Thursday, February 2, 2017

FS National Trail Strategy Issues Call to Action

Trail Stewardship Key to Quality Recreation
Don Amador on Mendocino NF

As heavy winter storms continue to pound federal lands in the West, QWR believes it is important for the OHV community to accept the Forest Service’s CALL TO ACTION as outlined in their December 2016 National Strategy for a Sustainable Trail System.


Heavy Storm Impacts Highlight Need for Partnerships
to Help with Trail Clearing

QWR agrees with the agency that the time to build on past successes, integrate new partnerships and ideas, and improve contemporary trail management practices for the Forest Service trail system is now.

QWR commends the Forest Service for its work over the last several years to create this foundational document that encourages a “trail culture” in the agency by identifying the following action items:

Areas of Action:

1.            Leader Intent: Cultivate leadership desire for and commitment to a sustainable trail                             system.

2.            Organization and Talent: Leverage an expanded and combined workforce to increase                        stewardship capacity.

3.            Relevancy: Connect with diverse communities and trail users.

4.            Sustainable Systems: Collaboratively create and achieve a common vision.

5.            Agency Processes and Culture: Maximize opportunities for effective partnering and trail                    stewardship.

6.            Information: Provide readily available, up-to-date, and credible trail information.

The document correctly notes that a generation ago, nearly every ranger district had its own trail crew, but that is no longer the case. The Forest Service will overcome a significant reduction in field staff by moving from a model of “doing it all” to a model of shared stewardship in order to achieve mutual goals and receive shared benefits.

High Winds Knock Down Trees Across System Trail

Having just gotten back from helping clear post-storm downed trees that were blocking trails on the Mendocino National Forest helped reinforce QWR’s axiom that a quality trail program does not happen by accident.  It is the result of a strong partnership with the trail community and the agency’s commitment to a substantive volunteer program.

Clearing Downed Trees Across a SxS/ATV/MC Connector Trail

QWR believes the National Trails Strategy outlines a path for success that can be used by units that are in the process of creating and managing a sustainable trail network.  The report can also be used by ranger districts to help infuse new energy and ideas into their existing recreation program and partnerships.

Trail Recon to Look at Post Storm Impacts

QWR encourages users and agency recreation staff to read this report and use it to help foster relationships with a goal to work together in a collaborative effort to be good stewards of the land and our trail systems. 


  1. Comment from a retired FS Rec. Officer - Good write up Don. Just a couple of thoughts. R-5 and other Forest Service Regions could consider developing and dedicating itself to establishing a trail maintenance "Champion" or "Master Performer" Program, ( In know it sounds rather sexy but you get the drift) similar to what Cam Lockwood used to do with his "Sweco" skills and machinery. This is currently being done within R-5 with the Animal Handler/Packer Program to maintain trail maintenance skills essential within designated wilderness areas. Call it a "strike team" or whatever, this body could be highly skilled individuals that posses the background, expertise, and skills to layout, develop and implement various OHV trail projects.

    As budgets tighten and with the possibility of reduced State of California OHV grant dollars "looming" in the future, a "roving" specialized team could really assist those poorer FS/RD's and Unit Management Areas to cut costs with developing and construction of OHV related projects.

    As I mentioned when we spoke last. During my tenure, I witnessed a tendency by the FS to pull back and in some cases discontinue volunteer and partnerships agreements when dollars became tight. There is no free lunch and these programs do require some managerial oversight and that equates to a cost. Unfortunately there are many bureaucrats that just don't want to work with outside partners and resist being force to do so. I think this fear is instilled in the thought of losing some actual or perceived control over their domain and/or administrative controls.

    Good luck with success in charging ahead with this gallant effort to build a true partnership with the various Federal agencies. It is certainly worth a try and you are the best carrier of the torch with your willingness to get directly involved and dirty on the ground.

  2. Thanks for the update, it appears to be a positive shift which could ensure keeping trails open to the public.

    I've grown accustomed to the Forrest Service shutting down access due to reduced staffing, especially riding on BLM land in the Sierras.

    If this direction can empower & incentivize local orgs to keep trails maintained, I'm hopeful of the outcome.