DCR BLUE HILLS TRAILWATCH IS PART OF THE SOLUTION
On October 13, 2004 the Trustees of the Reservations sponsored an environmental conference at the new Doyle Conservation Center entitled “Managing Land and Visitors: Stewardship Challenges of Natural and Historic Places.” The conference was well attended with more than 175 public and private land managers from across the state. Workshops ranged from working with volunteers and contractors to managing grasslands and cultural landscapes, managing tree diseases, using GIS for mapping and managing user conflicts on trails.
The DCR Blue Hills TrailWatch volunteer program was showcased during the workshop on “Preventing and Managing User Conflicts on Trails.” Presenters Maggi Brown, DCR Supervisory Ranger from the Blue Hills, and Joe Sloane, TrailWatch Volunteer Coordinator, provided a comprehensive view of this peer education model that has been used successfully in the Blue Hills for over ten years. The focus of the workshop was to understand that there is no single recipe to eliminate user conflicts, but creative approaches to help minimize problems are most successful when they incorporate user-group volunteers.
In the 1960’s, it was said “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” The Blue Hills TrailWatch program was created to be a part of the solution. When the land managers of the Blue Hills Reservation were faced with the task of developing policies to balance the recreational needs and expectations of hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers, a handful of dedicated and diplomatic citizens led by Joe Sloane, Bill Boles, and Sue Lee stepped forward to help. Joe, Bill and Sue suggested a volunteer education program to assist the park rangers in promoting cooperative trail use, and Blue Hills TrailWatch was born. Now 50 members strong, the dedicated volunteers teach by example, role modeling proper trail etiquette and environmental ethics while educating visitors to the beauties of the Blue Hills.
Keep an eye on the trails in the Blue Hills for a TrailWatch volunteer and be sure to check out the offerings at the Trustees of Reservations Putnam Conservation Institute, created to increase the ability of the conservation community to protect and interpret the natural and cultural resources of Massachusetts. Become a part of the solution!
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