USFS Trail Stewardship Summit in the Angeles National Forest
In February 2023, Lowelifes Trail Crew volunteers attended a two-day USFS Trail Stewardship Summit in the Angeles National Forest. Our local USFS staff and Mt. Wilson Bicycling Association jointly produced the volunteer summit. IMBA Trail Solutions instructors Chris Orr & Joey Klein joined USFS Trail and Travel Management Program Manager Garrett Villanueva to teach drainage design. The USFS Trail Stewardship Summit included one day of classroom instruction and one day in the field. Summit attendees represented all trail user groups including hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
The course focused on modern drainage designs that are more sustainable than the “water bars” of our trail-building past. USFS staff showed up in great numbers eager to learn better ways to direct heavy rains from our trails. It’s fantastic to see our local land manager recognizing and investing in sustainable trail designs.
Silver Moccasin NRT was utilized for the fieldwork day. Decades of poor drainage have turned water bars and steps into dangerous trail hazards. The section of Silver Moccasin NRT near Bandido Group Campground was a perfect place to observe the damage caused by poor drainage.
Several of our Lowelifes Trail Crew leaders attended a similar summit in 2018. Many of the techniques taught in the 2023 USFS Trail Stewardship Summit have been adopted by our volunteer crew for our Condor Peak Trail Restoration. Even though the material was not brand new to some of our seasoned volunteers, it was an excellent opportunity to practice diagnosing proper drainage in the field and learn together. Great discussions took place on-site with all volunteers offering ideas and suggestions.
Lowelifes volunteers also received hands-on experience and instruction with an important trail-building tool, the Clinometer. The “Clino” is a specific tool used to measure grade or slope. Knowing the percentage grade of a trail helps understand drainage and is a great tool for building sustainable trail systems.
Reinforcing the foundations of sustainable drainage is time well spent. For those with prior experience, helping newer volunteers strengthens knowledge and builds confidence.
Lowelifes Respectable Citizens’ Club embraces education opportunities and has plans for future advanced training. Beyond the chainsaw training our USFS partner provides, Lowelifes is fundraising to train our crew leaders in advanced crib & sutter walls, grip hoists, and other skills that will improve our work.