Members of the Trail Conference’s 2015 Conservation Corps trail crews began training in May and are hard at work building and improving trails throughout the region all summer long. Here’s what they’re up to and where you can find—and join!—them on the trails this season.
Palisades Trail Crew
The AmeriCorps members of the Palisades Trail Crew—Kirsty Fuquay, Trudy Heinrichs, Kayla Hall, and Sabina Cardenas—are inviting volunteers to join them at Sterling Forest State Park. The Palisades Crew is working on the final segment of the Doris Duke Trail loop in the wilderness preserve of the same name. Thereafter, they will restore and repair existing trails, as well as build the new multi-use Eagle Mountain Trail in the southern part of the park. Field-based tread and drainage workshops will be held each month, giving attendees an in-depth understanding of the principles of drainage and erosion mitigation in the rainy Northeast.
Taconic Trail Crew
The Taconic Crew is serving in Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands state parks on The Appalachian Way Trail (a connector trail to the Appalachian Trail) and the Wilkinson Trail (the last leg of the very popular Breakneck Ridge Loop). The AmeriCorps members are Rebecca Radtke, Jake Rawdin, Matt Simonelli, and Chris Bush, whose work consists of rerouting, sidehilling, constructing stone steps and stepping stones, armoring, paving, and restoring trails. Rebecca explains, “We really dig trails, so we’re really excited to be out there improving them.”
The Megalithic Trail Crew
The Megalithic Trail Crew has six AmeriCorps members serving on the Bear Mountain Trails Project (BMTP) in 2015: Joseph Knight, Ellie Pelletier, Kevin Stamey, Jerrica Lavooy, Amanda Finley, and Michael Betros. First, they kicked off their season on the Upper East Face relocation of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) on Bear Mountain. In July, the crew will be done with 60% of the Upper East Face and out of funds for that portion of the BMTP. They will then move down to the Trails for People Interpretive Exhibit on the A.T. near the Bear Mountain Inn. The crew will finish this project by late fall, transforming an eyesore into an educational plaza.
Long Path/Shawangunk Ridge Trail Crew
The Long Path/Shawangunk Ridge Trail Spike Crew’s AmeriCorps members—Stephen Buja, Lily Hurley, Christopher Wilson, and Porter Fitch—are working on trail projects throughout Sullivan and Ulster counties in New York State. The crew lives in tents, cooks under a kitchen tarp, and hikes to the worksite each day. Project sites include: the Mine Hole Trail, where sections of this footpath flood heavily in wet seasons, making for a muddy, difficult hike; the South Gully Trail, which needs a quarter mile of sidehilling to level the trail and provide erosion control; and sections of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) south of Ferguson Road, which needs steps, sidehilling, and stepping stones or a bog bridge to manage flooding and erosion. In Huckleberry Ridge State Park, the crew hopes to extend the Lenape Ridge Trail to connect to a new parking lot and build an additional mile of the SRT. You can find the LP/SRT crew at work through July.
This crew, funded through a generous grant from REI, was the Trail Conference’s first Conservation Corps Spike Crew. Each week, a spike camp was set up in the woods and the crew would hike to the work site. The crew lived in tents, cooked under a kitchen tarp, used their food bucket as a seat and did a lot of manual labor. Members of the crew worked in all-weather including heat and extreme rain.
Invasives Strike Force
The Invasives Strike Force (ISF) Summer Crew AmeriCorps members—Shelby Timm, Cody Mendoza, Justin Dennis, and Brian Miglorino—help plan and lead the ISF Trail Crew’s volunteer work trips on weekends. They’re slated to hold over a dozen work days this summer. They also serve as the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management’s (PRISM) early detection species response team for invasive plants that are new to the area and will be dealing with several populations, such as hardy kiwi, giant hogweed, and scotch broom. The team will work in 17 parks in nine counties.
What is the Conservation Corps?
AmeriCorps members serving as part of the Trail Conference Conservation Corps receive a high-quality learning experience while performing meaningful service throughout our parks. Their extensive training includes improving trail and land quality through sustainable building and restoration solutions as members of our trail crews. Through that experience, they become leaders in recruiting, training, and retaining a diverse pool of volunteers for the Trail Conference. AmeriCorps members do not replace staff or existing volunteers, but aid and enhance our existing capacities.
Our Conservation Corps trail crews are on the trails Friday through Monday; most will be serving through mid-October. Check out the Trail Conference website for more details and info on how to join them.