Expanding Trail Steward Training, Presence

June 01, 2019
Hank Osborn
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Expanding Trail Steward Training, Presence


The Trail Conference is committed to educating and assisting the public in the safe, enjoyable, and responsible use of trails.

One of the most successful ways we accomplish this is through our Trail Steward program. This season, Trail Stewards serving through the Trail Conference Conservation Corps will be stationed on the summits of Slide Mountain and Giant Ledge in the Catskills, on the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain State Park, and at Breakneck Ridge. They’ll be active on these trails every Saturday and Sunday and most Fridays and holidays through October sharing preparedness tips and encouraging responsible recreation. An additional day each week will be dedicated to trail work, including helping our volunteer leaders on projects and leading volunteers on trail maintenance outings and garbage pickups. Another day will be spent indoors inputting and analyzing data collected in the field. In the fall, Stewards will begin a program with local schools to go into classrooms and teach natural resource protection and anti-graffiti education. Our Trail Stewards completed a rigorous, five-week training program this spring that included everything from role-playing trail user scenarios to map skills and emergency protocols. During training in the Catskills, Stewards met with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) foresters and rangers; they also attended a three-day, DEC-hosted workshop for backcountry stewards in the Adirondacks. The Hudson Highlands Land Trust provided two trainings on natural resource protection. Stewards were also educated in Leave No Trace principles and now have the Trainer designation by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. Our Stewards are now also certified in Wilderness First Aid. Later this summer, Conservation Corps Stewards will be joined by volunteers to enhance coverage at key trailheads. Check nynjtc.org/stewards to learn how to get involved with this program.

NJDEP Receives Steward Training

In May, eight Trail Stewards hired by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) attended training at Trail Conference Headquarters. In addition to learning about our volunteer program, Leave No Trace principles, data collection on our Avenza maps, safe hiking practices, and role-playing challenging scenarios with trail users, they also learned how to collect important data about our local hikers. How many people are visiting a given area? When? Where are they getting lost? What loop hikes are people making out of different trails? The answers to all of these questions will inform State Park and Trail Conference decisions on everything from where to mount directional signs to when certain trails should be rerouted. These Stewards are working through the summer heat to make sure the lands we love are used safely and respectfully. It’s a hard job, so be sure to give them your thanks if you bump into them on the trail!

-Peter Dolan