Brushing-back Greenhorn

Last winter’s snows crushed trees and left the trails in the valley crisscrossed with timber. Some of that wood is big, and requires chainsaws to remove, but a lot of the trees are little and green. Snow-loads often bend such saplings into trail travel-ways. Removing these smaller trees requires lighter tools, but it still takes quite an effort to clear trails that are jammed-up with plants.

Forest Service sawyers cutting out Lodgepole Trail following the 2007 Castle Rock fire.

In fire damaged areas, like Greenhorn Gulch, there is a great deal of new growth. Aspen groves thrive following fires, with their vast root systems sending up loads of new shoots. Trees in these areas are all the same age, competing for light, water, and room to grow. Big snows help weed-out the weak, bending them over each other, and allowing some to gain an advantage. When a trail passes through one of these groves it can make for quite a tangle.

Volunteers opening up lines-of-sight at a bridge crossing, where previously, oncoming traffic could not be seen.

On Wednesday evening, June 15, volunteers with Sun Valley Appraisal came out to help take care of the encroaching vegetation on the trails in Greenhorn. Both the Castle Rock and Beaver Creek fires ran through Greenhorn, so there are a lot of areas in the drainage where the trails are choked-up with new plant growth.

The volunteers brushed-back the loop formed by the Cow Creek Connector Trail, and the lower portions of the Mahoney, and Greenhorn Trails. They didn’t get the entire loop cut-out that night, so some of the volunteers came back the following day to finish the project. Over the weekend, more volunteer work was carried out in the drainage, this time on the Imperial Trail. If you go up Imperial you will still find an aspen-maze near its low end, but the higher parts of the trail are brushed-back.

Some of the volunteers hiked in to perform the brushing-back work, some rode their bikes in. Volunteer Patti Lousen stops to enjoy the evening’s lovely light. Photo credit: Ridaho.altmedia, Public Domain.

Thank you volunteers Tim Hamilton, Sue Hamilton, Laurie Leman, Shari Kunz, Kyle Kunz, Tom Bowman, Patti Lousen, Dave Bell, and Mary Kim Deffe’.

After we were done with our evening volunteer outing on the trail we gathered back at the trailhead. One thing we talked about was the huge amount of other brushing that needed to be done in the valley. We also talked about the idea that more people could be carrying folding hand-saws, lopers, or hand-pruners with them on outings. For those who like to size themselves up on a group run or ride, with like-minded friends, it could be a point of pride to see if the strongest among a group could get far enough ahead to do a little brushing-back work while they waited for the gang to catch up. That is just one idea of many that you might come up with to get some work done, while enjoying your next group, or solo outing. Heck, play leap-frog (please, not literally…well, if you set your sharp tools aside…) and see who can cut-out the most saplings. If you do any work, let me know so that we don’t send others out to do what is already done.

If you do any work, cut trees and plants off as close to the ground as possible, and leave a short, blunt stub. Don’t turn something that was inconvenient into a trip hazard. Don’t leave a sharp stub, as doing so might contribute to an injury, should someone happen to fall onto it.

The next volunteer work event is scheduled for this coming weekend, Saturday, June 24, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Meet at the Fox Creek Trailhead. The Wood River Bicycle Coalition is hosting a work session on the Fox Creek Trail. The volunteers will be assisting the Ketchum Ranger District with the repair of flood damaged portions of the trail; where two footbridges have been washed-out. A reroute of the trail will be built, replacing the need for the bridges. A BBQ will follow the work session. For more info check out the Volunteer Info page at the BCRD Summer TraiLink site, or contact me, BCRD WRVTC Chris Leman. Call/text208/7207713 or