Care of Trails and Volunteers Comes with Adoption of Trails at Dover Stone Church

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Volunteers learn trail maintenance techniques from NYNJTC's Hank Osborn. Photo by Stancy DuHamelTrails at the Dover Stone Church Nature Preserve in Dover Plains, NY, were the focus of an Introduction to Trail Maintenance workshop conducted by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference in March.

Led by Trail Conference staff member Hank Osborn, the workshop was the first on-the-ground benefit of the new collaboration between the Preserve’s partners and the Trail Conference, which recently agreed to manage trails in this unique and beautiful preserve in northeast Dutchess County.

More than 20 potential trail volunteers learned trail maintenance basics: how best to use hand clippers, loppers, and saws; clipping and lopping techniques; ideal trail standards such as proper trail width and tread conditions; and how to report problems that go beyond routine maintenance.

Since 1920, the Trail Conference has recruited and trained volunteers to build and maintain trails in public open space in the greater New York-New Jersey Metropolitan region. Its network of adopted trails include more than 2,000 miles of trails—including the local section of the Appalachian Trail--that each year are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of walkers, hikers, and runners resident or visiting the area.

Trail Adoption

When the Trail Conference officially adopts a trail or trail network, it typically commits to train and assign volunteer maintainers who will:

  1. Clip and trim brush to keep the trail open and passable;
  2. Clean water bars and their outflow channels to control erosion;
  3. Remove fallen trees and limbs, except when too large to handle with hand tools;
  4. Remove litter and graffiti (if possible); and
  5. Report trail conditions and problems to their volunteer supervisor

In addition, the Trail Conference may work with the land owner/manager on trail design and relocations. The Trail Conference also provides general liability insurance coverage for Trail Conference volunteers who are performing their assigned tasks on behalf of the land owning partner.      

Trail adoptions are reviewed and approved by the Trail Conference Trails Council, experienced trail leaders with the organization, and by its Board of Directors.