S&S Trails completed the horse trail reroutes that were begun last fall. The construction process was plagued by delays due to bad weather and some bureaucratic challenges to overcome, but fortunately we were able to work hard when we were allowed to do so and we managed to complete everything by the March 1 deadline.
The project completion deadline had to do with the fact that some of the proposed reroutes were located in golden cheeked warbler habitat, an endangered songbird that nests in the hill country region during the spring. Federal and state guidelines mandate that no mechanized equipment can be used in those habitat regions from March 1 through September to prevent interfering with the birds’ nesting and mating patterns. Therefore we were on tight schedule to get everything completed in a timely manner to comply with regulations enforced by the state park’s regional resources manger.
We’ve had a good crew working with us on various projects for the past several months, and with the help of Mark, Bruce, and Joe we were able to complete the chainsaw work and tread construction very efficiently. We also had the pleasure of working with Park Assistant Manager Barrett Durst, who volunteered some time on his day off to come pull brush for us while Susan ran the saw.
Part of this reroute project was more complicated than the prior ones last fall due to a number of factors. First, it was almost a 2 mile hike out to the work site every morning, and then of course a 2 mile hike back out at the end of the day. Fortunately our crew guys are fit and very outdoorsy themselves, and they usually enjoyed the walk and commented on how nice our “office” was. Second, there were two creek crossings that required additional time and effort to cross in a sustainable manner. One of them was solved by installing a rock armored crossing that turned out quite nicely. The other required a steep bench cut into the creek bank to allow horses to get to the narrow running creek and step over it. To prevent loss of soil into the creek and damage to the riparian environment, we very carefully excavated a huge amount of dirt at the crossing using the new Bradco tilt-attachment on our dozer bucket and placed the excavated soils out of sight away from the new trail. Progress was slow, but at the end of the day we had a nice new section of trail that will allow horses to get a drink and then cross over the creek, while avoiding the old section of trail that had become so eroded that it was dangerous for all users.
We also enjoyed meeting with the Friends of the Park group during the project to give them an update, and they reported being very happy with the work we’ve done on the trails in the past. Hopefully they will enjoy the latest addition to the trail system, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the park staff and the Friend’s group.