Let’s assume that by the time you read this, none of your neighbors is still stuck on a rooftop or pinned to a tree awaiting rescue. You have probably already sawn up any fallen limbs and cleaned up other major flood debris from your backyard, and maybe lent a hand to some other people whom you know personally. But you still feel bad about the widespread storm damage and wish that there were something more that you could do, besides donating money to the Red Cross.
Let’s further assume that you love to take advantage of the natural beauty offered by our region. It distresses you to see your favorite trails obstructed by deadfall after high winds, lightning or an ice storm, or overgrown by brambles or mountain laurel. If you see a fallen branch on a path while you’re walking, you toss or shove it off to the side, out of the way of other hikers, bikers, skiers or horseback riders, and you scratch your head wondering how the other people who have already passed that way could just ignore it.
If this describes you accurately, Esteemed Reader, then the rangers at Minnewaska State Park Preserve would like very much to see you on Sunday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Especially considering the current stringency of New York State’s budget and concomitant cutbacks in staffing at state agencies, Minnewaska, like other state parks, is always in need of help from citizen volunteers to maintain its many miles of trails. But that dire situation has just been ratcheted up several notches by the wind and water damage wrought by last week’s hurricane.
So if ever it has crossed your mind that it might be fun and rewarding to “adopt” a segment of trail or join a squad of green guerrillas once in a while, there is no better time than now to step up to the plate! On Sept. 18, you have a great opportunity for a hands-on lesson in basic trail maintenance from experienced trailkeepers. Members of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, a regionwide volunteer organization devoted to maintaining and improving public trails, and Minnewaska Park Preserve staff will work with volunteers to help improve an existing footpath. Using hand tools, you’ll help clip back overgrown shrubs and clear woodland debris. More experienced volunteers interested in more challenging trailwork are also encouraged to participate. Whether or not you’re in shape to do heavy lifting, the trailkeepers will find something useful for you to do to help this beautiful park recover from the storm.
The volunteer trail maintenance training workshop is recommended for adults and also teenagers, who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. Public school students looking to accrue necessary hours for completion of their community service requirements may be particularly interested in volunteering for this program.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own work gloves and tools including loppers, bow saws and clipping shears, if available. The usual day parking fee will be waived for all those volunteering for this program. Please wear appropriate clothing including sturdy hiking shoes, and bring plenty of snacks, water and lunch.
Preregistration for this particular trail maintenance workshop is required, although seasoned volunteers wishing to establish an ongoing stewardship relationship with their favorite stretch of Minnewaska trail can talk to the ranger staff about how to go about it. For more information and to register for programs, please call the Park Office at 255-0752.