Pittsfield Trail Crew!

Hey there everybody!
So far this summer has been a fantastic experience for myself and for the kids I have been leading out into the wilderness.  I am the leader of a group of four high school aged young men from Pittsfield, MA.  Every week Monday-Wednesday we go out into Pittsfield State Forest and help restore and maintain the trails.  The best part may be that the kids are able to get paid for this much-needed work.  We are about 4 weeks into our season and have been doing some interesting and rewarding projects thus far.  The AMC has partnered up with the BYEN (Boston Youth Environmental Network) this summer in order to get the grant needed for the funding of this program to happen.

The first week of trail work brought us out onto the Honwee trail in the State Forest.  This trail is a popular multi-use trail mainly being used by mountain bikers and hikers.   The work conducted on this trail consisted of restoring water bar structures.  A lot of the water bars on this trail had been clogged up over the years with sediment and dead leaves.  We cleaned up about 9 water bars.  We are hoping that now water erosion will ease up.
The second week of work we went out onto the Shadow, Ghost, and Hawthorne trails.  Again these are (non-motorized) multi use trails.  We worked on lopping trail corridors to make the trail more open and easier to walk through.  We also cleaned up more water bars.

The third week we got out onto the Hawthorne trail again to finish up some water bar reconstruction and to learn how to bench cut a trail.  There are parts of the Hawthorne trail that needed to be bench cut again.  Trail creep had ensued.  We also begun to work with NEMBA (NewEngland Mountain Biking Association) this week to help them create a mountain bike trail re-route off of the Taconic Crest Trail.  The kids really enjoyed beginning to work on a new and thrilling project with NEMBA.  It was a nice change of pace for them from previously working on water bars and lopping which at times can get tedious. 
Andrew, Jovan, and Jeremy helping out NEMBA

The fourth week we went out onto the beautiful Vosburgh multi use trail.  This trail goes through a great part of the state forest that is really green and mossy with an awesome creek right along side it with beautiful crystal clear green tinted pools of water. The kids really marveled at this creek and its beauty.  A well-deserved fifteen-minute break happened right along side this creek.    This trail is a popular hiking trail in the forest and hasn’t seen any maintenance in a long time.  A lot of lopping and swizzle sticking was necessary.  It was great to see people out on that trail and have them compliment our trail work.  The kids really liked seeing that because it gave them an actual tangible experience of trail users complementing their work.  It really meant a lot to us. 

That same week the crew and I went to an event in Worcester put on by the BYEN.  This event was a great opportunity for my crew of young people to meet other crews doing the same type of work this summer.  The networking experience for them was tremendous and I think they got a lot out of it and have interest in more green jobs in their futures.  To end the week we got back out on the mountain biking trail and weed whacked and lopped the proposed re –route all the day.  The kids and myself had never started a trail from absolute scratch.  This was a great opportunity to see the whole process in making a new trail. 
the scene at BYEN's youth environmental summit in Worcester
The crew holding it down, with a pick mattock
Our season ends in about 5 weeks.  It will be time well spent.  We hope to finish up a lot of the mountain biking trail with NEMBA.  Next week we'll be out near Hancock Shaker Village restoring some old amphitheater sites on top of Shaker Mountain.  A lot of great connections have been made with different organizations, which is always a plus.  The kids love the trail work and are gaining a newfound respect for the outdoors and how to perform well at a job.  I am also learning a lot about trail work and how to motivate young people to work hard and play hard in return.  What a great summer thus far, many more good times to come.  Expect more updates soon!

Signing out,

Ben Mayer, Pittsfield Trail Crew Leader
AMC Berkshire Trails