The rumors are true. For the first time ever Barkeater Trails Alliance is fielding a paid, seasonal trail crew to augment the ongoing and tireless efforts of local volunteers. The idea to create paid trail crew positions has been discussed for years as we all recognized that the construction and maintenance requirements of an ever-growing regional trail network would eventually outpace the capacity of our volunteer trail crews. Now it's official.
This spring the Saranac Lake-based Cloudsplitter Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to BETA to support the Trail Crew. This plus support from annual membership contributions and the generosity of a private donor (who matched 50% of the Cloudsplitter grant) have made this idea a reality for the 2017 season. We're calling it "BETA boots on the ground."
Matt Schmidt of Lake Placid was hired in mid-May as BETA's full-time "trail builder". Matt hit the ground running (we knew he would), and will work for 8 weeks. We also created two part-time positions with those roles being filled by Dusty Grant of Lake Placid and Devin James of Vermontville. The hours for the part-time crew will be spread out over the entire summer. Matt, Dusty and Devin have been involved with BETA as volunteers for years and are all experienced trail builders and tradesmen.
The crew is working alongside the Executive Director and volunteers, mostly in Wilmington on projects at the Flume and Hardy Road, as well as the new Quaker Mt. Trail connecting Wilmington to Hardy Road. Additionally, the crew will work on the new bike and ski trails under development on Scott's Cobble in North Elba, and will perform routine maintenance on the various trail networks under BETA's stewardship. Major work completed to date includes a new trail at the Flume connecting the Ridge and Marble Mountain trails, ongoing construction of the Quaker Mt. Trail and the Scott's Cobble trail network, construction of a large wetland bridge at Scott's Cobble, and corridor clearing for a new trail to connect Wilmington to the Flume (which will mostly be constructed by ADK and the Student Conservation Association trail crews).
The value of having paid trail crew support was immediately clear to everyone involved, and BETA will certainly look to sustain and expand this on an annual basis. The ongoing support of our members is crucial to the success of this effort. Thank you in advance for joining or renewing your membership this summer!