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SourDough News | July 11, 2017

 

A Wilderness Trail in Puerto Rico Imports Expertise from the Tongass National Forest ​

 

Tongass employees, Zach Holder and Dana Kimbell, shared their expertise with partners.
Tongass National Forest employees, Zach Holder and Dana Kimbell, shared their expertise with partners in the El Yunque National Forest.

Dana Kimbell, Tongass employee, works to restore and improve access on the El Toro Wilderness Trail,Collaborative project work restored and improved access on the El Toro Wilderness Trail in the El Yunque National Forest.

A collaboration between the Tongass National Forest and El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico provided training in trail restoration and maintenance techniques. Tongass employees Zach Holden and Dana Kimbell spent two weeks teaching volunteers and youth crews everything from how to safely use tools and how to properly maintain the trail in a wilderness without causing any disturbance to its historic structure.

 

The El Toro Wilderness Trail in El Yunque National Forest is now safer and more accessible thanks to the collaborative project led by Dana and Zach. The project also involved local volunteers, Youth Conservation Corps, Job Corps leaders and other U.S. Forest Service staff, all of whom dedicated their time and sweat to learn how to maintain this historic trail and make this collaboration effort a success.

 

Over the years, the trail had become very difficult to walk on because the water channels were covered with sticks, roots, mud or their structure had vanished completely. This resulted in poor drainage and big muddy puddles in the middle of the trail, causing people to walk deeper into the wilderness and creating new paths that destroyed wildlife and plants.

 

“We firmed up the soil higher on this trail, because this whole area was just muddy erosion and after we get gravel on it, it will be a nice trail that people will be able to naturally walk up,” Dana said describing the work to be done.

 

Thanks to this collaborative effort of dedicated volunteers and to the sponsorship by Amigos de El Yunque, the Forest Friends of Group, along with a grant from the Toyota Foundation, El Toro Wilderness Trail has been restored to a more sustainable and accessible condition. Water channels were fixed, mud puddles emptied and gravel was put in place to prevent soil erosion and creating a more enjoyable hiking experience.

 

The longer term goal is to create a local crew of volunteers and employees to learn trail maintenance skills and train additional volunteers in nearby communities to help with future trail maintenance projects and connect more with the Forest in this area; a positive outcome of collaboration with the local community and the agency all the way from Alaska to Puerto Rico.

 

Story and photos submitted by Monica Cruz
Greening  Youth Intern, El Yunque National Forest

 

The El Toro Wilderness Trail in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest.

The El Toro Wilderness Trail in Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest is safer and more accessible after staff from the Tongass National Forest, local volunteers, Youth Conservation Corps, and Job Corps leaders collaborate on a trail project.