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Autumn Is A Great Time To Adopt A Trail

September 22, 2006

Fog is creeping up the valleys, and there is a nip in the morning air. Why not give yourself an excuse to visit your favorite trail on a conservation area?

Jefferson City, Missouri - When the searing heat and oppressive humidity of summer finally abate, outdoors men and women flock to the woods to enjoy fall pursuits. For many Missourians, that means visiting a conservation area. This interval between the torpor of summer and the rigors of winter is a great time to hike, bike or ride a horse through woods, glades, wetlands and prairies. It also is a great time to help maintain trails through such areas.

With more than 700 miles of trail on 136 areas, the Conservation Department has its hands full maintaining them all. The agency's Adopt-A-Trail Program gives nature lovers a way of helping maintain their favorite trails and an excuse to visit them several times a year.

"Summer can be tough on trails," said Teresa Kight, a recreation specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "This summer's drought took a toll on plants, and that can leave soil along trails vulnerable to erosion. It only takes one heavy rain to start the process. Fall is an excellent time to repair water bars and check erosion problems before they get really bad."

Kight said participants in the Adopt-A-Trail Program include families, Boy and Girl Scout troops, hiking clubs and other organizations with an interest in the outdoors or a strong connection to a particular area. "This is a way to get involved in conservation in a way that has real, tangible results," she said. "It gives people a sense of pride and ownership."

Volunteers monitor, maintain and enhance trails and trailhead facilities. Common work projects include clearing loose rocks, sticks and branches that accumulate on trail surfaces, cutting back limbs and brush, cleaning water bars and drainage ditches, clearing debris from bridges, stairs and viewing decks and picking up trash.

"Adopt-A-Trail volunteers' work makes a huge difference in the quality of outdoor experience for everyone who visits conservation areas," said Kight. "Most of our trails are available for adoption. Anyone who wants to take one on can call me at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3636, or e-mail me at Teresa. Kight@mdc.mo.gov."

-Jim Low-


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