The Invisible Work Behind a Well-Maintained Trail
Covid-19 shifted how we’re stewarding trails this summer. Support our two-man trail crew as they tackle trail projects alone.
On the Trail
Hiking with my 4-year-old, we go slow enough to notice every flower and tree along the way. It’s also a pace slow enough to notice every culvert, french drain, turnpike, and carefully built tread. I find myself analyzing whether the log removed from the trail was cut with a chainsaw, pulaski, or ax.
The fact is, the hard work of a well-maintained trail is largely invisible.
We all notice (and complain) when we’re slogging through mud, climbing over fallen trees every 10 feet, or spend 20 minutes looking for a “lost” trail overgrown with brush. When we’re cruising along, enjoying the time of our lives, and taking in the views, the hard work that keeps these trails in tip-top shape is hard to see.
On the Trail with MWA's Trail Crew
These days, it’s especially tough to keep our trails in great shape. In recent years, U.S. Forest Service budgets have been drastically cut, reducing the number of trail crews out on the land. And with Covid-19, many organizations that planned to help out with trails just can’t get the work done.
Here at MWA, we’d normally be out on the trail with 150 volunteers this summer. And while we’re hoping we can still get out with volunteers for the second half of the season, we had to cancel our first several projects. Instead, our two-person staff crew is out doing as much work as they can. So far, Matt and Sonny have cleared over 250 trees from nearly 30 miles of trail. Their work has opened trails in the Southern Cabinet Mountains, Scapegoat Wilderness, and along the Continental Divide Trail in the Nevada Mountain Recommended Wilderness. We need your help to make sure these projects get fully funded.
Thanks to more than 30 people – previous volunteers, Wilderness Walkers, and trail lovers of all stripes – we’ve raised 41% of our goal. We need your help to get the rest of the way.
Can you give $32, the amount it takes to feed a crew for a week? Or $70, the amount it takes to sponsor a half-day of trail work? Whatever you give, your dollars will supplement our grant funds, going the extra mile to make sure that the next time you hit your favorite Montana trail, it’ll be in tip-top shape.
And if you’re hitting the trail this weekend to celebrate the start of summer, find trails less traveled on hikewildmontana.org. You can also contribute to our online hiking guide by submitting new trails and trail reports.
Kassia leads MWA's grant portfolio and supports donor stewardship. She writes reports and proposals, identifies new funding sources, and helps develop strategies to generate support for our programs. She's a backpacker, canoeist, and cross-country skier, and enjoys exploring Montana's wild backcountry.