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Volunteers Maintain Md.’s Gambrill State Park

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gambrill state park

KELSI LOOS
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Trails at Gambrill State Park will be in better repair thanks to the efforts of volunteers.

Volunteers associated with the West Chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club spent March 23 controlling erosion on the trails by placing water bars and check dams.

Water bars are logs dug into the ground that help slow the flow of water over the trail. Check dams are logs placed at an angle to direct water off the path.

The West Chapter Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is responsible for parts of the Black Locust and Catoctin trails, totaling nearly 6 miles, chapter president Dave Jordahl said.

The club works in concert with the state park service. Normally, club volunteers handle regular maintenance, while the park service responds to emergency tasks — for example, cutting down a branch in danger of falling onto the trail.

“A lot of times, volunteers are the eyes of the park service,” Jordahl said.

He explained that maintaining the trails is integral to keeping them safe.

“These trails will erode away and rut if they’re not maintained, so it’s a safety hazard,” Jordahl said.

Jordahl has been maintaining the trails since 2002. He organizes about two volunteer days a month in the spring and fall. He also works at other state parks such as Cunningham Falls and Shenandoah.

The next trail maintenance day at Gambrill is March 30.

Anywhere from five to 20 volunteers participate on a given day, he said. Boy Scout troops have been a help in the past, Jordahl added, particularly when there are enough adult volunteers to work with the Scouts.

Erik Fabe of Frederick, volunteered with his girlfriend, Jessica Smith, as a way to invest in the trail infrastructure they enjoy using. He has been hiking the trails in Gambrill since 1997.

“I’m using them; I wanted to come and help out,” he said. “It’s nice to know that I’m helping out with the trail, and I’m learning a lot.”

Smith had been part of trail maintenance before, so she encouraged Fabe to come with her to volunteer March 23.

Smith surveyed the trail for eroded areas that needed to be maintained. Fabe and Jordahl placed new logs to control water and cleared leaves and debris to help water run off old check dams.

The wood used to maintain the trail came from downed trees in the park.

Jordahl encouraged people to appreciate the parks in Frederick.

“People in Frederick should be grateful that we have two state parks in the county,” he said.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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