The last of the metal directional signs were installed Thurs morning - before the afternoon snow and wind. :) We still have a few small things yet this year - couple donor name plates, trailhead posters, and get materials to Job Corps for the remaining two trailhead structures. The trailhead posters will help out with map at trailhead as well as etiquette. But the vast majority of the work is done - after 3 yrs.
Next meeting is Dec 14. 6pm at the Farm.
This freed us up for the meeting on Wed to discuss where we want to go from here - if anywhere.
A trails plan was brought up and supported by everyone. We now have more people out there in more places, now that people aren't afraid of getting lost and know of the existence of some of these trails. This is good. We'd better like to figure out things with existing trails and usage. We also have a landfill expanding onto the trails, a gravel pit at eastern border which may become a subdivision, a potential site of new Gateway Visitor / Community Center, and probably some things we aren't aware of. We'd like to design trails to go on the revegetated landfill cells as they are reclaimed, and perhaps try to encourage a non-motorized connector through any subdivision in the reclaimed gravel pit. IOW, we'd like to be pro-active. Many of the following topics could be aspects of a formal trails plan or implemented independently of it.
New trails. MSB has proposed some new trails in the Greenbelt Central parcel and is submitting a proposal for funding. MSB also anticipates being able to train volunteers for trailwork. This is a part of their volunteer program, but was not implemented in the past. This is a benefit of MSB now having a Trails Program Coordinator (Mark Gronewald). Since MSB trails crew works on Saturday, they could have trained volunteer help on some of those days. This will be a great way of getting more people more involved in the trails and creating more ownership.
Trail maintenance / patrols. People and/or organizations may sign up for trails for certain time periods. This could be a year-long commitment or perhaps summer only or winter only. We could promote that group by a posting at the trailhead, like you see along highways.
We'd probably break the trail system down into manageable units, say lower loops of CMT, Mooseberry Mesa, Long Lake Loop, whatever. The responsible volunteers would cruise their trail during their time period - looking for downed trees or other trail maintenance needs, vandalism, anything suspicious, whatever.
At the very least, they would report to the land owner that something needs to be done or anything suspicious. IF they are qualified for actual maintenance, they may be able to fix whatever - like maybe remove a downed tree with a handsaw. Chainsaw activity requires certain training. Details will obviously take awhile to work out.
Reporting trail issues. The state and borough really would like us to contact them if there's trail issues. We are their eyes on the trails. Their phone numbers are posted at their trailheads as well as on the 10.5x12in map signs on the double posts. It saves them time in having to cruise the trails if they know where the issues are. How to report the location: if you've got a gps with you, you could give that lat/long; or you could indicate which trail you're on and which connection you're closest to; or some other mechanism. We'll work on the details. We might be able to do this in a higher tech manner eventually, but start out simple. While our signs get you back to your car (if you remember where you parked it), there's still some challenges identifying exactly where you are to someone else. One step at a time. ;)
Map signs on double posts. These mostly face north to make it easier for people to orient themselves. However, it wasn't possible in all locations to orient them that way, so they may face south, east, or west. I was going to add some comment (probably a laminated sign) indicating which direction north is. That hasn't happened yet and has low priority. They contain phone numbers for 911, Alaska State Troopers, and the land manager. They also point to where you are, have the lat/long (in format that Emergency Services folks use), and have a descriptor name (somewhat arbitrary, will mean nothing to EMS) where that post is. I'll try to get some of this stuff out on maps - "sometime" (trying to catch up with life at the moment).
Surveillance system. Because of the vandalism and theft issues at a couple of the trailheads, it's been proposed to look into some sort of surveillance system. Some can be high tech and expensive to install, maintain, and monitor. Others, like wildlife cameras / webcams, can be a lot less expensive. This will require a lot of homework. Originally, it was brought up as an individual item. Then it was suggested to make it part of the trails plan.
Palmer Collaborations. We should reach out more to the City of Palmer for collaborations. They are working on a trails plan. They would like connectivity to CMT as well as safe ways for kids to get to school and use various facilities. There are also other potential connectors farther south. They've shown their willingness to work on trails with the bike pump track in Palmer. They also have a lease on the France Road property, which at one time had been considered for trails and trailhead to expand CMT. This would be nice if we can come up with a win-win situation for everyone. The Matanuska Greenbelt is a prime recreational area for residents of the city proper as well as the surrounding areas.
Donation program. Some would like to make tax-deductible donations to the trails on a regular basis and perhaps larger donations (like wills). Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation (MSTAPF) was established partly to provide a mechanism for people to donate to trails. Right now MGT is not a 501c3, and attendees last night preferred to focus on getting things done than creating another level of bureaucracy. (this is an annual question, with the same answer) It has advantages and disadvantages. So far, we have been doing grants and our Buy a Posts through VMBaH. We have started a subaccount with MSTAPF, but details on getting funds back out still need to be worked out for long-term situations.
Education / youth. Two different topics but intertwined. We'd like to reach out to kids and get them involved so they feel ownership for the trails and respect them. This would include activities as well as learning about outdoor etiquette and natural resources But there's also a component of educating adults about same things. Mat Lake has been available for nature education for elementary school kids, Farm has had 4H encampments, Mat-Su College had a well-labelled nature trail and still has an arboretum and working on Tree Campus USA status. Geocaching and earthcaching can fit in here as educational activities. This is one of those things that's taken a backseat to signs for awhile.
It was also discussed about how to get more security-like presence - either a uniformed patrol or park ranger or whatever.
So, yes, the group wants to move on to other goals - lots of exciting goals that need to be prioritized or have different folks in charge of different parts. It was exciting to see all the land owners there and talking with each other.
And it was sure nice to discuss something besides signs. :) Hope to see you on the trails.
Meeting Summaries >