Celebrate National Trails Day by supporting volunteer groups that care for National Forest trails

Cody Norris
Pinewoods Lake Trail after Poplar Bluff Trails Coalition volunteers worked on it earlier this year. Photo taken by Jonathon Breithaupt, Forest Service

Poplar Bluff Trails Coalition will be hosting a volunteer workday at the Wolf Creek Trail System near Poplar Bluff on National Trails Day Saturday. 

Anyone interested in joining them can learn more on their Facebook page event post.

Poplar Bluff Trails Coalition (PBTC) is the newest member of a robust list of volunteer groups and non-profits that work closely with Mark Twain National Forest to ensure public access to the Forest’s trail systems. Even if you can’t get out for this event, consider doing some research into volunteer opportunities on the Forest.

Volunteer groups are always looking for people to assist in a variety of capacities, not just with the physical trail work. They may be able to use your support in administration, event organization, equipment repair/maintenance, and many other behind-the-scenes activities.

Many challenges to maintaining a high-quality trail system exist; but the conditions of trails can continue to improve if people work together.

“It is everyone’s combined creativity that drives solutions for trail upkeep on national forest lands,” stated Jonathon Breithaupt, one of the Forest’s managers of trails and Wilderness areas.

Ozark Trail Association

These volunteers make the epic Ozark Trail system thrive. OTA spearheaded many trail maintenances events recently, most notably on the Between the Rivers and Current River Sections. On National Trails Day the OTA will be hosting an event at Current River State Park. Earlier this year, OTA partnered with the Forest to host a MEGA work day where over 80 participants assisted with deferred trail tread maintenance to correct soil erosion and water drainage issues. Several rock armoring projects improved intermittent stream crossings there as well. OTA has spearheaded trail maintenance work on the Berryman Trail and the Ozark Trail, Middle Fork and Karkaghne Sections. Find out more about OTA at https://ozarktrail.com.

Backcountry Horsemen of Missouri

BCH has several Chapters that work with the Forest to keep trails enjoyable for equestrian users. These include the Brownsfield Chapter, Ridgerunner Chapter, the River Springs Chapter, and more. Call a Ranger District to learn more about which Chapter they work with and how you can connect to them. Find out more online at www.bchmo.org. The horse-riding volunteers have completed trail repair, installed campsite improvements, lead big cleanup events, and much more. If following the path of the cowboy or cowgirl is more your volunteer speed, then take a look at BCH.

Mo-Moto Trail Riders

The Mo-Moto trial riders have done cleanup events, group rides, and lots of trail maintenance. They have worked with Mark Twain National Forest to host large cleanup events and have cleared trees from motorized trail systems after storms. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/momototrailriders/.

Poplar Bluff Trail Coalition

They work with multiple user groups to maintain Forest trails in the area. Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/poplarblufftrails/. PBTC spent the spring improving trail conditions at the Wolf Creek Trail System, Eagle Bluff Trail, 172 Loop Trail and most recently the Victory Horse Trail in partnership with Backcountry Horsemen of Missouri, River Springs Chapter. These two nonprofit partners have helped log out trails, brushed back trail corridors, installed signs and blazes and mowed grass on the trail and at trailheads. Both these groups work primarily on the Poplar Bluff Ranger District.

Columbia Missouri Trail Association

This volunteer group focuses on the Cedar Creek Unit of the Forest and has brought much-needed attention to hiking opportunities on public lands convenient to users in the Jefferson City and Columbia area. They are focused on mountain bike users, but also interact with hikers and equestrian users to accomplish trail maintenance. Follow them at www.facebook.com/comotrailassociation/.

Many more

Mark Twain Forest Friends is a group on the west side of the Forest that has focused on keeping the Forest clean for visitors to enjoy. Friends of the Eleven Point is another volunteer group that works to connect people with their area of the Forest.

Many other volunteer and non-profit groups work with the Forest and rely on public support to promote natural resources and conservation. These include National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever, scout troops, garden clubs, Stream Teams, Conservation Federation, Missouri Naturalists, Missouri Prairie Foundation and many more. Most trail projects could greatly benefit from the expertise and care that these groups bring to the table,

“You can even start your own volunteer group to help maintain your favorite trail system,” Breithaupt said.

He encourages people with an interest in an area or activity not represented by a current volunteer group to reach out to the Forest.

He added, “Getting registered with the Forest Service as a volunteer is easy and trail management training by agency staff can usually be provided with some coordination.”

If you have an interest in volunteering but cannot make it out for a National Trails Day event, don’t worry because there will be more opportunities. The OTA plans to spend time working on various sections of the OT on the Forest between June 6-30.