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Thread: Funds For Franconia Ridge

  1. #1
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Funds For Franconia Ridge

    Came across this today on a FB group. Seems like a good chunk of money but is it? Anyone here that can provide $$$ amounts to other recent trail work? Trying to get a sense of what they can actually accomplish with this amount of money.

    https://www.outdoors.org/resources/a...zeLkEB71BPEmDs
    “An emerald shines even if it's worth is not spoken of" - Marcus Aurelius

  2. #2
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Trail work involves a lot of manual labor, most of it from volunteers.

    $1.1M over five years -> $220K per year. Granted most of the work is seasonal, let's say six months. Purely for illustrative purchases, if you paid New Hampshire's median wage you'd get about seven people for your $1.1M over five half-years.

    Wild guess, a professional trail boss, some recruiters, some supplies and logistics (food and a cook for your volunteer trail crew, for example), and that's that. I didn't budget anything for facilities or insurance or permits...

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    My first thought is what a waste of taxpayer money. With all the potential groups that lack funds, a million bucks for a piece of land blown up by portrait hungry social media wannabees. I just don't see it as a good move, but I'm admittedly bitter about the abuse the range gets. This will only add to it in the long run. But hey, I can yell get off my porch all day, doesn't mean anyone will listen.

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    I don't think this is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

    I am also concerned that a significant portion of the funding will be absorbed by administrative/environmental surveying/etc. costs.

    One of the best things that could be done for our trails would be to remove the red tape that hinders volunteer work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Until you can get rid of all Gov't pork, I'm not that upset about having a pet project in our area. The OBP and Greenleaf will continue to go by the hut. Falling waters will continue to go by the waterfalls and likely by Shining Rock, with a few more switchbacks. As I understand it, at least in winter, the access to Liberty Spring trail from the Basin is easy to follow and packed out. Somehow promoting other trails up there would be good. Most of us have done the Franconia Traverse, it's not that hard, as far as 4 peak trips are concerned. The walk between Liberty and Little Haystack is nice for a wooded ridge. I hope to get up or down the Skookumchuck this year.
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    There are very few volunteers trained and capable that can do the type of work that needs to be done to rebuild, realign and re-harden these trails. Sure there can be volunteers integrated into pro groups but we are not talking volunteer vacations described in glossy magazine articles. Mining and moving boulders is potentially dangerous slow work. I have heard the comment attributed to the RMC crew is that a step that can be put in place by one person its not big enough. In many cases the step is a boulder mined off the trail, then grip hoisted above the ground and set in place in the trail so that only a small portion of the boulder is even visible. One person sized rocks are used to wedge the larger boulder in place and as source for scree walls and rock lined water bars. It hard work that few would volunteer to do on day by day basis. Its also not the type of work that can be done with the public wandering through so temporary routes may need to be laid out to bypass the public around the construction sites.

    There were volunteer crews that had the skills and had the equipment but most have lost that capability as members aged out. The last real AMC volunteer crew with that capability, the Cardigan Highlanders, were driven out of the AMC, although I believe some of the members have switched their reduced efforts over to state owned lands at Cardigan. I do share the concern that a big chunk of the money could be burned up by Admin costs. AMC has made a major investment at Camp Dodge to support expanded volunteer programs, which are used as revenue to the club and I expect some of the dollars will end up at Camp Dodge. Its a five year program so perhaps a professional manager needs to be hired for the five years? This could 75 to 100K fully loaded yearly cost if they are lucky. Now add in transportation and tooling. RMC runs a pro trail crew on a shoestring budget but there is a major unpaid effort behind the scenes that would be replaced with paid staff on this project.

    The lower OBP is going to need complete realignment in many locations as the trail bed has become the drainage, that means major cable and griphoist work to mine, build and harden a complete new trail bed, then the former trail bed has to be reworked with extensive water bars and drainage channels to reduce the velocity of drainage and redirect it into the woods in a manner that it does not continue erosion. Sad to say, permanent obstacles will need to be installed in the old trail bed to dissuade hikers and runners from using it(lots of evidence of that occurring on OBP where stone steps are routinely bypassed by lazy hikers and runners). Falling Waters from the first water crossing down to the last crossing is also in need of major reconstruction in many places. Attempts have been made to deal with the worst sections post Covid but the rocks used just were not big enough and hikers and visitors to the falls undo a lot of the work when they skip the trail bed. In many places along the upper Falling Waters the trailbed is the drainage and the step stones have been bypassed so the entire trailbed needs to be "paved" with rocks.

    The actual work on the ridge may be within volunteers capability as the effort is mostly re-establish scree walls along the route except in the rare patches of soil and krumholtz north of Mt Truman and near Lincoln which have trenched and would need a turnpiked and hardened foot bed and scree walls to keep the public out of the trees which will be difficult as those areas are also used a toilet by some. During the Crawford Path work pre Covid, volunteer trail crews were housed at AMC huts at times which would be covered in the budget. The problem is given the location, an 8 hour day is eaten up by 4 hours of hiking up and down unless the crews stays at the hut.

    IMHO, this budget will be easily eaten up and will not even cover all the work that needs to be done. At least the state will profit by charging everyone to either park or take the shuttle

  7. #7
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    There are very few volunteers trained and capable that can do the type of work that needs to be done to rebuild, realign and re-harden these trails. Sure there can be volunteers integrated into pro groups but we are not talking volunteer vacations described in glossy magazine articles. Mining and moving boulders is potentially dangerous slow work. I have heard the comment attributed to the RMC crew is that a step that can be put in place by one person its not big enough. In many cases the step is a boulder mined off the trail, then grip hoisted above the ground and set in place in the trail so that only a small portion of the boulder is even visible. One person sized rocks are used to wedge the larger boulder in place and as source for scree walls and rock lined water bars. It hard work that few would volunteer to do on day by day basis. Its also not the type of work that can be done with the public wandering through so temporary routes may need to be laid out to bypass the public around the construction sites.

    There were volunteer crews that had the skills and had the equipment but most have lost that capability as members aged out. The last real AMC volunteer crew with that capability, the Cardigan Highlanders, were driven out of the AMC, although I believe some of the members have switched their reduced efforts over to state owned lands at Cardigan. I do share the concern that a big chunk of the money could be burned up by Admin costs. AMC has made a major investment at Camp Dodge to support expanded volunteer programs, which are used as revenue to the club and I expect some of the dollars will end up at Camp Dodge. Its a five year program so perhaps a professional manager needs to be hired for the five years? This could 75 to 100K fully loaded yearly cost if they are lucky. Now add in transportation and tooling. RMC runs a pro trail crew on a shoestring budget but there is a major unpaid effort behind the scenes that would be replaced with paid staff on this project.

    The lower OBP is going to need complete realignment in many locations as the trail bed has become the drainage, that means major cable and griphoist work to mine, build and harden a complete new trail bed, then the former trail bed has to be reworked with extensive water bars and drainage channels to reduce the velocity of drainage and redirect it into the woods in a manner that it does not continue erosion. Sad to say, permanent obstacles will need to be installed in the old trail bed to dissuade hikers and runners from using it(lots of evidence of that occurring on OBP where stone steps are routinely bypassed by lazy hikers and runners). Falling Waters from the first water crossing down to the last crossing is also in need of major reconstruction in many places. Attempts have been made to deal with the worst sections post Covid but the rocks used just were not big enough and hikers and visitors to the falls undo a lot of the work when they skip the trail bed. In many places along the upper Falling Waters the trailbed is the drainage and the step stones have been bypassed so the entire trailbed needs to be "paved" with rocks.

    The actual work on the ridge may be within volunteers capability as the effort is mostly re-establish scree walls along the route except in the rare patches of soil and krumholtz north of Mt Truman and near Lincoln which have trenched and would need a turnpiked and hardened foot bed and scree walls to keep the public out of the trees which will be difficult as those areas are also used a toilet by some. During the Crawford Path work pre Covid, volunteer trail crews were housed at AMC huts at times which would be covered in the budget. The problem is given the location, an 8 hour day is eaten up by 4 hours of hiking up and down unless the crews stays at the hut.

    IMHO, this budget will be easily eaten up and will not even cover all the work that needs to be done. At least the state will profit by charging everyone to either park or take the shuttle
    Great info. Seems like this amount of money is just a drop in the bucket for what this trail ultimately needs. But I guess some repair is better than none at all. I wonder if a Trail Collective will be created much like the project on The Crawford Path. Although I do agree the potential for Administrative BS is almost inevitable. By the time that is done will there be any dollars left to do the actual project? Unfortunately this trail has seen a lot of use and abuse. A long range plan is needed which includes not only parking and shuttle fees. User fees and a permit system are long over due IMO.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    If state parks goes with the parking fee solution to subsidize the shuttle they have proposed but not officially rolled out, it would be the logical place to add some portion of the fee to trail maintenance. The hassle would be who administers it?

    OBP used to be maintained to high standard by a volunteer group and they did good work but I think like other organizations they are aging out. Rigging boulders and hauling coils of cable up and down the mountain is a young persons game. I think Falling Waters at least the lower end was state parks.

    BTW White Mountains Trail Collective was formed with seed money from the National Forest Foundation which previously had no presence in the region. They funded an employee several years ago in the area to create a local office in hopes that that employee could develop a funding base. They seem to have been more successful at grabbing past money from REI and other groups. They effectively displaced AMC as the lead organization on prior projects like Crawford path. No doubt they wish they were the lead on the this Franconia ridge project. Its the golden rule, the lead entity gets the lions share of the administrative monies.

  9. #9
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Would be interesting to see what has been spent on The Crawford Path Project to date as a comparison. Yes, trail work is a young person's job at the level The Franconia project needs. Too bad all the administrative costs don't get spread around more. We have a neighbor whose son was one of the leads for the Forest Service on The Crawford Path Project in its initial stages. Let's just say he is not with The Forest Service anymore. Tough to make a living as a single person in that field. Over 50 years I have watched people come and go. The one's that seem to have the most success are couples that both work for the FS and make a career of it together. They often like the lifestyle (aka: Traveling) more than the money. Of course, when you have two working at it instead of one it's easier. Although I don't see them picking up a shovel and pick as life moves on.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  10. #10
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    OBP used to be maintained to high standard by a volunteer group and they did good work but I think like other organizations they are aging out. Rigging boulders and hauling coils of cable up and down the mountain is a young persons game.
    Have you been to a Trailwrights work day? Lots of people in their 70s and 80s.


    Here is an appropriate sized rock step


    Tim
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  11. #11
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    Have you been to a Trailwrights work day? Lots of people in their 70s and 80s.


    Here is an appropriate sized rock step
    Amen…….. https://makeagif.com/i/hLhSqt

    Tim
    Amen……. https://makeagif.com/i/hLhSqt
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    There are very few volunteers trained and capable that can do the type of work that needs to be done to rebuild, realign and re-harden these trails. Sure there can be volunteers integrated into pro groups but we are not talking volunteer vacations described in glossy magazine articles. Mining and moving boulders is potentially dangerous slow work. I have heard the comment attributed to the RMC crew is that a step that can be put in place by one person its not big enough. In many cases the step is a boulder mined off the trail, then grip hoisted above the ground and set in place in the trail so that only a small portion of the boulder is even visible. One person sized rocks are used to wedge the larger boulder in place and as source for scree walls and rock lined water bars. It hard work that few would volunteer to do on day by day basis. Its also not the type of work that can be done with the public wandering through so temporary routes may need to be laid out to bypass the public around the construction sites.

    There were volunteer crews that had the skills and had the equipment but most have lost that capability as members aged out. The last real AMC volunteer crew with that capability, the Cardigan Highlanders, were driven out of the AMC, although I believe some of the members have switched their reduced efforts over to state owned lands at Cardigan. I do share the concern that a big chunk of the money could be burned up by Admin costs. AMC has made a major investment at Camp Dodge to support expanded volunteer programs, which are used as revenue to the club and I expect some of the dollars will end up at Camp Dodge. Its a five year program so perhaps a professional manager needs to be hired for the five years? This could 75 to 100K fully loaded yearly cost if they are lucky. Now add in transportation and tooling. RMC runs a pro trail crew on a shoestring budget but there is a major unpaid effort behind the scenes that would be replaced with paid staff on this project.
    A lot of this work can be done without big tools.

    One of the most talented individual volunteers in the WMNF was chased out by red tape awhile ago. Truly high-quality work done without come-alongs, high-lines, etc. Just smart engineering, hard work, and devotion. The Albany Mountain Trail is perhaps the most sustainable mountain trail in the WMNF now because of his hard work.

    Other groups have faced long battles with bureaucracies that have significantly delayed work (such as one group having to cancel all work days on state land over bureaucratic red tape). Such issues divert work from state and federal trails that need it and hinder the development of new volunteers.

    Now that it's a done deal, I hope they're able to make a lot of progress in making the loop sustainable. I still disagree with the use of tax dollars and think more attention needs to be devoted to removing red tape and developing new volunteers. Our mountain trail system is rapidly degrading.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. My initial reaction was "wow 1.1 million for trail work" but my mind quickly started doing math and thinking this would not do a heck of a lot but I wasn't sure exactly what the funds could be used for, i.e. would existing budgeted employees use the money on materials, would it be for wages for new people, etc, etc.

    Does anyone recall what the budget was for the Crawford work done recently? I've been on that trail many times since the phases of that project were completed and I can't honestly say I noticed anything different. Feels like this 1.1 million will have a similar "impact".
    “An emerald shines even if it's worth is not spoken of" - Marcus Aurelius

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocket21 View Post
    A lot of this work can be done without big tools.

    One of the most talented individual volunteers in the WMNF was chased out by red tape awhile ago. Truly high-quality work done without come-alongs, high-lines, etc. Just smart engineering, hard work, and devotion. The Albany Mountain Trail is perhaps the most sustainable mountain trail in the WMNF now because of his hard work.

    Other groups have faced long battles with bureaucracies that have significantly delayed work (such as one group having to cancel all work days on state land over bureaucratic red tape). Such issues divert work from state and federal trails that need it and hinder the development of new volunteers.

    Now that it's a done deal, I hope they're able to make a lot of progress in making the loop sustainable. I still disagree with the use of tax dollars and think more attention needs to be devoted to removing red tape and developing new volunteers. Our mountain trail system is rapidly degrading.
    Like building the pyramids. Must be an easier way than crowbars but who am I to judge. Agree that govt makes most tasks more of a challenge and impedes progress. Doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on. Just ask Elon.

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    Senior Member richard's Avatar
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    Elon knows what he’s talking about.

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