On Friday June 5th, 2015, after over a year of trying to arrange a meeting a few members of VA4WDA Board of Directors met with the U. S. Forest Service Glenwood-Pedlar District Ranger at Alhambra Road bottom entrance to Shoe Creek. Parking the USFS pickup at the first clearing, Ranger Lauren Stull and lead Forester David Whitmore jumped into the front passenger seat of a couple of our Wranglers and we drove the trail.
The private property is not currently barricaded. There are however almost continuous "NO TRESPASSING" signs along that part of Shoe Creek trail.
We discussed some of the erosion concerns on the USFS portion of the trail, stopping where it was severe. The Forester held keys to the barricade closing the trail up to Slippery Rock unlocked and opened it so we could survey that trail as well. Back on the main trail, David pointed out the blaze marks that show the start of private property and then on the top side, the blaze marks that show the resumption of USFS property.
At the bottom of the trail, President Jesse Schneirla and myself approached the house of one of the property owners. A woman came out and had a friendly discussion with us about what our organization is prepared to offer to prevent offroaders from further abusing the trail. She said her father owned the property at the top of the trail, took our VA4WDA business card and promised to deliver it to her dad.
I want to sincerely thank the Ranger for fitting us into their busy schedules. We met at noon and I originally promised to get back off the trail by 2:30pm for her to make other appointments. We ended up on the trail until nearly 4:00pm. I believe she enjoyed getting out in Jeeps and our conversation once she saw we are committed, serious and ethical offroaders with a real desire to partner with them. Dave told me on the ride what his typical season is like, handing ATVers, Appalachian Trail Hikers, Bear Hunters, Cyclists, Horse Riders, Greenpeacers, and dozens of other groups who all want resources for their particular interests.
VA4WDA is large and growing, and member dues allow us to come to the table with serious labor and funds to demonstrate our commitment.
Whatever people think about the Forest Service and trail closures, they are dedicated hard-working public servants and we are on the same team with the same goal:
Preserve public lands and provide open access to ALL users.