Managing High-Use Trails: Why Trail Stewards are a Necessity in Creating Safe, Sustainable Trails

A TRAILSNextâ„¢ presentation

Learn how trail steward and trail-building programs have worked to make the public better informed and more responsible trail users while protecting the resource.

by Hank Osborn, Director of Programs, New York - New Jersey Trail Conference

Overuse and misuse of the most popular outdoor destinations are threatening the ecological integrity of these special places. In the greater New York metropolitan region, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is taking a leadership role in coordinating stewardship efforts to keep up with growing threats. There is no one answer to solving this issue; it is our belief that we can create better outdoor experiences through user education, public participation, and sustainable, on-the-ground solutions.

The Trail Conference has joined with land managers and local partners to begin a multi-phased stewardship approach on the Appalachian Trail, at Breakneck Ridge, and in the Catskills. Learn how trail steward and trail-building programs have worked to make the public better informed, more responsible trails users while protecting the resource. Because when trails are used responsibly, they protect both the people who use them and the environment that surrounds them.

Learning Objectives: Participants will enjoy an increased awareness of the effectiveness of Trail Stewards to increase public safety and protect the environmental resource through on-the-ground education of outdoor ethics, and how this program complements efforts to build and maintain sustainable trails.

About the Author

Hank Osborn is an avid outdoor educator and advocate. He joined the Trail Conference staff in 2013 as East Hudson Program Coordinator. In 2020, Hank became the Trail Conference's Director of Programs. Hank has a long history and a deep passion for the outdoors. He began maintaining trails as a boy in Garrison, N.Y. and later, as an adult, chaired the Garrison School Forest Committee; was appointed to the Philipstown Greenway Committee, and became a Hudson Highlands Land Trust hike leader. Hank has taught geology, environmental science and ecology at the high school level and served as associate professor of physical education and rowing coach at Columbia University and Dartmouth College. Hank graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Sociology and Geology and did graduate work at Dartmouth College with a focus in environmental studies. He has completed two National Outdoor Leadership School courses and currently serves on the Beacon Greenway Committee. Hank is President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks. He lives in the Hudson Highlands where he and his wife enjoy hiking the trails with their children.

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New York's Breakneck Ridge: A Challenge for Hikers Becomes a Challenge to Sustain

This presentation will showcase elements of a comprehensive planning effort underway, and will focus on specific management actions including data collection, trail stewardship, maintenance, and a Leave No Trace hot spot event.