Sunday, February 7, 2010

CFPA Winter Trails Workshop

I went to Connecticut Forest & Parks Association's winter trails workshop in Middlefield yesterday. There were about 60 volunteers who maintain trails & open spaces from around the state to listen to a variety of topics. The meeting room at CFPA Headquarters was filled - here's a photo from one of the breaks. I'm sorry that I had to miss the Nicholdale Marshmallow Roast & Hike in Shelton, but I'd never been to one of these workshops before & it was really worthwhile.

Laurie Giannotti from the DEP did an informative talk on the Recreational Trails Program; this is the program that Shelton has used to fund a number of the improvements on the Recreation Path. Ann Faust of Community Consulting did an insightful presentation on grant writing (I wish that I had had a lot of these tips earlier). Christine Woodside did a great presentation on how to communicate with the public on your trails (and I don't say that because she liked our Shelton Trail Committee Blog). She also used Teresa Gallagher's map for Riverview Park as an example of what a clear trail maps should look like. I handed out some of Rich's Trail Com. business cards.

There were a number of exhibits and props arrayed around the room. I liked this one with the models of the various types of trail bridges, and it tied in nicely with Bob Schoff's talk about the structures that the roving trails crews have built.

Did I mention that they had tools? With safety guards over the sharp blades no less! Elaine LaBella did an animated demonstration on how to use the various instruments of destruction without hurting someone. We may have to work on Bill Dyer's technique with the grass cutter this year. We had a fun back and forth discussion about how many tools are enough, and whether Rob Butterworth needs a new chain saw. (The guys all said yes). Bottom line was to use what you're comfortable with to get the job done. I was reminded of the episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe that I had just seen; Safety Third.

Rob also went over good tips for planning & managing work parties, and trail safety. In general, we are pretty good, but we just might be able to improve our safety techniques a tad. We could at least improve our volunteer retention at work parties by counting that we're bringing as many people out of the woods as we took in. Here's an example of a sign they put across the trail on either side of the work zone - this would've been handy when we were taking out the blow down on the RecPath last week.

Rob lead walk on CFPA's trails out back at lunchtime. They have a nice grove of handicapped accessible trails out there that they use for education events.

Oh, and look at CFPA's tool barn. Stanley Tools donated $10,000 to CFPA for this beauty, PLUS gave them a bunch of tools for their work. And I thought we were doing good with our funky old Red Barn. Imagine if some business or developer volunteered to fix up the White House at Nells Rock Road as the Shelton Lakes Greenway Center what a positive impact it would have on our community. Everybody from around the state was oohing and aahing at the Stanley Tools tool shed at CFPA yesterday. Now that's good advertising.

It was a good workshop & I'm grateful to everybody at CFPA for putting it on. Thank you Terri Peters, Eric Hammerling, Rob, Laurie, Elaine, Clare, Christine, Ann & everybody else who helped. CFPA is Connecticut's oldest environmental organization that takes care of over 825 miles of Blue Blazed trails in Connecticut - all with volunteers and a small but dedicated paid staff.

And thanks for the doughnuts.

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