Sign in to follow this  
jklucky2001

Elk Creek Work Party #3

Recommended Posts

Well, a couple weekends ago we finished up with the Elk Creek crossing project our Mid Valley OET chapter has been working on.

A little history - last spring my husband was riding my horse and I was following him on my daughter's pony, our son was on Cache for her last ride before we put her out to pasture for her retirement. We were doing a trail clearing work party with our OET chapter, clearing downed trees from the trails on the Old Santiam Wagon Road. This is one of our favorite places near a horse camp we built and maintain. My husband was first and rode out on the Elk Creek Bridge... I saw the bridge swaying and a bucking with my horses hoof falls. I stopped the pony and told everyone behind me - look out! Go single file one at a time! Our group of 5 riders was a little ahead of our second group of about 5 riders, to spread the work out a little. I had a radio and called back to the other group about the bridge. They stopped and got off to check it out more closely after we had crossed and moved on down the trail... One of them used his pocket knife to poke one of the stringers supporting the bridge and he said it easily sucked in 2-3 inches of his pocket knife. We informed the forest service the bridge was unsafe for horse travel and had very limited time left to keep spanning Elk Creek.

This winter we were tasked with taking out and replacing the bridge. This is a pretty low elevation area, where there is limited snow that comes and goes with the coastal influenced rains. Our original plan was to pull out the bridge during January, saving the decking and handrails to reuse, put in new stringers we were going to make out of two cedar trees in the area in February, and then put the original decking and hand rails back on the stringers in March. This area is a historic road outside the wilderness boundaries, first traveled by teams and wagon trains, so we were allowed to bring in a small tractor to help. Nothing bigger would have fit down the trails without major ground clearing.

We found out the decking and hand rails were already more than 50% rotted so putting them back would have been short lived and not worth the effort. The FS has very limited funds and could not afford the $$ for the materials to replace the bridge. We have estimated that if we had not done this as FS volunteers it would have cost $20,000 to $30,000 for the work we already did and an additional $50,000 for materials and labor to put the bridge back in place using shop rates for the hours of work this bridge entailed. Since this area is lightly used and to preserve the natural experience for the trail rider or hiker the FS decided to take out the bridge and replace it with a creek crossing. This is a practice that is happening all over the US on federal lands. The cost to maintain and build bridges and culverts is too high and natural creek crossings are prefered where possible. Thankfully the two magnificent Cedars are still standing out there in the forest as we were not going to fall them until we were ready to de-bark them and use them.

So now after that novel (sorry) onto the pictures from our third work party!

Many hands make light work in everything! We spread out, some people 'disposed' of the old bridge materials, by disposing of them over edges and cliffs out of sight, some started moving boulders in the creek to make the crossing and others started building the trail to gradually go down into the creek from both sides.

ElkCrWP3001.jpg

ElkCrWP3003.jpg

ElkCrWP3004.jpg

ElkCrWP3010.jpg

Here is myself the FS ranger and a woman moving a boulder in the creek with pry bars and some pulling help from a rope and more people.

ElkCrWP3016.jpg

Someone digging a small boulder out with a polaski.

ElkCrWP3025.jpg

Even my kids helped out. Here they are working with a man leveling and clearing the trail down to the creek. It was so nice seeing them work together and accomplish something without bickering... Except when we sat down for lunch there was a small spat about which one got to eat what ;)

ElkCrWP3033.jpg

The trail with rock retaining wall we built on the north side. A job well done!

ElkCrWP3034.jpg

Hiking out through the oh so pretty moss covered trees and ferns!

ElkCrWP3044.jpg

ElkCrWP3048.jpg

I hope you enjoyed our work party half as much as I did! It feels so good to take on a big volunteer project and complete it and make everyone's trail experience that much better!

Whoo Hooo!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

YAHOO!!!!! Job very well done! boy it sure is beautiful there. I love the moss covered everything!! LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest cowpony01

I've noticed online how the OET does alot of trail work. That is great what you guys do and have done! There is maybe one group around here that does trail and camp maintenance and that's on the other pass, not ours. Wish more would be willing to take insentive to do that, and trying to find one to join and work on that does that type of stuff. I do some by myself as I ride, but you can only do so much solo...Way to go you guys! [Yay]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Not Worthy] That's fantastic! How wonderful to see a group come together to work so hard to preserve the trails. Those trees are beautiful, I love that whole area!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great job! Thank you to you and everyone for doing that for my, and the public's, benefit. I appreciate it.

I was in charge of scheduling trail maintenance for my local Backcountry Horsemen group for a three years or so, and I appreciate the amount of hard work you put in on that project. I also appreciate that the lovely moss covered rocks were probably very slippery, making the project all the trickier. And kudos to you for rearing the next generation of trail appreciators.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WOW!!!!!

Jk, you deserve a big thanks from everyone, and a cold one when you're ack in camp. So often we hear a lot of B--chin and the "someone ought to fix that" from many, but as the saying goes;

"someone should do it,

nobody did it,

so everyone can use it,

and since someone SHOULD have done it,

He doesn't deserve to use it,

but now it's done and all is well"

Kudo's to all who worked so hard!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is SO awesome how everyone pitched together to work on keeping the riding trails so nice. Loved all the pictures...can you say MUD! It's so foreign to see all that brown slippery wet stuff. I do have to say what a beautiful place you live in and get to ride and enjoy. Thanks for sharing pics!! Great job :notworthy: :notworthy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aww Thanks everyone! We really have a lot of fun on these work parties. We really should take the word work out of them and replace it with something else!

Cowpony, make sure you are careful when working alone. It can be very dangerous! But yeah I know sometimes ya gotta take matters into your own hands when no one else is going to!

Horsin - Yeah BCH is very similar to OET. They do more political rallying and stuff of that nature, OET is not allowed to do that because of our non profit status, not sure why BCH can, but that is OK with me, we need politicing for horse groups so I am glad they do that! We work with BCH side by side in the woods often. They are a great group. One man we certified to run cross cut saw in BCH in central OR, spent all his free weekends last summer going out into the woods clearing trail with just him and his wife! We were so happy to hear he put in so much work with the training!

Siseley - Loved that quote! You are so right!

Utah - Yeah the mud can get old very fast! And it stays around here so long! Between those three work parties I didn't even bother to hose off or wash my backpack and rain gear... Now it is time, better go make friends with the garden hose this weekend and get those things a little cleaner!

But I wouldn't trade our moss and ferns for anything!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OET is not allowed to do that because of our non profit status, not sure why BCH can, but that is OK with me, we need politicing for horse groups so I am glad they do that!

Many volunteer groups have separate groups for non-profit and political action, and their information should clearly state to donors which donations can be written off on taxes and which cannot. This requires separate entities with separate accounting for each.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Not Worthy] How magnanimous! I've always respected you as an amazing trail rider, but you deserve just as much commendation (if not more) for giving back to the trail all that it gives you. I am sitting here in awe right now. All I can say is: Good for you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Horsin'

Thanks for the explanation that makes perfect sense now! You're one smart momma!

Dreamin'

Aw shucks, you're such a sweety! You're gonna give me a big ego! Thank you!

Hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go. We have another work party planed for this coming saturday. We're supposed to spend the morning spreading gravel on trails at McDonald Forest and the afternoon riding it and pruning to high limbs for the tall horse people!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious.... Why did there need to be a bridge to cross the creek? Could the horses not cross?

((...and this is not inteneded to sound rude))

I guess I just like the "natural" trail.. the one nature makes. We ride the shawnee forest here in So Illinos and we're seeing the State come in and make some of the trails wide, put gravel on them, build little bridges and put up signs. In my opinion it's ruining our trails. (not saying what you did ruined any trail) Just saying I hate what their doing to our trails. I like the natural way the land is. Horses can cross, climb and get through pretty steep and pretty rough places. ..and that's part of the fun of trail riding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trailhoss, you point out some interesting dicotomies:

On the one hand, forest managers are putting in "improvements" to help preserve aspects of the landscape. For instance, putting in a bridge or putting down gravel on a trail will help keep manure, dirt, other light-obscuring matter, out of streams. The clearer the water, the healthier for fish and other aquatic animals.

But on the other hand, around where I live, are lots of wildnerness areas, and the forest managers are NOT ALLOWING anyone to maintain trails. The movement is to allow the landscape to return to "pre-European conditions." So trails, especially the ones above the timber line (above 8,000 ft or so) are being lost--on purpose. It's distressing! Equestrians are not supposed to go "off trail" and yet we are not allowed to fix trails--it's a way of banning us from the wilderness, even though the Wilderness Act of 1964 SPECIFICALLY STATES that equestrians are one of the protected activities in wilderness areas.

"Pre-European conditions" were being taken one step further here in California for a while. Someone was burning down cow camp cabins. There are still lease permits, some of which have been held by the same families for over 100 years, and many of these leaseholders have historic cabins, some of which are/were close to 150 years old. The cabin burning stopped when someone started torching ranger stations.

If you want to know more about the "re-classification" of wilderness trails, go to: Backcountry Horsemen of America and click on "Trails Standards Comments" and "Trails Classification Lawsuit"

By the way, you (equestrians) have a full time lobbyist in Washington D.C. hired by the American Horse Council. Their lobbyists are working on recreational issues too.

Support the organizations that support us. YOU BET the off roaders and mountain bikers donate boatloads of money to their lobbying organizations. In California, when a toy hauler is sold, the dealer adds on a "voluntary" payment of $25 for a sticker (although the buyer is either not told it's voluntary or told that it goes to support off roading) and the money goes to an offroad organization. Equestrians needs to have a sticker program for every horse trailer sold!

We need to put some money behind our causes too.

Edited by HorsingRound

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trailhoss,

No offense taken, that is an excellent question. It all has to do with the size of the river or creek, the footing in the water crossing and on the sides and the % grade or slope of the trail and the surrounding hills.

I am quite surprised the land managers in your area are favoring bridges over natural crossings. That is quite opposite of our area. The signs and the gravel are probably for the city folks and hikers who might get lost without good signage and get mud on their fancy tennis shoes!

In our area the forest managers prefer to keep trail grades to less than 5% when possible. The cross slope and the trail slope combine into some magical number I have never cared to understand how it is calculated, but according the the FS that combination should not be over 20% slope. The reason the bridge was put in here historically is probably because of the old model T's more than anything. This had been a wagon trail trail and although there are places in this area where we see evdience of the wagon teamers putting in bunkers to support bridges, we don't see that here. But when cars started to be developed they also drove through this trail, most likely they could not have made it accross this crossing because of the grade and the large boulders. Now the rock crawlers people build these days would probably have a ball in there. But they would tear it up and make it ugly...

Here are some pictures to show you this crossing. The bridge we took out was not the original one the cars crossed. We saw evidence that one bridge had already been replaced there before, and maybe even more. The wood in bridges in this area with little to no maintenance probably only lasts 5-10 yrs before it needs to be replaced. That is a big factor in the decision to prefer natural crossing over bridges.

See under the old bridge, this was a pretty steep grade and has large boulders.

ElkCrWP030.jpg

ElkCrWP3042.jpg

ElkCreekBridge001.jpg

We built this retaining wall to bring the trail upstream around a large boulder and make the slope of the trail more gradual. With any luck the water will never get high and verocious enough and not wash this out. If it does we will be back working on it.

ElkCrWP3034.jpg

Our new trail goes upstream a ways compared to the old trail to make the slope more gradual. We also had to move some large boulders to make the crossing better for the horses and hikers. We used fist and smalled size rocks that we excavated from the hillside to make the crossing about ankle deep and good horse footing. During low flow during the summer hikers will be able to hop accross on big boulders. But those are not good for horses legs. High flow during the winters might move some more boulders in and we might need to go back occasionally to move them and fix the crossing. But that is still less work and money than a bridge.

Don't even get me started on the 20% slope max restriction. I know all our horses are perfectly capable of climbing through more. But it has to do with the soil types we have and the precipitation and erosion issues more than anything. The land managers are trying to manage the forest for future recreationists and resource perservation. So that is what they have determined is best for our environment.

In other climates and soil types that might be different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this