Thursday, June 23, 2016

An Update on FCMTBC...

While we've been around for awhile, we're just now realizing our true identity. And, since I'm posting updates today, I figured I'd take some time to share this reflection with you.

The most important realization we've come to is that we're not exactly what our name says. While the group was formed around a love for mountain biking, each of us has a more general passion for the outdoors. We're hikers, trail runners, bird watchers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers (not to mention  We enjoy doing these things with our families, our friends, and anyone else who wants to join in on the fun. We do these things competitively, recreationally, and just to enjoy the sights of nature (read: really, really slowly).

The second thing we recognized is that our voice is extremely limited. (In part, this could be due to people thinking we're strictly, or even mostly, focused on mountain biking. Which, as I addressed above, isn't true.) While we have been working on a couple big projects, we're a small club, and we need more members, and more members being active, to make a bigger difference. It's difficult to run an effective organization with only a few active participants, and it's difficult for small clubs to get the grants and other funding opportunities we need to continue to improve the trails in Franklin County.

With those realizations come the thought of who we need to join the club. If you enjoy being outdoors, taking care of the trails you use, and want to create a more powerful voice for the activities you take part in and the trails you use, you're one of us. We need a diverse group of individuals with different ideas, focuses, and voices to create the most enjoyable trails and experiences for everyone. We want people to run for official positions (president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary) there are a number of roles people can play. Among other roles, we need people to help write grants, reach out to the larger communities, and to attend project meetings. We understand not everyone has the time to take an active role within the club, and we respect that, but, whether you can play an active role or can support us by making the club larger, we need you!

If you have any questions, check out the Contact Us page for contact info. If you want to join the club or renew your membership, check out the Membership page.

Big Improvements in Franklin County!

As we continue to look to improve the riding, hiking, cross country skiing, and overall outdoor recreation experience, we're happy to provide an update on two projects in Franklin County.
The St. Albans Forest trail improvement project is moving along at a steady pace. In November, we shared a trail map proposal created by Sinuosity. Continuing our work with this amazing company, we now have the "St. Albans Forest Comprehensive Trail Plan" to further guide the project.

While the recent focus has been on the St. Albans Forest project, we're still making plans for how to move ahead with the St. Albans Recreation Reserve project (Aldis Hill and Hard'ack). Sinuosity has provided a trail map proposal along with the "St. Albans Recreation Reserve Trail Sustainability and Management Plan". At this point, Hard'ack and Aldis Hill are looking for grants and funding opportunities to begin the work on the bigger changes (work that requires heavy machinery, some trail building, some trail closures, etc.), and for the more manageable changes (some trail building, some trail closures, trail widening, etc), we'll be setting up some dates to get a group of volunteers together.

We'll keep you updated as these projects, and others around Franklin County, continue to develop. And, if you know of any other trail systems that could benefit from some attention, shoot us an email. Let's keep the good things coming in little, ol' Franklin County!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

St. Albans Town Forest: An Award Winning Forest in Your Backyard

The St. Albans Town Forest kiosk

On November 7th, the St. Albans Town Forest was awarded with the Town Forest Centennial Award as part of the Community Conservation Summit, held at the Vermont Technical College. "The Town Forest Centennial Award recognizes one community in each county statewide that has established model town forests. Communities were nominated by VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation's County Foresters and members of the Town Forest Centennial Planning Committee, with the following criteria in mind: management and stewardship planning, conservation and protection, citizen advisory group engagement, and community use and engagement." As FCMTBC has been working closely with St. Albans Town Manager Nat Neider, other representatives from the town, County Forester Nancy Patch, and RiseVT on making improvements to the Town Forest, we were invited to join Nat in receiving the award.

Nat Neider (l) and Matt Allen (r) accepting the Town Forest Centennial Award

Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting updates about the Town Forest and other FCMTBC collaborations!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Proposed Trail Plan for The St. Albans Town Forest

This post was written by Jessica Frost for the RiseVT website.

The Town Forest in St. Albans has been a local treasure since 1953, when the land was purchased. Since then, work by locals and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps has been done to create trails. Nancy Patch, the Forester for Franklin and Grand Isle County, has also done significant forestry work to create a timber management plan and a song bird habitat.

Recently, RiseVT and the Town of St. Albans pitched in to hire a consultant, Sinuosity, to create a master trail plan for the forest. The plan is to build upon existing trails and develop a new network of trails, which will apply to a variety of non-motorized activities. In an effort to enhance the opportunity for physical activities of many types and for many ages, walkers, hikers, runners, skiers, showshoers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, naturalists and school groups will be accommodated. This is a proposed plan, subject to comment and input from the public. The community will also be an asset in the building and maintenance of the trail system.

Sinuosity's New Trail System Proposal

On the map, the existing trails are the wider white, blue, green and orange lines.

Ski Trail Out to Bird Patches (White)-- Length: 1670 ft. (loop) plus 2830 ft. Current Trail Uses: ski, hike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Ski, hike. Description- Trail begins on old logging road with very wet sections for the first portion. Areas of bridging and reroutes may be necessary to maintain foot traffic and sustainable travel during non-frozen months.
Logging Rd. to Saddle (White)-- Length: 1280 ft. Current Trail Uses: ski, hike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Ski. Description- Logging road traveling south from the main parking area. Trail continues along the boundary then cuts northwest diagonally across a wide seepy area to the saddle at the height of land.
Road to Beaver Pond-West (Green)-- Length: 1365 ft. Current Trail Uses: walk, snowshoe, ski. Recommended Future Trail Uses: walk, snowshoe, ski, bike. Description-Trail begins on old, wide roadbed and travels directly north from the parking lot. Wet sections have been rerouted to better draining terrain and are a much more narrow tread.
Road to Beaver Pond-East (Orange)-- Length: 1300 ft. Current Trail Uses: unknown. Recommended Future Trail Uses: walk, snowshoe, ski, bike. Description: Old road bed looping around from the east side of the parking lot then north the meet up with the old road to the beaver pond.
VYCC Loop East (Blue)-- Length: 1865 ft. Current Trail Uses: Hikers. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Hike, bike. Description- Trail begins east of the parking on an old road bed. It cuts north, looping around to the eastern shore of the beaver pond. Recently built, this trail has a rugged character on a steep side slope. It is most suitable for advanced biking and hiking with the current trail structures.
VYCC Loop West (Blue)-- Length: 1615 ft. Current Trail Uses: Hike, bike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Hike, bike (intermediate). Description- Also recently worked on by the VYCC, this section of trail is suitable for intermediate travel with a narrow treadway and multiple rock trail structures in sections. With the exclusion of a small set of stairs it is generally suitable for more technical biking, though less technical than the Eastern Loop.
Connector (Green)-- Length: 1715 ft. Current Trail Uses: walk, bike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: walk, bike. Description- The old road bed gently climbs up from the Logging Road To Saddle. Upon cresting the mixed oak forest at a small height of land it drops down and turns east through a small seep and back up to meet with the Old Road to Beaver Pond.

The new trails are the narrower lines. They include:
Alternate Saddle Trail (Blue)-- Estimated Length: 1800 ft. Designed Trail Uses: bike, run, hike, snowshoe. Description: Trail provides access to height of land when ground isn’t frozen. It would traverse and cross a low lying wet area to and provide a non-winter option to the ski trail.
Short Trailhead Loop (Purple)-- Estimated Length: 1800 ft. Designed Trail Uses: bike, run, hike Description: A loop of intermediate rocky terrain, split by the more moderate old road bed off the Connector.
Ridge Trail (Yellow)-- Estimated Length: 1125 ft. Designed Trail Uses: hike, bike, snowshoe, run. Description: Trail traverses over the top of the rocky ridgeline between the parking area and the VYCC Loop East. Thin soils over a ridge of bedrock running north south create intermediate options. This trail section would provide an alternate route through hemlock covered terrain dropping down to the main road to the beaver pond at the Intro Loop intersection.
Intro Loop (Green)-- Estimated Length: 660 new, plus existing and improved. Designed Trail Uses: walk, bike, snowshoe, ski, groups. Description: Loop of natural smooth natural surface or imported surface trail, 4-6’ wide to accommodate a large variety of uses.
Top Loops (Red)-- Estimated Length: 3700 ft. Designed Trail Uses: bike, run. Description: These loops make use of the high rocky outcrops near the saddle at the height of land of the property. The terrain is rugged but with good drainage and interesting features. Loops may be too short to be of interest for hikers, but will be suitable for bikers and runners.
Birdwatch Loop (Purple)-- Estimated Length: 1000 ft. Designed Trail Use: hike, ski. Description: This section forms a loop from the first 2 bird patches, allowing for a bird watchers, skiers and hikers to have continuous travel as opposed to a dead end before the return trip.

If you are interested in participating in this project, please let The Franklin County Mountain Bike Club, RiseVT, or the Town of St. Albans Planner, Nathaniel Neider know. The community will be needed to help develop and maintain this network for generations to enjoy.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Our New (Digital) Home

Welcome to the new Franklin County Mountain Bike Club site! In an attempt to stay connected with the community, we're switching to a site that allows us to post updates more efficiently and allows interaction with the community.

In addition to the site, you can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.