Volunteers and staff from Forest Trails Alliance (FTA), a Nevada County nonprofit organization, traveled south to help local volunteers and the U.S. Forest Service complete a new trail connector for the Willow Springs trail head.
The trail head is located approximately 30 miles east of Santa Maria in the Los Padres National Forest.
The existing trail was deteriorating from erosion; the trails alliance was contacted to help build a more sustainable trail.
The restoration’s challenge centered on a narrow spur of public land between two private properties that required 15 switchbacks to be placed in such a way that did not accumulate or focus runoff or encourage shortcutting.
Hard ground and rock slowed progress and many switchbacks required intensive dry-stacked stone walls.
The effort was supported by volunteers from local hiking clubs, the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers trail organization and the San Luis Obispo Parks Open Space & Trails foundation, an equestrian organization.
District Ranger Kathleen Phelps enlisted fire crews and other staff to participate, as well.
Fire crews, in addition to trail finishing, extended hose up the hill, saturating the dry soils on the finished trail and also manned a mechanized wheelbarrow, bringing rock for building walls.
Forest Trails Alliance is a nonprofit community trail organization whose mission is to develop the skills and resources to expand local trail systems and their connectivity.
Funding for local projects, in part, comes from donations and projects such as this which generate revenue for local projects.
Recent trail projects, funded by FTA, include the new Scotts Flat Lake Trail, built with NID and Tahoe National Forest, and the Tribute Trails, where FTA is developing the trails for a new suspension bridge across Deer Creek along with Nevada City, Sierra Fund and other organizations.
Forest Trails Alliance strives to design sustainable trails that engage users.
Using volunteers reduces cost and creates long-term stakeholders to care and maintain trails.
This is the third trail FTA has collaborated with regional trail partners to build in the San Luis Obispo region.
Partnerships between trail-user groups, trail organizations like FTA, and land managers is on the increase as tight budgets require creative solutions.
Forest Trails Alliance has invested thousands of dollars on specialized equipment and training to produce quality trails.
FTA has also recently partnered with NAPA County, Placer County and local state parks to facilitate trail projects, as well as more than 30 miles of public trail in the Tahoe National Forest.
To find out more about FTA or make a donation, go to foresttrailsalliance.org.