Crew members carry forth these lessons and passion into their communities and future endeavors.
The Iowa DNR’s Trails program uses AmeriCorps funds, Resource Enhancement and Protection funds, and Lake Restoration funds, combined with Recreational Trails Program dollars administered by the Iowa DOT to build and maintain multi-use hiking, equestrian, mountain bike, cross-country ski, and snowmobile trails in Iowa’s state parks.
A full-time program staff of three manages full-time and seasonal AmeriCorps members who work with hand tools and power equipment to build sustainable new trails and maintain old trail systems, many of which were laid out by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Trail crew members learn environmental stewardship, community service, leadership, teamwork, and a responsible work ethic.
Crew members carry forth these lessons and passion into their communities and future endeavors. They also provide training to their partners such as park friends groups, county conservation boards, and trail user clubs in basic trail preventive maintenance and environmental stewardship.
Each year the crew develops and maintains trail and trail infrastructure that reduces soil runoff and mitigates human impact on the land while providing safe recreational opportunities. They build pedestrian bridges, boardwalks, retaining walls, benches, trailhead signs, accessibility improvements, fencing, hand rail, check steps, box steps, etc., and provide safe, sustainable, and stable trail tread for recreation.
Projects vary widely and are selected using criteria developed by the Iowa DNR Trails program staff encompassing concerns such as safety, environmental impact, immediate need, and volunteer support.
The program has been highly successful for over 13 years using AmeriCorps crews and before that for many years with prison crews and interns.