After last month's trail races and all the work to get the trail ready for them, we've taken it a bit easy this past month, tending to normal trail maintenance. A number of Friends of DRHT board members have participated in meetings with trail colleagues to inquire about best practices, continue work on a master plan, and start to plan some events for the fall — in modified form because of COVID-19.
We're continuing to see an uptick in trail usage and we're still looking for a good way to tally that usage, so we're working with some trail colleagues to develop a methodology.
We depend on fellow trail users to tell us when something needs attention, and many of you are very good about that. Recently we got a report that there were four (four!!) trees down around MP 5.0. Luckily we had just recruited a good neighbor in that area to be the trail steward for that section. The next day he let us know that they were cleared — great job! He has set a new standard for responsiveness for the rest of us!
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has listed the Dahlgren Trail on its website (see the listing) for quite some time. We talked recently with Conservancy staff, asking them about trail maintenance and best practices. One thing they emphasized was the importance of keeping good records on volunteers, so we'll be working on that.
We are also getting help through the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program to develop a master plan for the DRHT. The process, which is integral to our greater goal of becoming a Virginia state park, includes an ongoing effort to gather feedback and recommendations from stakeholders. Trail users have offered good suggestions like a recent one from Pearl, an avid trail runner, who suggested placing trash cans at the parking areas, which we'll consider. Another suggestion was to clear more space at the turnaround spot for our half marathons to allow for volunteers and vehicles that need to be there for safety and runner support.
Our master plan work will culminate in about a year. We hope — depending on the status of COVID-19 — to be able to host some public meetings to hear more of your feedback.
We have some events coming up — keep an eye on our website and Facebook pages for details coming soon:
On a final note, the Friends of the DRHT voted at our last meeting to name our trailhead at Bloomsbury Road in memory of our friend and trail supporter Joe Williams. It will now be officially known at the Joseph L. Williams Multipurpose Area.
As always, et me know if you have any questions about the trail or I can help you get introduced to it!
See you on the trail!
President, Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail
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