Trail School for Groundwork Dallas

Posted by Ryan Spates in S&S Trails Blog on Mar. 25, 2009 - 7:16 pm

S&S Trails was contacted again by Casie Pierce of Groundwork Dallas to teach a trail school to the latest team of AmeriCorps staff members. They were in town to continue work on the new community trail in the Trinity Forest on the south side of town. Our goal, after training the six friendly, energetic young people, was to create a connector trail to serve two purposes; 1) to make a path through the dense woods to allow the AmeriCorps team to carry out a large pile of tires that had been dumped in the site over several years so that they could be disposed of properly and 2) to leave behind a sustainable, safe footpath for residents in the cul de sac at the top of the hill to be able to access the trail that had already been constructed further down the slope in the woods. The classroom portion of the training on Sunday went quite well. The class was comprised of Team Leader Ken and the crew members Dward, Jess, Nicole, Danielle, and Rachel. Casie also stayed for most of the class, and we were also joined by Karen Woodard, who is the newly hired City Forester for the city of Dallas.

At the end of the classroom session we had lunch, and then we headed out to the forest to begin the applied fieldwork part of the course. The class had paid close attention and picked up the concepts very quickly. Several of them commented with surprise on how much was involved in the design and construction of sustainable trail. Most of them were hikers and there was one horsewoman in the bunch, and they all commented that they would view their future trail use experiences with a different perspective from now on.

Monday morning bright and early we met the crew to begin digging in the flag line they had designed the afternoon before. The vegetation corridor we needed to clear was very thick and the initial hill slope was over 45% in places with hard rocky soil; that was very hard stuff to dig in! However the team persevered and got a nice 3-foot wide bench cut roughed in before lunch time. After a much-needed break, we decided to jump ahead to a part of the flag line further down the slope, where the gradients shallowed out and the soil changed to beautiful, easy-to-cut backland prairie type dirt. The sheer amount of digging was still a challenge, but the payoff was evident much more quickly, and fortunately the team’s motivation to do a good job remained high. They completed a significant portion of the trail, and know what they need to do to finish it off over the next couple weeks along with their other community service projects. S&S Trails plans to return around the end of May to check in with the crew and review their progress before they head on to their next assignment. It’s always a pleasure to partner with Groundwork Dallas and the AmeriCorps team, and this trip was no exception.