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SDMBA Trail Workers get perfect conditions for working on Martha's G PDF Print E-mail

Like in December, again it looked like Nature would serve up dry conditions for trail work on February 7th. Again the decision was made to postpone the work session one week and again the payoff was a wet week leading to perfect conditions to work the tread at Martha's.

On February 14th, 2009 eighteen SDMBA volunteers took to the trail to help fulfill the two main goals of trail work. 1) Keep water off the trail. 2) Keep people on the trail.

Number 2 was quickly accomplished (I hear you snickering, grow up!) when almost the entire crew walked to Martha's Grove and removed a downed tree. How did they do this with no chain saws you ask? Simple. They all picked it up and moved it off the trail. The peace of the park was not broken with the sound of a two-cycle engine and an obstacle that could have caused people to trail blaze around it was removed so that users would stay on the trail.

When the Martha's Grove trail was constructed "trail science" wasn't where it is today. The trail meanders up and down nonsensically as it heads toward a quiet spot known as Martha's Grove. Much of the trail is what the International Mountain Bicycling Association would define as "unsustainable"--meaning that in many places the trail is constructed in such a way that water is often directed onto the trail, not off of it. Also many of the pitches of trail are too steep or run directly parallel with the direction of the flow of water during a rain. Our job for the day was to create and repair structures that divert water off of the trail.

As mentioned, this session we started all the way out at the picnic table and moved back towards the main staging area at Sycamore Canyon Drive. This allowed us to address some of the parts of the trail that had been most effected by water erosion. We ended up stopping right where the December trail work had left off so in two sessions we basically worked on the entire trail.

To address goal number 1 crews built knicks and rolling grade dips to drain water off the trail, constructed water bars where needed, filled ruts in the trail and even helped direct water to the center of the creek that goes over the trail at one point. The soil was moist and very workable--when dry this area is very difficult to work on because the soil is so hard but just add water and suddenly you can easily move and shape the tread to your liking.

The park was closed for the day so we had no interruptions. It stayed closed for the next few days which allowed the soil we had worked to set and with the addition of another inch of rain a couple days later our trail features had hardened up nicely by Tuesday.

Here's what one volunteer said of the day:
"Today felt differently than the usual trail work. I think that is because instead of picking a section or two we worked on the whole trail. Except for the stray dog walker nobody else was out there -- it was all ours. I've never felt the ownership that I felt today any other place or time."

Our thanks to all the volunteers that showed up to take care of this trail. Special thanks also to our growing crew of Trail Bosses. The ratio of Boss to Worker Bee was about 1:2 so the crews were small but well led and effective.

Because of the unsustainable nature of many parts of the Martha's Grove trail SDMBA runs trail crews here at least twice a year and smaller crews come in regularly to help too. Some areas need work constantly while other areas need less attention. Some of the work the SDMBA crew did on the 14th will literally last for years. Thanks to the 18 guys that came out and contributed 72 man-hours to this trail and to the park.

In 2008 SDMBA contributed over 1500 volunteer trail work hours to San Diego area parks, preserves and open spaces and in 2009 we're on our way to contributing even more hours.

The San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1995 to represent the interests of off-road bicyclists and other non-motorized trail users in San Diego County. We have become a recognized resource for providing education in trail design, construction and maintenance to land managers and volunteers. We are also recognized for providing education in safe and sustainable practices to trail users. To SDMBA, sustainability includes promoting the quality of life, preserving the environment and enhancing our community.








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