OSI Guide to Independent Stewardship for Trails

This training was developed to teach the fundamentals of basic trail maintenance to volunteers working independently in groups of three or less people. Local, state and federal land management agencies will benefit from this training because participants will gain skills that allow them to perform needed routine trail maintenance with minimal supervision and coordination.

by Outdoor Stewardship Institute

Land management agencies will therefore know what to expect when individuals and groups trained with these materials perform such routine trail maintenance. Volunteer stewardship groups and organizations can benefit because this training is less time-consuming than standard Crew Leader training, it strengthens the base of their training program, and it opens up new volunteer opportunities that volunteers can take advantage of on a flexible time basis.

When the course concludes, trainees will know how to identify and perform basic trail corridor, trail tread, and drainage structure maintenance, as well as how to recognize and report on other more complex maintenance needs that are beyond the intended scope of this training. Trainees will also be taught basic safety and risk assessment and how to appropriately work with and represent volunteer organizations and land management agencies. Individual land management agencies may have their own established protocols. Ultimately, newly trained Independent Stewards will need to check with these entities to get any additional training and information that is specific to that land management agency.

Another desired benefit of this training is that all groups that use the standardized training materials will have a common point of reference when discussing trail maintenance, safety, and tool use. This is a basic course for independent trail maintenance. The limited scope of this course may not allow trainees sufficient time to practice all the skills covered. The Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI) recommends that trainees gain further confidence in their skills before working independently by mentoring under an experienced trail worker. We also recommend that a trainee’s skills be evaluated by their sponsoring organization before being allowed to perform trail maintenance independently.

This basic course prepares newly-trained individuals to engage in independent trail maintenance with a maximum of 2 un-trained volunteers. This is not intended as a Crew Leader for Trails training. Those wishing to learn more about crew leadership, trail maintenance, and construction, or volunteer project management, should seek additional training opportunities with their sponsoring organization or the Outdoor Stewardship Institute.

Attached document published January 2016

About the Author


OSI provides high quality outdoor stewardship training to volunteers, land management agencies, and other stewardship organizations in Colorado and around the country. Volunteers and staff from any agency can take advantage of OSI’s low-cost training courses to learn new skills and prepare for leadership roles. OSI works with experts in the field to develop and teach in-depth curriculum.

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