is not possible to divide the crew members and move them onto other projects.  Patty Lee Parmalee commented that the West Hudson North Trail Crew has been without a leader for a number of years and is therefore essentially defunct.              Daniel Chazin pointed to the model of the all-volunteer Catskill Trail Crew led by Andy Garrison, where volunteers are highly motivated because of their great interest in completing the new Romer Mountain Trail.  He questioned whether work projects on multi-use trails in Sterling Forest are of the type that would motivate volunteers to participate in an ongoing trail crew.  In response, Ed Goodell stated that we will not work on inappropriate trail projects and we hope to be “on the inside” to steer the State to propose projects that we consider acceptable.                      j.  Web Team Report.  In the absence of Walt Daniels, Jonathan Martin reported on his behalf.  Walt Daniels’ report stated that, on their own initiative, the Jolly Rovers have produced a video on their work on the A.T. at Fitzgerald Falls and that it has been posted to the Trail Conference website.  The report pointed to the video as an example of something that volunteers can do to promote the Trail Conference and its volunteer program.  Jonathan Martin showed the video to the Trails Council and noted that Walt Daniels is actively seeking similar submissions.  He stated that anyone interested in creating a similar video should contact Walt Daniels or Georgette Weir.             5.  Trail Approvals.  The following new trails and relocations were presented:                      a.  Connector Trail in Tallman Mountain State Park.  Jakob Franke explained that the management of Tallman Mountain State Park has asked the Trail Conference to adopt an existing unmarked 0.3-mile connector trail that leads from the parking area of the park to the Long Path.  He noted that this trail would probably be blazed orange.  It was moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Trail Conference of this 0.3-mile connector trail in Tallman Mountain State Park.                      b.  Brook Connector Trail in Rockleigh Woods/Lamont Reserve (Alpine, New Jersey).   Chris Connolly outlined the route of the new 0.25-mile orange-blazed Brook Connector Trail, which closes the gap between the white and yellow trails in Rockleigh Woods/Lamont Reserve in Alpine, New Jersey.  Daniel Chazin commented that he has hiked this trail and believes that it nicely complements the trail network in this preserve.  Daniel Chazin also thanked John Moran, Jakob Franke and Chris Connolly for their dedicated work which made possible the improvement and expansion of the trail network in this beautiful area.  Chris Connolly also noted that a short section of the blue trail in the southern end of the preserve has been abandoned because it adjoins private property and terminates on a road where no parking is available.             It was then moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Trail Conference of the 0.25-mile orange-blazed Brook Connector Trail in Rockleigh Woods/Lamont Reserve in Alpine, New Jersey.                      c.  Yorktown Trails.  Jane Daniels proposed that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Trail Conference of ten miles of trails in four parks in Westchester County:                                i.  FDR State Park.  She requested the Trails Council give final approval to the following five trails which form a 5.1-mile trail system in the eastern section of FDR State Park: Green Trail (0.6 mile), Orange Trail (0.3 mile), Red Trail (0.5 mile), White Trail (1.9 miles) and Yellow Trail (1.8 miles).  She pointed out that preliminary approval was given to these trails at the Trails Council meeting of February 3, 2011 (at that meeting, it was stated that 3 miles of trails in FDR State Park were proposed for approval, but this figure was approximate).  She noted that these trails are open to mountain bikes, but that they rarely use them.                                ii.  Sylvan Glen Park Preserve.  She requested that the Trails Council give preliminary approval to an 0.2-mile extension of the pink-blaze Taconic Bridge Trail, as well as final approval to the 0.4-mile white-blazed Seminary Ridge Trail and the 0.5-mile Taconic Bridge Trail.  She pointed out that preliminary approval was given to these trails at the Trails Council meeting of December 1, 2011 (at that meeting, the trails were stated to be in the western section of Granite Knolls Park, but this parkland has since been redesignated as part of Sylvan Glen Park Preserve).                                iii.  Granite Knolls Park.  She requested that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Conference of the following trails in Granite Knolls Park, which have already been constructed and blazed by mountain bikers: Connecting section of Bruno’s Run Trail (red) (0.5 mile); alternate section of Bruno’s Run Trail (red) (0.1 mile); extension of Boulder Ridge Trail (blue) (0.1 mile); Dynamite Run Trail (lavender) (0.4 mile); and Happy Ending Trail (orange) (0.4 mile).  She stated that although these trails were constructed by mountain bikers, there is good cooperation between mountain bikers and other local residents who hike on these trails.                                iv.  Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center.  She requested that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Conference of the 2.35-mile trail system in Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center, a Westchester County park, encompassing the following trails: Hilltop Loop (blue) (2.0 miles); Vernal Pond Trail (yellow) (0.05 mile); Campfire Circle Trail (yellow) (0.1 mile); and Rock Pass Trail (green) (0.2 mile).  She explained that the environmental center asked the Trail Conference to help maintain their trails, and that we will not be maintaining another unblazed mowed trail around a field.             It was noted that these trails will be added to the trails database in the near future.  It was then moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Trails Council approve the adoption by the Trail Conference of all of these trails.                      d.  Relocations on A.T. in Orange County. Rich Taylor explained a proposal to eliminate the existing blue-blazed side trail that leads from the A.T. in Orange County to the Wildcat Shelter and to replace it with a new trail that follows a more direct route.             He also explained a proposal to move a 200-foot-long section of the A.T. adjacent to Little Dam Lake, which currently traverses a wet area, to a route that follows drier terrain closer to the lake.  John Mack stated that Jeff Hutchinson, manager of Sterling Forest State Park, has objected to this relocation because it routes the trail over high rocks, from which hikers might fall in inclement weather. However, it was pointed out that this section of the A.T. is not on Sterling Forest State Park property.  It was also noted that the bridge over the outlet of Little Dam Lake collapsed about three years ago and has been replaced by stepping stones.             It was then moved, seconded and unanimously carried that the Trails Council approve both of these relocations along the A.T. in Orange County, pending approval of these relocations by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy following an environmental review.                      e.  New Trail in Black Rock Forest.  Patty Lee Parmalee questioned the procedures involved in the construction of a new trail in Black Rock Forest that is proposed to parallel the entrance road, from the parking area at the entrance to the forest to the Science Center.  Ed Goodell stated that this proposed new trail would require very technical construction and that the management of Black Rock Forest is currently considering engaging Tahawus Trails to build this new trail.  It was pointed out that Black Rock Forest does not need our permission to construct this trail on their property, but if they want the Trail Conference to adopt this trail, it needs to be approved by Trails Council.  Monica Day pointed out that the Trail Conference previously built another trail in this area of Black Rock Forest, and she questioned whether the Trail Conference might be asked to build this new trail, too.             6.  Sharing Best Practices of Engaging Maintainers and Supervisors.  Jane Daniels distributed trail maintenance forms to the members of the Trails Council and discussed the proper way to fill out these forms.  She commented that whenever new maintainers are trained, they should also be instructed as to how to properly fill out these forms.  A member of the Trails Council commented that the online forms need to be modified to permit additional data to be filled in for certain fields.  It was also commented that the retention of these forms needs to be discussed by the Board as part of the Records Retention Policy.             7.  Updating Trail Crew Chief Summary Form.  Chris Reyling suggested that a line for administrative hours be added to the trail crew chief summary form.  He stated that he was informed by Larry Wheelock that this type of change needs to be approved by the Trails Council.  Several other improvements were suggested to this and other forms.             8.  Trail Approval Process.  Daniel Chazin suggested that all proposals for new and relocated trails should be brought to the Trails Council as early as possible, so that the Trails Council could discuss whether the proposed relocation or new trail was appropriate.  He noted that if proposals are not brought before Trails Council until after all approvals have been obtained and the work has been completed, there is little that the Trails Council can do except to “rubber-stamp” the decisions that have already been made.  Gail Neffinger expressed general support for the procedure suggested by Daniel Chazin, noting that in some instances, the proposal is put forth by the Park, which might require a different procedure.  It was stated that the current practice is to the contrary, and several Trails Council members commented that they do not think that a change is necessary.  It was agreed that we need to review the present procedures and clarify them, and further discussion on this matter was postponed to the next Trails Council meeting.             9.  Proposed Split of North Jersey Trails Region.  Jonathan Martin noted that a split of the North Jersey Trails region had been proposed several years ago and, at that time, the solution arrived at was to have two co-chairs of a unified committee.  He stated that both trails chairs involved now want to split the region in two, with Karen Schoof becoming trails chair for the North Jersey Trails region, which would include Ramapo Mountain State Forest and all trails to the west (mostly in Passaic County), and John Moran becoming trails chair for the Northeast Jersey Trails region, which would include Ramapo Valley County Reservation, all other Bergen County-owned land in the Ramapos, Garret Mountain Park, Rifle Camp Park, Friendship Park (in Passaic County) and trails along the Palisades.  He noted that the mileage of the trails in the current North Jersey Trails regions would be pretty evenly distributed between the two new regions.             John Moran noted that when he assumed the position of trails chair, the North Jersey Trails region had 225 miles of trails.  He stated that some of the trail mileage has since been split off to other regions, but that the mileage of the trails in the region subsequent increased by over 50%, and that it is in our best interest to limit our trail mileage to areas where we can take care of the trails.  It was commented that this proposed change would require that the database be updated, but that not much would change as far as the trail volunteers in the region are concerned.             Bob Jonas questioned why we could not continue with the co-chair arrangement, rather than splitting up the region.  Monica Day stated that we should be attentive to the needs of the particular personalities involved, since the only real impact of the change is to our database.  Ed Goodell stated that the Trail Conference has a chronic shortage of leaders, and that we need to make this change in order to accommodate the two leaders who are concerned with this situation.  It was agreed that the Trails Council would only approve the split into two regions, and that the two new trails chairs would have to be approved by the Board.  It was also agreed that the names of the two new regions are only proposed names and that the actual names could be determined at a later date.             It was then moved, seconded and unanimously carried (with one abstention)  that the Trails Council approve the split of the North Jersey Trails region into two separate regions, as set forth above.             10.  Standards for Chain-Sawyers and “Swampers.”  Gary Haugland announced that he was forming a committee consisting of himself, Jonathan Martin, Bob Jonas and Andrew Argeski to discuss policy and procedures for chainsawyers, including training.  He reviewed with the Trails Council the various items that would be considered by this committee, including a possible requirement that graduates of training courses would be required to make a commitment to work on our trails or pay for their training.  Ed Goodell stated that either he or a representative should be included on this committee to present risk issues.             11.  Organizing Storm Clean-Ups.  Daniel Chazin proposed that we have procedures in place that can be implemented in the case of a major storm to assess, as soon as possible following the storm, the extent of damage to all Trail Conference trails.  David Day pointed to the instance of High Point State Park, where the entire park was closed following Hurricane Sandy and volunteers could not even get into the park to assess the condition of the trails.  Patty Lee Parmalee suggested that all supervisors contact their respective parks to determine whether it is permissible for volunteers to hike the trails to determine their condition, and then, if it is determined to be permissible, maintainers would be asked to assess the condition of their respective trails.  Daniel Chazin commented that he did not believe that this was a satisfactory resolution of the issue, since maintainers only assume the obligation to check their trails twice a year, and he proposed instead that other volunteers who are willing to go out after storms be asked to perform this task on an organized basis.  Due to the lateness of the hour, further discussion on this matter was postponed to the next Trails Council meeting.             12.  Next Trails Council Meeting.  The next Trails Council meeting will be held on Thursday, April 4, 2013.             13.  The meeting was adjourned at 9:28 p.m.                                                                                Respectfully submitted,                                                                                Daniel D. Chazin