Dispute Over MTB Trail Maintenance in Florida

graham_swamp

photo by joetutt.

Graham Swamp mountain bike trail near Daytona Beach, FL was built more than 7 years ago by Mickey Garrett and some friends. The 6.5 mile trail has been maintained by Garrett under an agreement with the landowner, St. Johns River Water Management District, and until recently, everything was cool. That is, until the local bike club, FACES, started showing up with their own volunteer trail workers and “dummy(ing) down the trail,” according to Garrett.

FACES club vice president Tony Libretti says his group was just trying to add a few miles of new, easier trails for beginning mountain bikers. Garrett says anyone is welcome to ride at the trail but that since he’s responsible for maintenance, he should be the one to call the shots. The district land manager agreed and the local club decided to back down and allow Garrett to maintain the trails with his own crew.

In many areas, it’s hard enough to get a single group to maintain a trail so it’s surprising to see two groups fighting over who gets to do the work. Clearly much of the dispute centers over “creative control” of the trail network but it still sounds like there are more volunteers willing to work than there is work to be done. I bet there are plenty of trail groups out there that wish they had the same problem…

The other interesting thing here is that the public land manager sided with an individual trail maintainer rather than turning over responsibility to an established club. While we’re sure Garrett is more than capable and deserving, we’ve seen problems with this model in other areas. Even with the best of intentions, an individual “head of the trail” can be viewed by others, rightly or wrongly, as possessive of a trail system that is open to the public.

We’re interested to hear about other trails on public land that are maintained by an individual or ad hoc group rather than an established club and how the arrangement is working out. Should this be a new model for land managers to consider or is it a dispute waiting to happen?

via Daytona Beach News