2012 was a record year for the Cross Vermont Trail Association. Twice as many people volunteered at trail building work parties than in any previous single year. Nearly 150 individuals, doing pick and shovel work, contributing over 1500 hours of labor. Whoosh!
We planted many hundreds of trees along the Winooski River and Wells River, in areas impacted by the 2011 storms. Thanks to the Intervale Nursery for a very good deal on the "stock".
We learned what "alluvial" means. (It means "easy digging.")
Riparian forests stabilize soils, moderate the erosive power of flood waters, function as important wildlife habitat, and are pretty. In other words, they make the trail work better.
We continued to build back from the damage of the 2011 storms. The trails we help care for are all re-opened, with one glaring exception. But the complete repair, to get things up to a sustainable level, will go on into 2013.
An underlying problem on older sections of trail - trail that has been adapted from pre-existing railbeds, woods roads, and so on - is that the old ditches originally in place along them have often silted up and started to grow saplings. This underlying problem came to the fore in 2011, resulting in expensive washouts. A preventable problem, with an ironical solution. While we planted trees in some places, we turned around and grubbed them out in others. Functioning ditches should be a net gain for the environment, though. When made right, they allow heavy water to flow through non-destructively - as opposed to blowing out huge gullies - mass wasting - and dumping eroded soil into creeks or wetlands.
Meaning, restored to what they were before they were gullies. More work to reverse terrible erosion occurring in many places along the trail route, which has resulted in expanding gullies, which are undermining the structure of the trail (and are ugly.) We are stabilizing the gullies with check dams, and then getting trees and other vegetation established on the bare slopes.
We also got to do some actual new trail work, too, thank goodness. Making trails better, not just fixing damage. "Promote, improve, extend existing local trails with the ultimate goal of a connected statewide network!"
Finally, we continue to work to make trails inviting and easy to use for as many people as possible. This involves not just making them physically more accessible. It also means providing good, easy to find information about their locations and qualities. We've been focused on route signs for many years. Now we are also looking for places where it would be useful to have more descriptive, informative trailhead signs.