Happy Trails

Imagine having thousands of visitors in your yard every year. The
wear and tear on your lawn and garden would be substantial. Grass
would be trampled, compacted beyond repair with paths worn into ruts
that pool with water when it rains. Soon your visitors, in avoiding these
areas, would widen the bare spots. That’s what is happening in our
James River Park System and in our backyard, Forest Hill Park. The
parks see thousands of visitors a year, millions in James River Park.
We hike, jog, bike and walk our dogs into the parks in all types of
weather. A frequent visitor to the parks may notice the muddy ruts in
the trails that seem to be getting bigger and taking longer to dry. This
happens when trails erode below the soil surface and the water has
nowhere to go. The muddy areas lead to another problem that’s
created when trail users dodge the mud and go off of the trail, trail
widening.

Why does erosion matter and trail widening matter?

  • Safety!  Rutted, uneven surfaces, exposed rocks and plant roots
    are a tripping hazard for hikers and joggers.
  • Environmental impact! Eroded soil can make its way into streams
    and eventually the river, increasing water turbidity and sediment
    buildup. This can have a negative impact on aquatic organisms and
    the overall health of the streams and rivers.Invasive species move into disturbed areas and compete with native species for resources to the detriment of micro and macroecosystems that depend on each other to flourish.  Invasive species seeds can be introduced to new areas from the mud in shoe or bike treads.
  • Aesthetics!  Rutted trails and bare spots on hillsides are ugly, show
    lack of care and lessen the quality of recreational experience.

What can we as park users and lovers do?

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY Stay off the trails when it has rained in the last
    24 hours. Use an alternative hard surface trail until the trails have
    dried.  *Trail conditions for James River Park as well as trail rules can be found here.  https://jamesriverpark.org/visit-the-park/trails-overview/
  • Please use ONLY existing trails DoNOT create new ones. The parks
    are home to many species of plants that can be damaged or killed
    when trampled.
  • When hiking, walk single file rather than side by side.

So, let’s work together and use our parks responsibly and preserve
their natural beauty for generations to come.

For more information:
pwrc.usgs.gov. Assessing and Understanding Trail Degradation:
Results from Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area
imba.com

https://www.americantrails.org/resources/studies-weigh-mountain-biking-hiking-impacts

Twitter info: Trail conditions @RVATrailReport

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