CT NEMBA's Trail School

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On April 7th, land managers, hikers, and mountain bikers gathered in Madison, Connecitcut for full day of seminars and a clinic on sustainable trail design and construction.  CT NEMBA organized the event with financial support from the outdoor retailer, Trailblazer, lunch provided by Grow Home Organics and Pedal Power, and gifts from IMBA. The day consisted of classroom discussion, trailwork at Rockland Preserve, and an optional ride.

CT NEMBA's Paula Burton spoke about the value of planning purpose-built singletrack to promote sustainability, resource protection and mitigate trail user conflict. IMBA's new Northeast Regional director, Adam Coppola, documented some of the societal and health benefits of trails:

• 50 million Americans mountain bike (1 in 5 people over the age of 16)
• Every dollar invested in trails leads to almost $4 in direct medical benefits
• Direct access to trails increases property value by 10-15%
• 85% of overweight adolescents who ride bikes become normal weight adults

Jason Engelhardt, Madison resident and project coordinator for "Singletracks of Rockland" spoke about his experiences building a local community of trail support.  He began this project through conversations with Madison town land management in October 2011.  Engelhardt gained approval from the Rockland Preserve Board as well as Wetlands and Conservation Commissions.   So far, volunteers have given over 1600 hours to build 8 miles of singletrack in rarely visited portions of the 649 acre Preserve.  In 2013, the group plans to improve current singletrack, build several boardwalks, and then expand to create more trail.  They also plan to hold events to bring the public to the preserve, whether on bike, foot, or carrying a shovel.

Rockland Preserve is open to the public and maintained by the town of Madison.  The Singletracks of Rockland network is accessible from the Route 79 entrance in North Madison, just south of the intersection with Route 148.  Maps and more information are available at the Town of Madison website, www.madisonct.org/i3/rockland.

--By Jason Englehardt

Photo by Adam Coppola