SWIMBA Trail Stewards
SWIMBA is a long time believer in stewardship theory as opposed to the underground Trail Gnome work process. Many of us have ridden for years and come to learn that trails don’t grow on trees (well sometimes we do ride on them) and if the Trail Gnome does build a trail they may not tell you because those that own the land may not approve of it. Instead the stewardship theory relies upon the organization and individuals being motivated by sharing of common goals, autonomy, responsibility and empowerment. Over time, this translates into trust and an expansion of opportunities.
Where SWIMBA and our volunteers have rolled up their sleeves and built trail together, we have been reward with a sense of ownership and accomplishment. Not to mention the satisfaction of riding well built and maintained trails. As time has progressed, so has our reputation and knowledge base. We now have volunteer trail builders with backgrounds designing such trails as Hazard County Trail in Moab and landscape professionals specializing in rock and wall work as well as heavy equipment operators. SWIMBA volunteers have learned how much fun it is to build trails and ride what they’ve built. SWIMBA’s adopted slogan of “Build, Ride, Repeat” takes on a whole new meaning for these individuals.
Since we know the Trail Gnome has no organization abilities and could careless about whether we have sweet trails to ride or hike, it’s up to us create our own trail destiny and motivate those around us. Therefore SWIMBA is creating a Trail Stewardship program. Under this program Trail Stewards will adopt trails and work with the SWIMBA project leaders to develop and maintain trails. We know through experience that Trail Stewards will find they develop a deep personal connection with the trails. They will also begin to understand how both nature and trail users affect the trails as well as the trail solutions to maintain the uniqueness of each trail. It sounds corny but once you get dirty working on a trail there is a sense of self-satisfaction and ownership that is intrinsically extremely rewarding.
As part of the Trail Stewardship program, SWIMBA will be tracking volunteer trail work hours. We believe through a positive stewardship work ethic we can continue to demonstrate and build trust with Federal Land Managers, private land owners and those who just don’t know how much fun trail work can be. We are confident that over time and by communicating our goals and outcomes we will continue to gain access to new areas to build and maintain trails for public use.
SWIMBA Trail Steward Guidelines
Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) has already gone through the process of setting up a very successful trail stewardship program and SWIMBA is following suit in using COTA’s approach. In order to become a Trail Steward you must agree to certain conditions so SWIMBA can comply with land owners/land managers and insurance requirements. Following is an abbreviate version of Trail Steward Guidelines. If you are interested please contact a SWIMBA board member for Trail Steward opportunities.
- A minimum two-year commitment.
- Agree to document and catalogue trail features based upon SWIMBA’s trail classifications and design parameters. The SWIMBA trail project coordinator will provide assistance on this effort. This is very important to maintain a trail’s characteristics over time.
- Open and inspect the trail each spring. As early as possible open up and clear the trail for safe access, arrange a trail crew for brush and log clearing and sight lines based on the trail classification and design parameters. SWIMBA will work with the Trail Steward to schedule chainsaw operators if needed.
- Inspect all trail features for structural and fall zone integrity then submit inspection reports to SWIMBA trail project coordinator within one week of completing work.
- Inspect the condition and presence of signage.
- Inspect for good drainage and erosion issues.
- Submit inspection sheets to SWIMBA trail project coordinator within on week of inspection so they can be communicated to land managers. This notification should occur immediately if there is safety or other serious concerns.
- Write a brief description of trail work and log volunteer hours on SWIMBA webpage.
- In the fall, work on the trail tread to re-establish features if necessary and preparing drainage features for the following spring.
- Please notify SWIMBA as soon as possible if you can no longer perform your Trail Steward responsibilities. This will allow SWIMBA time to provide a Trail Steward opportunity for a new individual.