Riding down the local trail one fall day, I wondered about the riders I had past along the way, “Do they know who keeps the trail so clean and free of debris? Do they know the cost in dollars, and the number of volunteer hours used to make this a place they enjoy?”
RTC published a study in 2015, “Maintenance Practices and Costs of Rail-Trails” that states when taking into account for volunteers, the maintenance cost on average range from $500 to $1,000 per trail mile per year, depending on surface.
The Erie to Pittsburgh Trail consist of trails that are owned by municipalities and non-profits, both of which typically do not have great resources to maintain trails, and at times struggle to keep up with the tasks to have a trail that people want to use and feel safe.
Trail owners seek funding and volunteers from the usual places such as trail users, local service organizations, local foundations, and the like. However, as funding dwindles and more organizations are in need of volunteers, they need to be looking at the not so usual places to secure the funds and volunteers to keep the trails beautiful. Sometimes help finds you, as the circumstance for the McClintock Trail in Venango County. Extreme Terrain (https://www.extremeterrain.com/clean-trail-initiative-program.html) contacted a number of trail groups offering a small amount of money for trail maintenance, in need of a weed eater for trimming along the trail, the trail owner decided to go for it.
So, can you help? Yes, you can help with your local trail though these opportunities:
· Make a direct contribution to your local trail group.
· Volunteer with your local trail group.
· If your employer offers to match donations, make a donation or collect donations at your place of employment.
· Does your employer give priority for grants to organizations where their employees volunteer? Contact your local trail group and offer to have a sponsored trail volunteer event.
· Do you ever run into small, but different opportunities where a trail organization could obtain volunteers for a project, or get a bit of funding. Maybe it is a scout or service organization looking for a project, or a business such as Extreme Terrain) wanting to provide a small amount of money to make a difference?
· Businesses can contact their local trail group to adopt a trail section
We need trail enthusiast like you. It is keeping our eyes and ears alert to opportunities and letting trail groups know when the opportunities are available, and above all give a few hours of time to help keep that trail you enjoy looking its best! Very little will give you more satisfaction than knowing you have helped keep that piece of paradise beautiful for the next person coming down the trail.