Whether it’s droughts, floods, sizzling temperatures, or record-setting Arctic blasts, any extreme weather condition can cause havoc in our Natural Areas. Floods wash out trails, and droughts can kill off some of the hardiest of trees and plants. We didn’t know what to expect after the Big Freeze of 2021 seemed to wipe out the native huisache trees. Now it appears the large old growth is falling over, while new growth is sprouting from the bottom of the trunks. Regular maintenance of our trails in the Natural Areas is an important job, and SMGA realized that while we are busy planning and building trails, we also needed to build in regular maintenance times. So we now have an SMGA Adopt-A-Trail system.
Several SMGA trail crew members volunteered extra time to “Adopt a trail” within the natural areas. They head out a couple of times a month with loppers and folding saws in their hands and hike their trail to do light maintenance work. They cut back thorny plants that have grown onto the trail, remove cobble that twist ankles, and cut and remove dead branches that are on trails or hanging overhead. They stay on top of string trimming to keep the trail from disappearing. It takes a lot of work to keep the trails in good shape.
The purpose of Adopt -A-Trail is to provide regular maintenance and keep an eye on the trail conditions. Not only do these tasks create a safe and enjoyable experience for the trail user, but they help maintain the integrity of the trail. For example, a trail blocked by a dead tree will force trail users to walk around the obstacle. This widens and changes the trail, which can lead to erosion. The Adopt-A-Trail crew not only tackles light jobs, but they will also report major issues that the Thursday or Saturday crew would need to address.
There are miles and miles of trails out here, and fortunately, more to come. Hopefully, the Adopt-A-Trail system will allow us to keep the trails in good shape. If you run across an SMGA crew member out there, be sure to say hello!
Written by Monique Tschurr, member of the Trail Crew and Outreach Committee.