Thursday, April 21, 2016

Trail-based Volunteer Programs Don’t Happen by Accident.

Recent Pre-Event Recon for May Volunteer Project
Upper Lake Ranger District, Mendocino NF

QWR believes that substantive federal trail-based volunteer programs don’t happen by accident. 

The success of any volunteer program is directly related to agency and user commitment to both the process and the product.  

QWR understands that agency volunteer programs are simply just one tenet (albeit an important factor) of managed recreation on a Forest Service or BLM unit.

Field Recon with Local Club Representative from
Marin County Motorcycle Association

One aspect of user involvement is to participate with the agency on pre-planning for any large volunteer work project(s).    Often that pre-event planning requires meetings with recreation staff to review material needs for products such as cement, barriers, signs, tables, building materials, etc.

With reduced amounts of federally appropriated funds for recreation projects, there can be a role for users to play by helping secure construction materials via state or industry grants or private donations.  

One key planning tool is for OHV leaders to do a pre-event field-level recon of the project to ascertain the number of volunteers required and which specific skillsets/tools are needed to help the agency accomplish the task.

In areas where the agency is just beginning to staff up with recreation specialists, it will be important for trail enthusiasts to reach out to new FS/BLM staff.  Riders should invite agency leads to attend club meetings or go out for a tour of the area in OHVs.

It has been QWR’s experience that agency recreation staff are more than willing to go out in the field with the OHV community to discuss trail management, solutions to resource issues, and potential future projects. 

A field trip not only gives them an excuse to get out of the office but it is an important method by which both parties can build mutual trust and respect. 

There is a lot of truth to our trail motto which is: The quality of the unit’s trail program is directly proportional to the quality of the relationship that exists between the agency staff and user community.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written article. I have been involved as a project coordinator volunteer for over 30 years and have seen many changes in the process of completing projects.
    Bottom line do not give up or become discouraged with the slow progress of getting projects on board. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are seeing upper management changes yearly and at times need to be patient as new managers build confidence when working with our volunteer groups.