5.05.2006

walking the dogs... walking the trails

as a dog owner I spend a fair amount of time walking the dogs in the woods of Rock Creek Park
the wooded park is a fantastic natural resourse in this congested urban jungle
these walks are my salvation
it is a wonderful way to start my day
it is a wonderful way to end my day
that said
I need to take more late evening hikes in the woods with my dogs
as that would clearly be better for my soul than scanning the television for something that isn't there
I should at least get in the routine of marching each and every full moon of the month

in my 9 or so years of walking my mutts I have seen the trails change
what were once hard to find routes
are now well beated paths
some paths more beaten than others

I have tried to do my part
picking up trash from time to time
collecting the old bottles for a project that may never happen
playing ranger rick with my blocking of cheat routes and short cuts
clearing and moving fallen trees and branches that are blocking the trail
and slowing the erosion by terracing the subtle grades with old logs and branches

but what are the other trail users doing?
does it occur to them that they should give as well as take?

for some their contribution could be simple
they could make a positive contribution by not making a negative
stop leaving their trash and staying on the trail
that in itself would be an amazing contribution
that much should not be too much to ask

but what about the others?
certainly there are those that could do more to make things better
to at least slow the decline of the woods of Rock Creek

I think that some groups need to spearhead some repair efforts
the running hashers could be one group that could aid in education and clean up
and
the professional dog walkers could lend a hand as well

the runners run in groups
their groups move at a faster pace than the walkers
the path is cut by a walking pace
the runner then forces the trail to grow wider
in many cases I have seen the annoying powder marks of the hashers guiding the followers on a short cut
thus creating another path that is not needed
they need to stay on the trail
they need to help repair the trail
they need to go over obstacles (including puddles) instead of around them

as far as the professional dog walkers go...
well, they need to take it one step further
they definitely need to get a shovel and put in some sweat equity
as they are reaping a monitary benifit while they are raping the trails
walking a pack of dogs forces the trail to get wider
like cows crazing
the dog walkers move into the trail, usually not far from the trailhead
the dogs often walk many abreast
while leashless dogs run free
as I have no issue with leashless dogs or dog walking
I do have an issue with the impact on the trail from the actions of someone making money while doing so
does that make sense?
sort of like drilling for oil....
the dog walkers need to give back as they are definitely leaving an impact

this spring as every spring there is a new puppy or ten
the new freshman class
some will walk the city streets
some will take to the woods
that is more poop
that is more footsteps
the population is not decreasing

everybody wants the trails to be beautiful
while very few people are doing anything about it

in addition to be concious and controling our impact
I feel that we need to bring in fertile earth
trails need to be rerouted
switchbacks need to be used rather than heavily eroded downhill paths
parallel paths need to be limited
unneeded trails need to blocked and replanted

now how do I make this happen?

will the Department of Interior give me some boots, some green pants, a shovel, and a wad of cash to start this project?

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