Trail maintainers are the Trail Conference’s front line in keeping hiking paths open and safe. They remove blowdowns, clear overgrowth, reblaze trails, and report hazardous conditions and suspicious activity. Some of these defenders of the trails may soon add another skill to their repertoire: invasive species warriors.
On May 6, the Westchester Trail Tramps, led by Mary Dodds, became the first crew to receive invasives training from Linda Rohleder, the Trail Conference’s Director of Land Stewardship and Coordinator of the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management. Keen on her crew gaining the skills to properly identify and remove invasive species along the trails they maintain throughout the Hudson Hills and Highlands region of Westchester and Putnam counties, Dodds enlisted Rohleder for an intro course at the beginning of trail work season. Held at Teatown Lake Reservation, a handful of crew members and high school interns working under their guidance learned about Japanese barberry, garlic mustard, and other species on the New York State Regulated and Prohibited Invasive Species list. After a presentation with plenty of photos and tips, Rohleder took the crew into the field to identify species firsthand. Armed with their new knowledge, Dodds and her team plan to complete an invasives survey of Montrose Point State Forest, which will help in determining the feasibility and prioritization of removal on trails there.
The maintainers’ invasives course that was piloted with the Westchester Trail Tramps is a condensed version of the workshop Rohleder uses to train Invasives Strike Force surveyors, but also includes information about removal strategies. This new course customized for trail maintainers is currently under development; groups of maintainers and trail crews interested in scheduling a workshop at their park should contact Linda Rohleder (firstname.lastname@example.org) to work out details. At this time, the workshop is only offered to Trail Conference maintainers.