Currently available GIS Information includes all known routes in the forest, both system and non-system. Using this information as a basis, all non-system routes will be field verified and data will be collected. If additional routes are discovered, they will be walked and collected for insertion into GIS data set.
- Primary Objective: collect data on non-system routes to identify areas where human impact has created opportunities for hydrological erosion that are potentially damaging to the watershed.
- Secondary Objective: collect date and observations on non-system routes to identify the needs of non-motorized recreational trail users.
- Route Length: 100 meters
- Tread Width
- Trail Class
- Erosion Observations
- Recreational Observations
Each route will be assessed in 100 meter increments using an accurate GPS device.
The approximate width of each route or section of route will be measured. If the route varies in width this will be noted.
This will allow us to differentiate between trails and roads, both of which will be found during field collection. Further, this width will allow us to estimate the overall square footage of routes, which will aid us in understanding the affect of a particular route on the watershed.
Using current USFS standards, the observer will rate each segment. If a segment changes substantially from one class to another, this will be noted.
This observation will allow us to categorize trails based upon their development and use, aiding in understanding user needs.
While Trail Class designates the development of a route, Use Index shows how established a route is on the ground. Evidence of use can be seen by tracks, directionsal signs, lack of overgrowth / weeds, trimming / chopping of obstruction trees, and compaction of soil.
- Route on maps but difficult to locate on ground due to no current usage.
- Route visible, little evidence of use.
- Route obvious, evidence of occasional use
- Route obvious and established, used on regular basis.
- Route firmly established, evidence of heavy use.
Erosion will be recorded by the observer as one or more of the following:
- Sheet Erosion: occurs when soil is removed from its original location in thin layers over a gradual period of time.
- Rill Erosion: shallow water drainage lines less than 1 foot deep.
- Gully Erosion: deeper water channels that are greater than 1 foot deep, resembling large ditches.
- Potential Erosion: steep slopes on routes that have little vegetation are susceptible to erosion. When rain/snow is intermittent, there may be little to no evidence of erosion due to human use redistributing soil. Even when there is no direct evidence of erosion, these instances will be recorded.
- Exposed Aggregate / Roots: eroded routes in rocky areas may not show evidence of traditional erosion. Routes that have sections with many rocks partially uncovered will be noted. Trees with exposed routes also may be evidence of water erosion and will be noted when along a route.
- Water Course Route: occurs when the trail is routed through a land depression, or has caused a land depression, and it’s obvious that water runs down the trail.
- A guide for predicting sheet and rill erosion on public land
- Soil Erosion Solutions: Helping North Coast landholders reduce soil erosion
- Rill erosion in natural and disturbed forests
- Trail Resource Impacts and an Examination of Alternative Assessment Techniques
- Assessing and Understanding Trail Degradation: Results from Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area
- Erosional Impact of Hikers, Horses, Motorcycles, and Off-Road Bicycles on Mountain Trails in Montana
The observer will record any human created feature or disturbance on the route, including signs, bridges, trash, fences, etc. This information will be used to understand how the route is being used by the public. The observer will also make informal comments based upon what they see while on the trail. Is there evidence of recent use (tire tracks, footprints)? What other users and activities are observed? Does the route seem to serve a purpose, like connecting a neighborhood to the forest or leading to a viewpoint?