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Messages - pcwolf

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1
Land Use General Discussion Board / Big Levels / Bald Mountain improvements
« on: September 30, 2014, 12:01:19 am »
The U. S. Forest Service has been busy this Summer with improvements.  These photos are from our annual Post VA4WDA Trail Ride follow-on trip.

New trail blazes:


New trail guide signs:


My favorite. This shows the U.S. Forest Service what is possible if they simply blaze trails and mark sensitive areas.
The sign warns about erosion and invites foot travel, but asks wheelers to leave this section alone.
How hard, how long would you have to work to rip this sign out and drive where you want? 5 minutes?
And, yet ... it has been there *at least* three years I have driven this Big Levels, and ethical wheelers have respected their request:


Any Shenandoah Valley 4-Wheelers or other members near Staunton or Harrisonburg ... I can use a short list of interested wheelers willing to help with these improvements on the Big Levels trail.  We have an interested brother in the USFS Glenwood-Pedlar District who can use your help!!

pcwolf@yahoo.com

2
Land Use General Discussion Board / USFS Flagpole Knob Summit meeting
« on: September 14, 2014, 04:35:45 pm »
As a result of my networking with U.S. Forest Service District Rangers in Virginia, I received an invitation to meet with some of their officials at Flagpole to discuss trail access and use. I would have been willing to go it alone, but thought I should invite someone solid to go with me. Charles Sikes, Middle Peninsula Jeep Assn Secretary was free, able, and willing to spend a couple of days on the trail, and I am very thankful he did. We departed Newport News at 1000 Monday and arrived at a very nice campground about 1500. We set up camp and spent the evening at our usual relaxation ... watching the fire and swapping lies.

We were scheduled to meet with USFS representatives Tuesday at 1000 so we got up there early, just after 0900. It struck me as very funny that when I spoke to the Ranger originally I was trying to arrange our meeting at Skidmore reservoir near Camp JEMO and there was always just a bit of disconnect. It took me a long time before I realized I was thinking like a Jeeper, and the Ranger was thinking like a responsible Government official ... their people were going to run up Briery Branch Road on the pavement while I was thinking no, let's go up the trail! Two hours in 4WD versus running up the pavement? No way!

So ... Tuesday morning we run up the road and pull off where the pavement ends. A fellow with a big pickup with dog kennel and one sad hound in the back is already waiting, and he asks if we are coming to attend the same meeting he is. Everet Fisher is the Real Deal, and when I asked him about after treeing the bear just how the final kill shot is delivered he tells me, "I don't know, the last bear I killed was about twenty years ago." The thrill is in the hunt, I guess, exactly like catch and release trout fishing.

Soon the official meeting participants arrive ... the Deputy administrator for Virginia Forests, a wildlife specialist from WV, a soil Specialist from Roanoke, a wildlife Biologist from the North River District, and a Field Engineer. We proceed up the trail Chuck and I enjoy watching fullsize Forest Service pickups drag tail and punch their chin spoilers getting up the access road. We stop at the first gulley washout to discuss what destruction unruly wheelers have done and how we might work to fix it. Getting back into the vehicle convoy we run up to another spot where there is a mudhole playarea that has been dug by four-wheelers. Another pow-wow, and then run a few hundred yards up the trail to a meadow where ruts are torn into the soil. We ran up afterward to yet one more spot that has actually been bermed by a dozer in the attempt to block access, yet determined wheelers had cut go-rounds to get where they wanted to be.

The over-riding feedback we kept providing to the USFS reps: There aren't *any* signs indicating where the trail is. There aren't *any* signs showing where sensitive areas are off limits. I explain to them that even with my experience running trails in Virginia I can't tell where the trail is today. How in the hell can you expect to keep people off if you don't tell them "Keep Off"?? I explain that when there is a large area of muddy ruts with no signs and no fences that it is nothing but an invitation to wheelers: "Come on in here, there's a playground just around this bend." How about just blazing the trail to show where the road is?

Chuck and I can understand their arguments about protecting the trail but we are just trying to explain the mind-set of legal, ethical wheelers. If the USFS doesn't mark and post the area, it just looks like open territory for wheeling. It was good to get these office workers out and try to point out what the wild trail looks like when they don't even bother to point out and sign the places they are trying to protect.

Overall, it was a friendly and productive meeting. As we proceed I believe I will have ample opportunity for dedicated wheelers to work with the Forest Service to mark and protect sensitive areas while still keeping open access to our common public lands. There really wasn't any adversarial feeling to this summit meeting at all. I have great hope we can work together to get the job done. One thing I think is important to remember when wheeling on public USFS land: the best primary use is for a point-to-point run through natural beauty. There really aren't *ANY* obstacles or playgrounds off our Forest Service trails. Yet. 

If you want to "tear it up" go to The Cove, Rausch Creek, and Crozet if they ever get it back. Keep the National Forest for an easy ride through beautiful Virginia Countryside and keep it open.

A fully illustrated trip report is available on the MPJAI board here:
http://www.mpjai.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=16450

3
Trip Reports / 2014 Earth Day Cleanup - Trip Report
« on: May 05, 2014, 11:57:03 am »
This is a placeholder until I can write a complete report.

4
Upcoming Trail Runs / Re: 2014 Earth Day Cleanup
« on: April 02, 2014, 10:33:44 pm »
went up today to do a site survey and finalize details.  Campground looks great.

This entire site is very accessible and can easily be done if we get the turnout.

5
Agree with comments regarding GWNF.

Check out campgrounds at Sherando Lake (USFS) and Natural Chimneys (Augusta County)
Both are reasonably priced, offer hot water showers, flush toilets, and electrical/sewer hookups.
Those campgrounds are within easy driving distance of a number of good, scenic trails.

6
Upcoming Trail Runs / 2014 Earth Day Cleanup
« on: March 28, 2014, 03:18:35 pm »

7


This is what happens when wheelers misbehave and try to cut new trails on Public lands: You can slam the door shut on the people who come after you on the trail.

Here is the text description of a project the Ranger of this District is preparing for this trail:

"Whitmore, David -FS

Phil,

Since the winter has been real this year with lots of precipitation, we have not been able to accomplish any work to date on the Big Levels/Bald Mtn. Trail.  We hope to start some work over the summer.  The work is planned to accomplish several things:

1)      Block illegally opened and travelled roads
2)      Designate the legal roads for vehicular travel
3)      Improve the condition of the legal routes for conventional 4x4s
4)      Correct any drainage deficiencies
5)      Mark the legal routes through a combination of tree blazing and/or signage
6)      Erect small information boards at both ends of the road (near Blue Ridge Parkway intersection and near Coal Road intersection)

For a volunteer project,  I feel that your organization and member clubs could help us with items #5 and #6 at a minimum.  As part of the grant through the Recreational Trails Fund (motorized portion) through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, we (the Forest Service) have to have a certain percentage of the work accomplished through non-federal funds.  This could be through material donations from private entities, or through the value of volunteer labor from groups like yours. 

Another possibility that would benefit everyone would be to have a trail cleanup day, much like the one outlined below.

I really appreciate your willingness to work with us and apologize that I don’t have anything concrete in the works yet.  As a starting point, maybe you can gauge interest from this weekend’s meeting and get back to me about the above possibilities.  If interest is there, then I will be glad to provide some more definitive projects and timelines.  Thanks again,

David"

If your Club would like to take on some of these projects, please reply here on VA4WDA Forums or email to me:  Landuse@VA4WDA.org

THANKS!

-Phil Wolf
Land Use Coordinator

8
Thanks, Bryan.

Give me a call when you get back to give me a rundown of your observations. You are saving me a trip up solely to get an eyeball on the cleanup site. 

I have used your email regarding your trip this week to stir up the USFS Rangers and show that we are in this for the long term.  OCC RULES!

-Phil

9
Received the following from TreadLightly soliciting funds to protect and improve trails outside Moab.

http://treadlightly.thankyou4caring.org/emailviewonwebpage.aspx?erid=468477&trid=6b93bb26-48bb-4b8f-85c7-96cbaa94d0cf

10
Latest News From Our Land use Chair / Trail Improvement Reimbursement Funds
« on: February 06, 2014, 11:43:52 pm »
Virginia 4-Wheel Drive Association uses a portion of your dues to keep a Trail Improvement Fund for the express purpose of paying costs associated with maintaining and improving your trails. 

Folks, through meeting with U.S. Forest Service Rangers and driving many trails, I have collected a few small projects suitable for Clubs to tackle with a day's work to make improvements.  Please contact me if you want to know if there is a project near you.  Some of the projects so far include repairing fences, placing signs and markers.

This fund is also authorized to reimburse YOUR CLUB for any expenses you incur for trail improvements.  Please ask me how to tap this money, but it basically means requesting reimbursement IN ADVANCE to the VA4WDA Board, and then documenting your work to unlock the reimbursement.

Thanks!
-Phil

11
If anyone should be planning run up to Second Mountain Trail outside Harrisonburg anytime soon, I need an on-site eyeball report of a cleanup site the Ranger suggested we tackle next.

Thanks!
-Phil

12
Land Use General Discussion Board / Keeping Public Access roads open
« on: October 28, 2013, 07:34:01 pm »
Please note the appearance of Youtube videos which *really* harm our cause. This is exactly what Ranger Anne Downey of the Glenwood-Pedlar Forest District was trying to explain to me.

Another interesting article, I am *really* beginning to admire this blog!

http://www.driveoffroad.com/blog/2012/07/23/keeping-our-trails-open/

13
Land Use General Discussion Board / Interactive USFS Trail Map - USA
« on: October 28, 2013, 07:29:24 pm »
Interesting ... I have not checked this out yet but the concept is promising ...

http://www.driveoffroad.com/blog/2012/08/14/interactive-us-forest-service-map/

Map link: http://maps.fs.fed.us/TravelAccess/

14
Another good blog post ... Gregg Mumm attended and spoke at our last (2012) Annual Trail Ride at Oak Ridge.

http://www.driveoffroad.com/blog/2012/08/14/recreation-groups-join-efforts-to-challenge-new-usfs-planning-regulations/

15
Land Use General Discussion Board / Tellico - one sad precautionary tale
« on: October 28, 2013, 07:22:50 pm »
I found this article of interest.  Please note that it is a blog post, and as such, it may be factual or it may just be opinion.  But it tells me I have to work harder with the USFS here in Virginia!

http://www.driveoffroad.com/blog/2012/09/21/rip-tellico/

-Phil

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