Wild Alabama receives significant grant to address trail sustainability issues in the Sipsey Wilderness!
In the winter of 2023, Wild Alabama collaborated with the Bankhead National Forest to apply for a grant to address sustainability issues on 20.5 miles of trails within the Sipsey Wilderness. The trails chosen were 209 that runs along the Sipsey Fork, 200 and 203 along Borden Creek, 206 along Thompson Creek and 207 along Braziel Creek. Other considerations were a washed out culvert on horse trail 208.
The Sipsey Wilderness is loved and adored by many for its rich biodiversity, opportunity for solitude and unconfined recreation and scenery that is unmatched along Alabama's landscapes. It is truly a gem. Yet, loving a place is a double edged sword. Many factors have contributed to washed out trails, unsafe water crossings and sedimentation into the creeks. Footsteps, wild pigs, and flood events have contributed to the sedimentation. The consequence is compromised habitat for our water dwelling critters. For example, the Black Warrior Waterdog which is endemic to the Black Warrior watershed depends on clean water for survival and is now on the federal register for endangered species. Find out more about the waterdog HERE.
In early February of 2023, Wild Alabama received word from American Trails that they were awarded funding from the Legacy Trails Grant Program. Find out more HERE. The nuts and bolts of the grant is three fold.
A professional trail contractor was hired to assess the 20.5 miles of focus trails. We have already succeeded in this first step and want to thank Becton Trails and Fina Trails for spending a week on these trails and providing us a workable document that has prescriptions for mitigation for each segment.
Becton and Fina Trails provided hands on training to Forest Service and Wild Alabama staff and volunteers for the Backcountry Horsemen of America Warrior Mountain Chapter. Skills learned will be taught to volunteers that sign up to help with this project. They learned how to construct water drainage structures, trail tread and trail reroutes. NEPA considerations will come into play when necessary.
A considerable project will be completed on horse trail 208 where a culvert washed out many years ago leaving a 10 foot wide and 15 foot deep hole. Determinations on this project are forthcoming.
We need your help!
There are two leads on this project, Lindsay Madison and Kim Waites. Lindsay is main lead driving the boots on the ground efforts to lead the work days. Kim is helping to recruit volunteers and showcase the project on social media as the project moves along. Please email them if you are interested in signing up or to ask general questions. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and CC email@example.com. Put Legacy Trails Project in the subject line.
The timeline for completion for the work is the end of 2024. Work to be completed will fall under one of these tasks.
Building water drainages structures such as rolling grade dips.
Establishing new tread on washed out portions of trails. Simple and short reroutes.
Decommisioning social trails that contribute to confusion.
Simple rock structures at creek crossings.
There is potential for greater projects as prescribed by the trail assessor which will take more funding and collaboration with the local district to address NEPA and environmental impact concerns. Projects like these will address problems at the "squeeze" on trail 200.