Looking Forward to 2011
Now that we've paved the final 4 of 15 bridges, we've achieved a milestone in trail safety, a milestone we envisioned back in early 2009, but didn't know if we could actually achieve. Thank you for your support.
And while we'll always be committed to trail safety, for 2011 our focus shifts to "trail integrity" --- preserving what we have.
Next year our 50-mile trail will be 30 years old --- the oldest trail in the State of Ohio. As a result of our 50-mile end-to-end "trail reconnaissance" earlier this year, we have pictures of more than 285 maintenance items, e.g. trail cracking, root encroachment, sink holes, trail slumping, wash-outs, wash-overs, missing and broken fence boards, etc.
The State has neither the money nor the manpower to address all these issues. In the current budgetary environment, what we DO expect from the State in 2011 is the following:
- The same level of trail maintenance (e.g. mowing, blowing) we received in 2010.
- Advice and potential funding for invasive plant control.
- Advice and potential funding for crack sealing and root encroachment.
- Continued support from the State's Southern Equipment Crew for major trail repairs, e.g. the culvert wash-out north of Loveland, the culvert collapse at the Fort Ancient trail-head, etc.
- Continued maintenance and repairs on the State's aging fleet of vehicles and equipment. For example, "Big Blue" went down last week. "Big Blue" is the Park's single-most flexible and versatile piece of equipment --- a "skid steer" with a large mower on an articulated arm.
Since repaving the entire 50-mile trail would cost $30,000 per mile or $1.5 million, our only realistic option is to maintain what we have. While we have lots of ideas about signage, benches, information kiosks, picnic tables, reforestation, all of these things mean little if we don't maintain the trail. The following are the two most serious threats to the trail:
- Cracking. Cracks (as opposed to root encroachment below), left unfilled, will lead to the long term deterioration of the trail particularly after multiple winters of freezing and thawing. We're advised by Brown Construction and Paving that the best solution is to a) clean out the crack, b) fill the crack with fine silica sand, and c) dispense hot tar over the surface of the crack. For this we'll need equipment, materials, and lots of volunteer hours.
- Root Encroachment. In addition to being a raised "crack", some root encroachments represent a safety issue. At this point, a cost effective remedy is not clear. Our approach is twofold. First, we're in the process of identifying a technology for cutting the roots, e.g. a "trencher", "rocksaw", etc. Second, we're researching the best solution for trail remediation cutting the roots: a) cut the trail, remove the root under the trail, and patch the trail or b) grind the root encroachment "bump" down to trail level.
We figure that between filling cracks and remediating root encroachment, a volunteer crew may only be able to do .5-1.0 miles per day. If that turns out to be the actual rate, we may have to develop a multi-year plan, e.g. half the trail in 2011, the other half in 2012.
But the bottom line is simple --- we have no choice but to maintain what we have. If we don't take proactive and preventive steps NOW, we'll witness the continued gradual deterioration of the trail over the coming years.
So for 2011 we need YOU. We need your time as a volunteer. We need your expertise. We need your financial support.
So, I ask you, as you do your year-end financial planning and gifting, keep the Friends of the Little Miami State Park and the future of our trail in mind.
Did you know that in addition to one-time donations via credit cards, PayPal, etc., Friends of the Little Miami State Park also accepts "pledges", i.e. promises to pay a "pledged" amount over some number of weeks, months, quarters, or even years, etc.?
Looking Back on 2010
As a non-profit, our strategy is not to rely exclusively on donations and memberships for our survival. Therefore, we've established a fundraising strategy of multiple revenue streams. The following are our results for 2010:
- Grants. $1,500. We submitted three grant requests and were successful in one.
- Pipe-Safes. $400. We now have 11 pipe-safes installed along the trail.
- One-way Bike Rides. $275.
- T-shirts. $78.
- Memberships. $3,990.
- Donations: $5,967.
This total 2010 revenue of $11,710 was used for the following initiatives:
- Infrared Patch Remediation. $3,424. Brown Construction and Paving used infrared technology to remediate the 29 inferior asphalt patches south of Morrow that had become a safety issue.
- Paving of Final Four Bridges. $6,710. As of October 14, Brown Construction and Paving paved the final 4 wooden bridges.
- Adopt-a-Trail Tools. $1,000. This includes two Stihl "combi" tools, rental on a trencher to determine if it's effective against root encroachment, etc.
- Signage. $150. We put signs on the now 15 paved bridges informing trails users that the bridges were paved by Friends of the Little Miami State Park.
- Trail Promotion. $150. We now five Trail Promotion Kits (banners, brochures, business cards, cash box, receipt book, signup sheets, etc.) that we can use at events (e.g. Spring Valley Potato Festival, Gear Fest, etc.) and other trail promotion opportunities.
This total 2010 expense of $11,434 leaves our current bank balance at less than $500.
As we look forward to 2011, thank you for your encouragement and support.