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explorer13421
09-26-2004, 09:25 PM
Is there a rule about cutting deadfall across a trail, either an official trail or a herd path? I understand there are legal or Leave No Trace ethical prohibitions on cutting live trees or brush in the Adirondacks. However, trail crews and or DEC personnel routinely cut deadfall across trails. If a recreational hiker comes upon a tree or branch across a trail that can not be pulled off, and then pulls his/her trusty Sven Saw out of his/her pack to cut the tree or branch so it can be removed from the trail, has the recreational hiker broken a legal or ethical rule?

newcomb family
09-26-2004, 09:34 PM
I don't know about any of the rules, but I do know that the Sven Saw is the cream of the crop as far as lightweight, collapsable saws go. They slice through limbs like a hot, knife through soft butter and are very packable.

NH_Mtn_Hiker
09-26-2004, 09:45 PM
Originally posted by explorer13421
Is there a rule about cutting deadfall across a trail, either an official trail or a herd path? I understand there are legal or Leave No Trace ethical prohibitions on cutting live trees or brush in the Adirondacks. However, trail crews and or DEC personnel routinely cut deadfall across trails. If a recreational hiker comes upon a tree or branch across a trail that can not be pulled off, and then pulls his/her trusty Sven Saw out of his/her pack to cut the tree or branch so it can be removed from the trail, has the recreational hiker broken a legal or ethical rule?

No, but you may get a few Thank-you's

snowshoe
09-27-2004, 07:47 AM
There is no problems cutting deadfall on marked trails. I would not do this on herd paths though. Usually a trail has a maintainer but any little extra help like that will always be appreciated.

percious
09-27-2004, 09:54 AM
I always liked using my trusty axe for that job. Certainly gives the trails a more rustic feel.

-percious

smh444
09-28-2004, 10:20 PM
Let's put it this way: If you are a resident of the State then you are as much of a steward of the land as one of your employees (DEC, etc.).

Cutting deadfall anywhere (trail, herdpath or in the middle of nowhere) is perfectly reasonable (and legal as far as I know - except on private property).

So, saw away....nothing makes me happier than a sawed-off horizontal tree at the edge of a trail!

Grumpy
09-28-2004, 10:24 PM
As an old time resident of Manlius, NY, I am delighted to agree with smh444.

G.

David Metsky
09-28-2004, 10:35 PM
Originally posted by smh444

Cutting deadfall anywhere (trail, herdpath or in the middle of nowhere) is perfectly reasonable (and legal as far as I know - except on private property).

As far as I know, this is not true. While I don't think you'd have any problems cutting a blowdown across a maintained trail, you certainly could be in trouble for doing unauthorized maintainence of an abandoned, closed, or unauthorized trail on National Forest land.

-dave-

Grumpy
09-28-2004, 10:44 PM
Dave, you're most likely right. I got carried away with rootin' for a home boy.

Prudence certainly is the real watchword here.

G.

smh444
09-28-2004, 10:59 PM
Don't know about National Forests. In NYS, the only rule I could find concerns firewood: "Use only dead and down wood for fires. Cutting standing trees is prohibited. " (DEC website on backcountry camping). This makes sense; if "dead and down wood" crosses your path, then move it, cut it, burn it, etc.

I agree that prudence is in order...as is a bit of common sense.

snowshoe
09-29-2004, 07:42 AM
It is ilegal to cut downed trees over herd paths in National and State lands. They are not marked trails. By doing that you only encourage the use of that path. By doing that you are considered making a trail and in order to make a trail on public land you need permission and it can be a long process. You can move trees that are in your path just not cut. You can cut any felled tree for the use of firewood, you just cant do it for a herdpath. I agree it is nice having a herd path cleared of down trees but that takes away from the off trail experince. I would rather struggle a little to a trail- less peak. That is whole point of bushwhacking.

Cutting trees on marked trails is a great help for the parks and maintainers. You can always come down to Jersey and help cut some trees from the last 2 storms we had :)

Grumpy
09-29-2004, 08:36 AM
Originally posted by smh444
I agree that prudence is in order...as is a bit of common sense.
Prudence usually = common sense in my book.

Just a note about the Adirondack High Peaks: As a matter of policy, the powers-that-be a while ago decided that each so-called "trailless" summit among the 46 should have one semi- or lightly-maintained "official herd path" to it. These paths are not maintained by the state trail crews, as far as I know. The 46ers (Pete Hickey and company) have been setting out and cutting out these routes for a few years. Common sense whispers in my ear that it should be OK -- at least ethical -- for those who use them to keep those paths open.

G.

TCD
09-29-2004, 08:56 AM
I'm not sure, but I think I might disagree with the logic that says it's OK to move, but not OK to cut, a down tree on a herd path. On the surface, there seems to be some logic, but the conclusions that come out when you follow it seem counterintuitive.

1. I'm camped in the wilderness, with a bunch of dead downed trees around. I want to cut one for firewood, or a seat, or whatever. I need to pick the one that's NOT on the herd path, so I don't make the herd path look like it's being maintained?

2. There's a downed dead tree on the herd path. I can push it aside, and lay it along the side of the path. So I do. Doesn't this make the path "look maintained?"

3. Big John and Little Willy both hike, on separate paths. There are trees on the herd paths they are using. Big John is strong enough to move the trees. Little Willy isn't, so he would rather cut them. So it's now legal for Big John to "maintain" his path, but illegal for Little Willy to "maintain" his?

I'm not sure about this...

TCD

mavs00
09-29-2004, 09:55 AM
Okay, I'll be a dissenter here. what's wrong with a little blowdown, it leaves "a little" charm and variation to a hike. Climbing over or ducking under occasional trees sometimes can add a little fun to an otherwise BORING trail section. MANY (not all, but many) trails are so well maintained, they might as well be friggin paved.

I personally don't see a huge ethical violation if a hiker "feels compelled" to move/cut/destroy/annihilate every forlorn little branch or tree that happens to fall in the path, but I also don't see a huge need for it either. An obvious exception would be huge deadfall, that creates a physical hazard or is such an impediment that it causes other to create "new" work around trails, which is BAD.

For the most part though, I consider it part of the adventure to negotiate natural obstacles along the trail. On maintained trails, it obvious, someone needs to go in every year to keep the path free of major obstructions, but I don't see a huge need for someone to be out there whacking away at every branch the second it hits the ground.

Look at it like this, like many, I mumbled, grumbled and swore my way through the herd paths to Cliff and Couch (ADK's) while doing em', but ya know what, you gotta admit, those paths/peaks have some serious character (personality even). The VanHo route up Marcy (to the treeline anyway), has about as much character as I-87 for me.

That's just my opinion. btw, this is for trails only, I strongly feel that if you decide to color "outside the lines", you need to leave the permanent markers at home ;)

Grumpy
09-29-2004, 10:18 AM
Originally posted by mavs00
I personally don't see a huge ethical violation if a hiker "feels compelled" to move/cut/destroy/annihilate every forlorn little branch or tree that happens to fall in the path, but I also don't see a huge need for it either. . . .
This comment really is a key to the whole thing.

I don't think anyone has suggested that hikers are obliged to clear blowdown from trails as they go.

The discussion here started with a query as to whether or not it is legal or ethical to do so. I believe many of us think it's probably ethical to remove blowdown (including sawing it out of the way) on established or "authorized" paths. We have a lot more more doubts when it comes to true informal herd paths.

And many of us still wonder if we'll go to the slam (so to speak) if we're caught cutting the King's blowdown out of the way anywhere.

G.

tonycc
09-29-2004, 10:31 AM
I don't carry any cutting equipment, but there are many times I wish I did. Those times are when there is a blow down across the path, and a new path has been formed around it. I think it would be appropriate to reopen the main trail and use the cut material to block the detour? Of course, this is for maintained trails only. The rerouting of herd paths by blowdowns is part of the bushwhacking process and experience.

Tony

WalksWithBlackflies
09-29-2004, 11:06 AM
Ditto, Mavs.

TCD
09-29-2004, 11:49 AM
This thread is interesting. I don't hike on herd paths or trails a lot of the time. I do a lot of map and compass travel, so overcoming obstructions, both "hazardous" and "forlorn" is routine and expected.

It took a while, but now we have a clear dichotomy in the thread:

Is the development of "new" work around trails:

"BAD";

or "part of the bushwhacking process and experience"?

Let's talk about that!

TCD

Mike Gilhooly
09-29-2004, 12:04 PM
Get out there and contribute. Pete Hickey and all the 46er trailmasters would love to see more new blood helping out. The core group of 46er trail workers are as fine a bunch of folks as you'll ever meet in the woods. Don't take my word for it, just come and join in, you'll see.

Actions speak louder than words.

Mike G.

Grumpy
09-29-2004, 01:01 PM
Mike, I think the drift of the question that opened this thread was in the direction of whether and how individuals might help keep trails and routes open as they go. That strongly hints at a desire to pitch in, or “contribute” as you put it.

To me, individual stewardship is a cornerstone of making or keeping our world a decent place, whether we’re in town or out in the boonies. Structured and organized stewardship activity is great, and we all should commend Pete Hickey and the 46ers for their efforts. But rather than chiding those who are interested in being stewards on their own to join groups, why not provide constructive direction to help them achieve good ends in their way?

I think that’s really what this thread is about.

G.

TCD
09-29-2004, 01:22 PM
Thanks, Grumpy... :)

mavs00
09-29-2004, 06:32 PM
Originally posted by Mike Gilhooly
Actions speak louder than words.

Mike, you are without a doupt correct. However, I have to agree with the heart of what Grumpy says. This site is nothing but words, opinions, rants and musings, but in a very real sense, probably provides SIGNIFICANT stewardship rewards to our mountains. In both tangible and intangible ways.

For Instance, I'm the uninformed ( :) ) one that strolls in here and posts "Gee, I'm headed over to Nye but I'm confused, my maps say one thing, but the trail guides say something else about the location of the summit. BAM, Within 4-8 hours, I have 5-8 responses that tell me "the correct" answer. Now when I go, I'm armed with INFORMATION that will allow me to "go, find, and return" WITH NO SIGN OF MY PASSING. In years gone by, I'd have to wing it, and thrash around the summit area til I found the highest rock.

Intangibly, just look at this thread. I can bet many readers, now and future, never even gave this topic ANY thought before. They either would have walked along, hacking and crashing anything they see out of the way, or ignore fallen trees altogether. Now, I bet the next tree that YOU come across, your mind will drift back to this thread and some inner dialog will kick in. Instead of no thoughts on the matter, you'll think back to a meaningful debate and base future action on it.

So sure, get out and sweat a little with a trail crew, but don't underestimate (and discount) the power that our words, opinions, rants and musings in here have on the places we love so much.

Just wanted to get that in there. I agree that action does speak louder than words, but words sometimes speak VERY loudly too.

Sorry for the diversion off the initial topic. :(

tonycc
09-29-2004, 08:33 PM
Originally posted by Grumpy
Mike, I think the drift of the question that opened this thread was in the direction of whether and how individuals might help keep trails and routes open as they go. That strongly hints at a desire to pitch in, or “contribute” as you put it.
Thanks Grumpy, that is what I thought this thread was about. I have helped local crews, but I live too far away from the Dacks or many other spectacular places to be able to help the local organization. I have always wanted to repay the enjoyment I get from hiking at distant places, this is one possible way for us to do it. My little trash bag for litter is my standard for "paying" my way.


To me, individual stewardship is a cornerstone of making or keeping our world a decent place, whether we’re in town or out in the boonies. Structured and organized stewardship activity is great, and we all should commend Pete Hickey and the 46ers for their efforts. But rather than chiding those who are interested in being stewards on their own to join groups, why not provide constructive direction to help them achieve good ends in their way?

I think that’s really what this thread is about.

Clearly, my hat is off to all those (usually anonymous) trail crews. You help make the outdoors more accessible to all of us. There is certainly no intent to insult or disparage any of your efforts by asking.

So, would my carrying a saw/axe to remove those obstacles across maintained trails that have started side trails to form be:
a) legal
b) ethical
c) appreciated by the local trail crews, or be taken as an insult

What type of guidelines should I be following if it is infact legal, ethical and appreciated?

Tony:)

bigmoose
09-29-2004, 09:11 PM
There was a thread on this topic last year, and I think the consensus amongst trail maintainers was, "leave the maintenance to us." So, much as it may seem like a good idea to take a Sven Saw to blowdown you encounter, you're not supposed to. Not on marked trails, and not on herd paths. Not in the Adirondacks, not in the Greens, not in the Whites. Liability issues, amongst other things. Perhaps Pete Hickey can weigh in on this again.

snowshoe
09-30-2004, 07:18 AM
I see no problems with cutting a blowdown on a marked trail. Not every trail gets maintained on a regular basis. I am a maintainer and I love to go out on my trail and see someone has cleard the blowdowns for me. . Then it alowes me to concentrate on somehing else with my trail. I even will go out and clear blowdowns on other trails that are maintained by others. How legal is this is a good question. I think as long as you let that park know what you are doing they should have no problem with it. I think it becomes more of an issue as soon as a chainsaw is used because you need to be certified. After all it is one less thing the park has to do. It is considered volunteer work and all parks take in volunteers even if you do not belong to a club.

cooperhill
09-30-2004, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by bigmoose
So, much as it may seem like a good idea to take a Sven Saw to blowdown you encounter, you're not supposed to. Not on marked trails, and not on herd paths. Not in the Adirondacks, not in the Greens, not in the Whites. .
Says who??

I don't see that maintenance of marked trails and herd paths is the same thing. It is illegal to clear blowdowns on abandoned, closed, or herd paths but to my knowledge the same rules don't apply to maintained trails.


Originally posted by bigmoose
There was a thread on this topic last year, and I think the consensus amongst trail maintainers was, "leave the maintenance to us."
I agree with Grumpy. We all can play a part whether on our own or with groups.

woodstrider
09-30-2004, 06:04 PM
other then one's own is usually not considered appropriate. The trails are maintained by volunteers that look forward and set aside time to clear their trails. That said, sometimes a new tree falls and it is a kindness to clear it so others can pass. I have done this, but I do the minimun so that people will be able to pass and not be tempted to make a herd path around.

Also, if you are injured doing trail work, you are not covered by workers compensation. As you are not sanctioned to do trail work, try sueing the DEC or other Gov. agency- well, good luck with that.

Also, maintainers have training so they can cut dead fall and not get hurt. It can be an art.

If you are interested in adopting a trail, Downstate and NJ call The New York, New Jersey Trail Conference, the 'Dacks contact the 46ers or ADK.

Happy Trails:)

stopher
09-30-2004, 09:23 PM
Most blowdowns on a trail, whether cut or just dragged, can be removed without any undue danger to the remover or damage to the environment. I can't speak for anywhere else but if you are on a WODC trail, we would be grateful for any assistance in removing blowdowns. Just please pay attention to the lay of the land and don't place the removed blowdown where it might block any drainage -- natural or anthropogenic ("man-made" isn't PC).

As for any further maintenance, it is best left to those who have had some training in trail maintenance (available on request) and with the approval of the maintaining organization.

RoySwkr
09-30-2004, 11:15 PM
Originally posted by David Metsky

As far as I know, this is not true. While I don't think you'd have any problems cutting a blowdown across a maintained trail, you certainly could be in trouble for doing unauthorized maintainence of an abandoned, closed, or unauthorized trail on National Forest land.

On the National Forest, you are allowed to cut dead and down wood for firewood. Even in an area where fires are not allowed, you could be cutting it to take elsewhere.

Some trail maintainers appreciate help, but last winter a trip leader basically told me not to cut a blowdown across the trail because it would deprive the maintainer of the fun of removing it.

To my mind, a trail is a trail and should be kept clear. After the big ice storm a few years ago when they said some trails in NH might never reopen, I brought a folding saw on every hike and cut a quota of 2 blowdowns. I have even cut live trees that hinder the path, it may not be legal but it feels ethical to me.

Pete_Hickey
10-01-2004, 08:11 AM
Originally posted by smh444
Let's put it this way: If you are a resident of the State then you are as much of a steward of the land as one of your employees (DEC, etc.).

Nice logic. By the same token, you are as much a steward of the land, and can decide that some unnamed trailless peak is ni need of a trail to it, so you can cut it.

A lot of the problems/rules cmoe ffrom judgement and how far do you go. Each person may view a situation differently, and decide on a different course of action.

Imagine the confusion if EVERYBODY would be taking tools into the woods and doing the kind of work each one thinks should be done. This is one end of the spectrum. Not being able to pick up a small branch and throw it aside is the other end. There are a whole bunch of shades of gray leading from one to the other.

OK... The illegal path which had been cut from (PXXXXX) in the adirondacks. Many now consider this to be a herd path. If you are taking that path, do you clear blowdwn across it, or should you leave it in hope that it will return to its natural state? Different people will have different responses to this.

There are plans for the land, the land owner knows these plans, and doing things ad-hoc may not always fit in with the plan.

Sometimes, even the land owner can have problems with its internal communication of the plans.

A DEC ranger spend a good day clearing blowdown on teh old yellow trail which is used to get to Cliff. This route is intended to be shut down next year, in favor of a newer better route. Since it has been cleared, it will be much harder to shut it down.

When we re-habilitated the old Tabletop herd path, we closed off the former starting point with blowdown. Lots of well intentioned hikers cleared these old paths, making it several YEARS before the new one became known well enough. The same thing happened on Redfield, but to a much lesser degree.

One problem with rules and laws is that they have to be black and white. It is hard to put judgement into things. Look at driving and red lights. In the middle of the night, do you have to wait for the light to turn green before going? Sure, it'd be safe to just drive through after you've stopped and see that there is absolutely nothing coming. Imagine how it would be trying to write that up as a law.

Liabillity and lawyers also come into play here. Land owners are afraid of lawsuits.

shadowcat
10-01-2004, 10:24 AM
since we are on rights & wrongs of trail maintenance i've often wondered about mudd holes/patches and what, if anything hikers can do to help out. this summer especially, (daks/ny) we had a lot of rain and not only was there more mud than i've seen in awhile but it's hanging around a lot longer. some of the areas are really bad, deep and wet. some hikers will trudge thru it but most go around it. of course, this widens the trail and ends up doing more damage. i've never understood why it's wrong to take some of the dead pieces of trees (i'm talking dried up dead stuff laying on the ground) and lay in the mud. back in michigan this was like an unspoken rule that we just did to help fill in the mud holes so they didn't get worse. it was said that everyone who passed should lay one piece of dead wood in the mud hole. easy, free trail maintenance. but up in the daks, although no one has ever confirmed this for me, it's my understanding this is a big no-no! maybe i got bad info, but if it's wrong to do this i'd like to know why. what could be wrong with moving a few pieces of dead branches and lay in the worst part of a mud hole? it certainly would help keep it from getting worse, fill it in and hopefully keep hikers on the trails instead of walking around and making new trails. i've often wanted to do this but was worried i'd be doing something wrong so never have. thanx