In October of 2011 trail coordinator George Trowbridge got the final portions of the Ionia Adopt-A-Trail program implemented.
The program is a joint venture between the wMMBA, Dan's Bike Shop of Ionia, and the DNR. Trowbridge was approached earlier in 2011 by Gary Ferguson, the manager of Dan's Bike Shop, about executing the program because he had several of his weekly group riders showing interest in trail maintenance. The group rides were using more of the trail than ever before because the maintenance has been kept up. They recognized the effort put forth and wanted to get involved. Trowbridge then sat down with Ferguson and together came up with a plan. They both agreed that it was very important to make the plan as easy as possible for the volunteers to understand their requirements, but also as flexible as possible so the volunteers were not limited to specific days or times to work.
In the end Ferguson gathered up some 20+ names of people interested in maintaining the trails of Ionia and offered to make his shop the maintenance headquarters for the Ionia trails, where he would distribute maintenance information and control who was assigned to what trail segments.
Trowbridge provided paper documentation for the volunteers that included GPS’d satellite photos of ½ mile maintenance sections along with a written description of the section, recommended tools, optional tools, and expected maintenance conditions. Additionally volunteers were provided with a small maintenance cheat sheet/checklist that included the do’s and don’ts of trail maintenance borrowed from IMBA trail books and customized to the environment of the Ionia State Recreation Area.
Recognizing the value of the volunteers, the DNR got involved by providing a renewable one year Use Permit at no charge and also offered to adopt some trail segments that they are better equipped to handle even with their limited staffing.
The year of 2012 should show a nice reduction in labor efforts for any one individual out at Ionia and this Adopt-A-Trail effort will begin paving the way to adding more trail mileage in the future. The initial reaction of the volunteers to the program has been very positive due to its self-explanatory nature, extensive documentation, and schedule flexibility.