It takes a village to build a trail |

It takes a village to build a trail

Wonderful to see the coverage on the new Scotts Flat Lake Trail, but the article failed to mention all of the organizations involved with this project and without whom the trail would never have been built.

First, a little history. Three or four years ago the Forest Service closed what was known as the Scotts Drop Trail. This trail had been in use by mountain bikers for as long as anyone could remember, but it did not meet Forest Service standards for trails. The mountain bike community, including the Forest Trails Alliance (FTA) and Bicyclists of Nevada County (BONC), began meeting with Forest Service personnel to develop plans for a new trail to replace the closed trail.

These planning meetings covered many months to work out the general area in which the trail would be built, the procedures that would have to be followed, and the responsibilities for each organization involved. Only after these details were worked out could the trail route be flagged on the ground. FTA took major responsibility with laying out the route and coordinating the construction. BONC was in charge of fundraising. YBONC (Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County) assumed the fiduciary roll for management and disbursement of funds.

Because part of the trail would be on NID property, an easement had to be granted to an organization. The Bear Yuba Land Trust agreed to accept the easement.

Building a trail … requires people skilled in how to build a trail that has flow, is fun to ride or hike, is safe and will withstand the impact of rain, snow and heavy use.

When the planning was completed, the task of routing the trail was undertaken. This process took many days over a period of months. Care had to be taken that the trail would maintain a grade that allowed for fun yet safe use. A general route was first laid out. Then it was walked again and again by different people to ensure that the best possible trail could be constructed.

After the route was finalized, the Forest Service conducted an environmental review to ensure that no sensitive habitat or archaeological sites were disturbed. FTA developed a budget for the project. Funds were raised by BONC, FTA, and YBONC. Grant proposals were written to obtain funding for construction and signage on the trail.

With all the planning and organizational work done, an inexperienced person would think that you could start to move dirt. No. You have to wait for the right weather conditions and soil moisture. You can’t do mechanical work during fire season. You can’t move dirt when the soil is too dry. You can’t move dirt when the ground is too wet.

Building a trail takes time, patience and coordination. It requires people skilled in how to build a trail that has flow, is fun to ride or hike, is safe and will withstand the impact of rain, snow and heavy use.

When you use the Scotts Flat Lake Trail this summer, give thanks to the Forest Service, NID, FTA, BONC, YBONC, and the Bear Yuba Land Trust for having the vision and perseverance to get this trail built.

Jerry Henderson, a member of BONC and Sierra Express, lives in Grass Valley.

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