Roger Poff Explains Trail Monitoring to Volunteers
On April 18, Roger Poff, consulting soil scientist, gave a field demonstration on trail condition monitoring to volunteers at the Fouts Springs work center located on the Mendocino National Forest. The primary purpose of trail condition monitoring—known as the Green-Yellow-Red trail condition rating—is to prioritize and schedule trail maintenance. GYR monitoring can also be used to document long-term trends in trail conditions. The focus of the monitoring is on trail drainage and water control. Trail drainage affects tread sustainability and the potential for sediment delivery to watercourses.
A Rolling Dip with Functioning Catch Basin
The GYR monitoring process rates seven categories of trail condition: Water Control; Erosion Off-trail; Sediment Traps; Tread Wear; Tread Width, User-created Trails; and Watercourse Crossings. Each category is rated as Green, Yellow, or Red, based on condition. Green indicates good condition, with no immediate need for maintenance; Yellow indicates maintenance will be needed soon; and Red indicates the trail is in poor condition and needs heavy maintenance, or possibly a reroute.
The monitoring form also includes 15 Cause Codes that are combined with GYR condition ratings to define the cause of the problem, and to suggest the action needed to correct the problem.
An interagency team developed the GYR trail condition monitoring form in 2003 as a revision of Section G of the 1991 CA Soil Conservation Guidelines/Standards. The revision was adopted by the Forest Service in 2004, and a similar version was included in the California State Parks 2008 Soil Loss Standard and Guidelines. Minor revisions to the Forest Service version were made in 2013.
The monitoring process was designed for use by OHV technicians and volunteers. With as little as one day of field training, and some follow-up coaching, most individuals should be able to assign a correct GYR condition class and cause code to OHV trails.