The Dan River Basin Association and Patrick Henry Community College are teaming up on trail building, and possibly other activities throughout the year.
DRBA Executive Director Tiffany Haworth and Brian Williams, program manager for Martinsville/Henry County, recently spoke with students in the PHCC Environmental Club about collaborating on a project to expand the Beaver Creek trails, starting with PHCC's campus trails.
The college currently has an almost mile-long loop trail that begins at the parking lot above Frith Building and follows the shoreline of Beaver Creek Reservoir. This trail was the first phase of the two-part Beaver Creek Trail system, which includes the Rock Ridge Trail that opened in April 2012.
The PHCC Loop Trail will connect to an existing trail behind the J. Burness Frith Economic Development Center that goes approximately a mile and a half through the woods, down by the creek and over the reservoir, according to Haworth. She said it extends to the end of the property and comes up behind PHCC's Maintenance Building.
"Creating a spur trail would be a connector to create an almost four-mile trail system on campus," she said. "We're all about effective use of our time and resources, so a little trail like that would have a large impact."
Haworth encouraged Dylan Gage Jones, founder of the PHCC Environmental Club, to have a volunteer group of around 30 members, which would probably be able to complete the spur trail within an afternoon.
"We're all about connecting people and getting them outdoors," Haworth said. "Not many people spend much time outdoors... By connecting this trail, hopefully, we'll get some students interested in going out."
Haworth said the spur trail is probably around 1,000 feet, but with switchbacks, it could be as much as 3,000 to 4,000 feet.
When DRBA builds trails, Haworth said, "We're looking for the least impactful way in the natural environment. So when we make a weird turn where you could just go straight, switchbacks allow us to preserve a beautiful pine or something on the trail we don't want to cut down."
Williams said he will facilitate a training session at PHCC with volunteers who want to work on the trail. Jones said he's currently working with other campus clubs to organize a volunteer group.
"There are different types of tools used specifically for trail building, like a Pulaski," Williams said. "It's very easy to do. It's just making sure the slope is right once you have the trail laid out."
A Pulaski is a trail-building tool with an axe blade on one side and a hoe on the other, which many trail builders use to break dirt, cut roots or stumps. Williams said volunteers could loan out tools from DRBA to complete the spur trail.
Jones said he's looking forward to making PHCC a better place.
"This is our school - it's good to show that we're contributing to bettering our campus," he said. "It'll be a great thing for PHCC to have these options on campus." DRBA also spoke about other upcoming volunteer opportunities that include signage on Philpott Lake and creating a blue trail, the newly created Trout N About 5K run that will be held in May to raise money for Trout in the Classroom, and Smith River Fest coming up in August.
No date has been scheduled yet for the trail building workshop. Anyone is welcome to participate. To find out more about this volunteer opportunity, email email@example.com.