1. Thanks for coming to Agriculture Appreciation Day and Transportation Fair. About 2000 people visited Ag Day spread over a 6-hr time span. It was great to see everyone. We had our self-guided farm trail tour set up online for use on people's smartphones to play with. (proof of concept still)
2. Most importantly, the new Bearberry Bluff trail is mostly done and mostly open. The main entrance is off the Long Lake Connector between the middle picnic table and the UAF Farm boundary (no university property involved) - look for laminated signs on lath.
HOWEVER, we do ask that equestrians refrain from using it with their horses until June next year, after breakup. The trail is intended to be for everyone - once the surface is compacted enough to support horses. It's a simple pounds per square inch issue. The reason is that the soils are still soft in a couple areas. Where horses have been on the unfinished trail, they left some holes, which may need to be repaired. Feel free to hike or mountain bike in the area to help compact the soils.
The trail was designed along contours to reduce the steepness of the hills. Mark is HOPING that the gentler gradient will reduce impacts of the sharp horse hooves on hills to reduce some of the mixed use concerns of the past. So please give it a chance to harden.
There may be some ongoing improvements out there - like eradicating two bee's nests (if Thursday's treatment didn't work). But it's mostly touchup work.
Please stay on the trail don't cut any turning points. Most of the corners are fairly well protected.
We do recognize that the new trail crosses a social trail used by horses and others. Because of the steepness of the backslope at that point on the new trail, the trail builders put some steps in to keep the social trail from eroding onto the new trail. HOWEVER, they did put a bypass around the steps for horses in there on Thursday. So you should be able to continue to use the social trail. Just follow the signs for the detour. Thanks!
We don't have the permanent directional signs and posts up yet. (may need a volunteer day, but not sure) There are laminated signs on lath. It's not on our online map yet, but I do have the gps track so I should have it up sometime next week. (new .pdf and printed maps aren't happening until winter when new MSB imagery is available)
Thanks to the MSB for the funding and especially to Mark Gronewald for designing the trail and working with MSB trail crew, SCA crew, and an Interagency Trail Crew training as well as a few volunteers from VMBaH to build the trail. When you spend time working on a trail, you begin to appreciate the work that it takes.
3. Farm Access. Please remember that parking at the farm should be near the main building where the trailhead sign is or right in front of the building. Please do not go past the UAF sign restricting unauthorized vehicle access. Apparently a few people have actually been driving on the trails / farm roads. The farm has started locking some of the gates again to keep out motorized activity. We may need to revise some of the wording on the maps so it's clear that the Farm roads and MSB monitor well roads are utility roads for the land owners that we can use as trails, but are not motorized for the general public. (This came up on Ag Day.)
4. Trails plans. The process for the Mat-Su Borough Trails Master Plan for the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation has started. The consultant has started meeting with some individuals, and subregional meetings are expected in early October (maybe late September). There are also things going on with a new Crevasse-Moraine parking lot and management plan (two different projects). I don't know the status of these last two, but hope to have more information next week. I wanted to let you know about Bearberry Bluff first. I will let you know as soon as I know when there are public meetings that involve the Matanuska Greenbelt.
Be aware that's there's several other plans in various stages: Palmer Trails (done?), Chickaloon (finishing up), Jim Creek Parcel (in
process) - and probably some others. IOW, be sure you're aware of what trails plan someone is talking about. We're hoping that all of these plans actually get implemented and not just collect dust.
Enjoy the trails and have a great weekend.