Saturday, July 25, 2009

HORSES - Sunday July 26

The horse competition I mentioned in the previous post will continue on Sunday, July 26. Horses will be on SHALE RUN, PRESERVE LINE, MATTER SINGLETRACK, maybe WOLF POND and ROCK'S RIDGE! Rick talked to the organizer tonight about horses on soft trail and the organizer said DCNR told them they could use whatever they wanted. So they are. They are not on watershed trails (Rattling Creek, Fawn Kill, Rugged, Doc Smith). Rick will be taking pictures on Sunday of the trails after the horses go through and he plans to share with DCNR and the Lykens Watershed. We just had a good downpour and 40 or so horses on Shale Run today will not be a pretty sight. There are several concerns: 1) they are using the streambank of Rattling Creek on Preserve line -- that could start an erosion process which the Watershed folks may have issue with, 2) The Rattling Creek Membership built many of the trails and while yes, we volunteered our time realizing the trails are multi-use, we didn't build them to be torn up by another user group that is not planning to return and repair the damage, and 3) We explained to both the watershed and DCNR the trails can't sustain a thousand pound animal in soft conditions - thus, the "NO HORSES" signs went up - both DCNR and the Lykens Watershed agreed to this. Since that time, a new forrester took over and his views differ from Ellen Roane's (we miss her!). Horses on soft single track is a problem and we'll do our best to resolve.


rsdmag said...

4 legged post hole diggers. They do the same thing to Jacobsburg and never do any maintenance there either. In response, pretty much all of the trails at the 'burg have been 'hardened' with crushed gravel garbage that is a total eyesore in the forest.

Anonymous said...

Take your trails on your own land this is PUBLIC land and the horses have as much right to ride the trails
as the bikers and one of your own people went to the ride camp last night and was not very sportsman like in his actions so I don't blame the ride people from going on with the ride.

Anonymous said...

Eyesores are they? Have you ever thought of the fact that God made forests for ANIMALS, and animals don't care if anouther animals' tracks are on the trail! Like you said, it's PUBLIC land, that means it's open to EVERYONE! So suck it up, and move on...

Anonymous said...

My name is Rick Brown. I'm the biker that came over to camp to talk to Jim Saturday eve.

I'm not sure what you are imagining I said or did that was unsportsman like but I was anything but. I was respectful and simply voiced my concerns for damage to the trails due to soft trail conditions.

As far as the trails, bikers built them for biking and hiking. We know that the trails cannot take horse traffic with out considerable damage over time. There's no room for discussion on this point. We've seen the results of horses on these trail before and it's unacceptable.

When Jim ran this event last year I actaully helped mark the course and we had an understanding that he would not use singletrack bike trails. That was great. But now this year we were not involved and he used trails because DCNR gave him the go ahead. He should have had an alternate course laid out just in case of bad trail conditions so he could have used it and avoided the damage that was done today, especially after the heavy rains last night.

If you spent years developing a trail system for a certain purpose and had anther user group come in and in a weekend of use do damage to those trails you wouldn't be happy.

I was also back over there today, taking pictures of the results of the ride. Hopefully when DCNR comes in to inspect the trails tomorrow they will agree that horses should not be on the singletrack trails. Running the course on the trails after the rain we had the night before, after I voiced concerns for trail conditions, may actaully have been a mistake on Jim's part.

Those trails can take horse traffic if conditions are good. Today conditions were not and if you were out there on the trail today you could see the results of it.

I've posted pictures and sent e-mails to DCNR and Lykens Borough Watershed letting them know of our concerns.

About half of the singletrack trails are on Lykens Borough property and due to previous horse damage to the trails they have gave us permission years ago to post all those trails off limits to horses. Hopefully DCNR will see things from the same perspective after inspecting the trails after this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Rick Brown again. To the person that seemed to think that a biker called a horse an eyesore. Re-read that post, he called the fix to repair damage caused by horses, the gravel put down on the trail, an eyesore in the woods.

James Machamer said...

Rick, I saw Jill on the trails on Saturday and I told her I saw they were having a race just didn't remember the web site I saw it announced on. Here's the link to a pdf file with the race announcement. Maybe if they decide not to tell you again you can check their sites for updates and head them off at the pass so to speak. and is the main site.

Keith Whitcomb said...

Ok, here we go. My name is Keith Whitcomb and I'm one of the guys who laid out the Rattling Creek Trail System.

First, I'll tell you that we took about 2 years just hiking the mountains with a topo map in hand just to figure out where to go and where not to go with the trails. We made meticulous notes of wet areas, steep slopes, etc. when we were looking at building a connector or new section of trail. Some of the trails already existed on DCNR property and the topo map so we opened them up because they were grown in at the time. We actually rerouted some sections, such as on Wolf Pond Trail. The old section of Wolf Pond Trail went through vernal ponds so we rerouted out of that wet area. Our plan was to open up existing stuff and then asess them later to see if we need to reroute, which we did.

All of the new trail or connectors were laid out to minimize impact and/or trail maintenance. We used IMBA guidlines for this. Many of our club memebers have attended IMBA Trailbuilding Schools and are knowledgable on how and how not to build trails.

So to see damage like this in one weekend is just very frustrating for me. I understand that this is public land but I don't think that this event was coordinated using a common sense approach. At the very least there should have been a contingency plan in case of soft trail conditions. The snowmobile trails or roads could have been used in lieu of the soft singletrack. Also, even in dry conditions the route should not have went up and down an approximately 20% grade into a stream bed. (Preserve Line Trail)That section of trail definately needs rerouted.

Keith Whitcomb said...

I don't hate horses or equestrians. That's not the issue here, trail degredation is. Hikers and mountain bikers have an initmate relationship with the trail surface itself. What I'm trying to say is that the damage that has been done will not be felt or noticed by equestrians but it will be by hikers and bikers. So with that being said I hope you all understand that your impact will be noticed by other users, and eventually maybe to the point that those other user groups will no longer be able to use those trails.

I, or our club is not looking for any recognition here, but the truth of the matter is if RCST didn't exist, most of that singetrack wouldn't exist. We have logged 3,000 to 4,000 volunteer hours to build that trail system. I spent many lonely days in those woods with my brushcutter. We have also done a lot of meticulous rock work to make impassable sections walkable and/or rideable. We had a fiord built across wolf run so we wouldn't rut the streambed. So much work, can some you see where I'm coming from?

I'm not saying that bikes can't do damage either, that's why we rerouted some sections. A good comparison to this is secondary and rural back roads. Did any of you ever see a sign on a back road saying no vehicles over 10,000 pounds? That's because that road can't handle that kind of impact, especially if repeated over and over again.

There are plenty of studies and data out there comparing the impacts of user groups. Horses are right up there with motorized users. Hikers being the least and bikes usually second in most cases.

The issue isn't the people in the user group or even the horse itself, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE IMPACT AND HOW THAT IMPACT EFFECTS THE EXPERIENCE OF THE OTHER USER GROUPS.

Rick tried to get Jim to see our point of view but I guess he didn't. He wasn't being "unsportmanlike" he was being "passionate" about the work we have done. All we're looking for here is for you to work with us and try to understand our point of view. We feel that there is no respect for what we have done in Weiser Forest.

If there is mutual respect you will try to work with us and also put some sweat equity into this great trail system. We just feel that we shouldn't have keep repairing damage if we aren't the ones making these huge impacts. Like I said earlier, equestrians might not notice these impacts/changes to the trail, but someone on foot or bike will. I know GOD made the forest for all animals, again, that's not the issue. If this was the 1800's we wouldn't be having this conversation. But it's not the 1800's and this is public land, so in my opinion should be managed that way. It's funded by taxpayer dollars and VOLUNTEER sweat and equity. There are no simple solutions but I think we can find a way not to hate each other, but we also have to respect each other and each other's concerns.

Keith Whitcomb, RCST

trainwreck said...

horsepeople, why not let this be a wake up call for you? work with the mountian bikers and your land managers to help maintain access to trails that you can ride, respect the trails, and the hard work of others. believe you me that mountain bikers have been on the sharp end of the stick for a long time and we've learned alot. i am here to tell you that soon it will be horse riders as well, if it isn't already. it will only get worse. yes, it may have been mountain bikers that pointed it out this time, but what you will be seeing is increased scrutiny on all of your trail actions in the future. why you ask? well all the older generation of land managers will be retiring and a whole new crop of "college kids" that know a bit about trail sustainability and impacts will be in charge. i drive all the way from cleveland, ohio to ride the trails at rattling creek because they are pristine! they are that good! please respect them!

i work right alongside horseriders out here in ohio building trails. yeah we have this idea that we can all get along out here because eventually we are going to have to! the horse people out here are worried. they are seeing lower numbers of people becoming interested in thier culture(activity), they are recieving pressure from land managers to ride with forethought, and ride only trails open to horses.

why not be proactive instead of reactive? attend an IMBA trailbuilding seminar near you. in the least buy and read this book:

yeah, it was written by mountain bikers, but the majoratiy of the book applies to trails in general. and if you read it i promise you will be enlightened.

concentrate on the trail, on forging relationships that you will need to sustain your activities in the future, and you will be way better off than just assuming you have the right to ride anywhere, anytime, anyway you want on public land. it just ain't so anymore.

trainwreck said...

link for the book didn't post correctly. you're going to have to cut and paste it into your browser. sorry.

Chili said...

Trainwreck - thank you! And for those wondering who the heck "Trainwreck" is, he's the Ohio authority on trailbuilding. Trust us!