Love your Community Forest? Be a volunteer trail steward.

Be an Arcata Community Forest volunteer trail steward

PRESS RELEASE 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 
February 15, 2013                                                                                                               

Volunteer to be an Arcata Community Forest Trail Steward
Informational meeting on Thursday, February 28

After a successful two and a half year pilot program supporting the Hammond Trail and the trails at the Friends of the Dunes Nature Center in Manila, the Volunteer Trail Steward program will expand to the Arcata Community Forest trail system. An orientation and initial organizing meeting for all interested volunteers will be held on Thursday, February 28, at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber at Arcata City Hall. Contact Rees Hughes at (707) 826-0163 or hughes@humboldt.edu with any questions.

Volunteer Trail Stewards (VTS) is a grass roots program of the Humboldt Trails Council. Stewards serve as community eyes and ears whenever they are out walking, running or riding the trail. Stewards also call in safety hazards, pick up litter and report camping or inappropriate use but are not the police. In addition, about once a month Stewards host a Saturday morning work session where volunteers work with City staff on a trail project. This may be brushing back a section of trail, rebuilding a wash-out, removing exotic plants or improving signage. No prior experience or tools are required; the only qualification is willingness. “I found it to be rewarding work that yields noticeable results,” says Hammond Trail Steward Kevin Wright.

The VTS program is important for several reasons. City and county government budgets in Humboldt County are stretched to the breaking point. The expense of maintaining trails is one of the most cited reasons for resistance to building additional trails. For example, it costs the County as much as $60,000 a year to maintain the Hammond Trail. The VTS program demonstrates that citizen support and involvement can lower the cost of trail maintenance. Second, community presence out on the trails helps minimize vandalism and maximize safety, a positive outcome of community involvement, ownership and responsibility for common space.  “It has been amazing just how much of a difference our mere presence makes,” says Steward Stacy Becker. “Each time we're out on the trail, we receive many thank you’s by users.”

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