By Raina Stoutenburg, Central South Westchester Trail Supervisor
I spent the summer of 2014 working on a New York-New Jersey Trail Conference trail crew through AmeriCorps and greatly enjoyed the experience. From getting a chance to build and fix beautiful trails, to getting to work outdoors, to getting to spend my time with some great people, there were so many reasons to love working on the trails!
After the summer, I returned to the teaching profession. As much as I love teaching, I missed doing trail work, so I started to help out trail crews on the weekends. That’s when a friend of mine told me that the Trail Conference was looking for a trail supervisor for the Central South Westchester region. I jumped at the opportunity.
While I’m still new to the position, I’m enjoying it so far. I am responsible for supervising the maintainers of trail systems in three locations: Cranberry Lake, Merestead, and Westmoreland. I started at Cranberry Lake by meeting Danniela Ciatto, the curator there, who has been really helpful and supportive.
I went to Cranberry Lake in early spring to fix a step on a bird observation tower and to get to know the trails and their needs. Unfortunately, after hiking out there, the old step was too cracked to be usable. However, I was able to take it back to the nature lodge so we could measure it to get a new one. I hiked some more and found some areas that needed new trail markers and some downed trees that would need a chainsaw to remove.
It’s nice being able to make decisions and solutions for trails, as well as doing some of the trail work. While part of my job is to make sure the maintainers do their jobs and hand in their paperwork, I also need to make suggestions, do repairs, and work with the staff at each park to maintain and improve the trails.
Since starting, I have met with several of the trail maintainers that I oversee and spent time walking each of their trails with them–a great way to get to know both them and their trails. While we walked, we talked about the work they have done and some possible improvements that could be made in the future. They’re wonderful people and very dedicated to keeping our trails well-maintained!
We still need some more trail maintainers for this region, so please contact Volunteer Coordinator John Leigh (firstname.lastname@example.org, 201.512.9348 x22) if you’re interested.