Deam Wilderness Trail Maintenance

The Charles C. Deam Wilderness area was designated a wilderness in 1982 and encompasses nearly 13,000 acres of the Hoosier National Forest. Wilderness designation places this area in a special legal status (subject to the 1964 Wilderness Act). It is managed to preserve a natural condition and provide opportunities for solitude which requires special maintenance techniques.

Ruthie plowing hillside Ruthie, the Forest Service mule, and Rod Fahl maintain trails in the Wilderness with a sled, since Wilderness regulations forbid the use of wheeled vehicles. 

crew lost in the mud There were places in the Wilderness where the mud could almost swallow a well meaning trail maintenance crew! (well maybe not- but the trail WAS muddy.)

Trails are also occasionally re-aligned and re-located to eliminate problems and move them to a soil type or location that will allow the trail to be easier to maintain. Discussion of where to reroute trails out of drainages

hillside view of mule plowing trail A Vulcan Hillside plow is used to dig the trail corridor. Then the trail was graded smooth. In some places geotextile materials and rocks are laid on the trail bed to protect wet areas and drainages. Materials are then hauled in to build structures to route water off the trail.

Geotextile material and rocks are laid down to protect drainages and wet areas.

mules packing in materials for water structures building switchbacks

switchback completed on wilderness trail Mules and horses are used to pack gravel and other materials in to maintain trails in the Wilderness area. The saddlebags you see on these animals are full of gravel to fill low places on trails and harden the trail in areas of high clay concentration. This better protects the resources from trail traffic. Wherever possible, we use native materials such as local river gravel to give a more natural appearance to the trails. Here crews fill buckets with gravel. The buckets are then emptied into the saddlebags of a waiting pack train which packs the gravel in to the area it is needed. Although the Hoosier National Forest does have a mule and a horse, the pack trains periodically come in from the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming to assist with trail maintenance. Crews and animals also come from the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho. These animals are more accustomed to carrying saddlebags full of gravel. loading saddlebags

filling buckets with gravel to haul into wilderness loading gravel

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