I Still haven't ridden there! You been over to ambergate yet?
Sherwood Pines/Nottingham Trails, Quality, Funding and dig days.
I see improvements to the trails there almost each time I go back,
It would seem Cannock Chase gets a good amount of funding... Which has led me to question where funding comes from when building and maintaining tracks, I would have a guess as the Forestry Commission?
Not hugely - the key to Cannock Chase is that the volunteer group is small, but very active. They're out there every Sunday working on both the XC and DH trails, have Thursday sessions once or twice a month, and have the Big Build Days every now and again (next one is October 20th). It also helps having a really good relationship with the FC - I think a couple of the rangers are mtbers.
I don't know if it's still the case, but the amount of Forestry Commission funding used to be based on the number of volunteers helping out on the trail. Funding also comes from membership sign ups, donations, a small amount from the Birches Valley car park, and some local companies donate materials.
There's also the Giant Sponsorship that paid for the Tackaroo stuff that replaced 13/14/15/16. I believe that the FC have a harvesting contractor clause that says that excessive/avoidable damage to the mtb trails has to be paid for - hence Pot of Gold and Over the Rainbow being resurfaced recently. And hence High Voltage not being hugely damaged by harvesting, because the contractors used mats for their machinery to move along, which minimised the damage to the trail.
They're out there every Sunday working on both the XC and DH trails, have Thursday sessions once or twice a month, and have the Big Build Days every now and again (next one is October 20th).
If that's the case, where are they getting there funding from? it's all good have a small, dedicated and consistent army of trail builders but if there's no money, there's surely no materials?
It would seem Cannock have right people behind the scenes to get it to work.
Whilst I can't comment in any detail about Sherwood as comparisons have been drawn to Cannock here goes.
The reason that the trails have developed the way they have is largely down to two reasons 1. Highly committed volunteers and 2. FC representatives who have seen the benefit of the trails and have fought tooth and nail to support them.
It's now over 10 years since we approached the FC about developing a few hundred metres of singletrack and as it happens we dropped on at the right time. Plans were afoot for the bike (hire) shop but the FC didn't have the knowledge or resources to develop a complimentary trail and here we we're knocking on their door asking if we could experiment with a trail.
Since then a whole host of other ingredients have gone into the mix to develop what you find there today but the two original factors remain. The FC team have grown and include a number of people who are equally passionate about the project as the original contact and Chase Trails continues to be run by guys who were there at the start (or very shortly after the start).
Money is an issue of course, were it not for the grants and sponsorship received we wouldn't have 2 full XC trails for instance but if this funding hadn't been received there would still be managed trails today.
The increase in visitor numbers is key. Whilst you can't see a specific proportion if every car parking ticket going into the trails the revenue generated enables the FC to allocate a larger amount to its annual commitment to the trail and this is what drives our day to day work as it provides a contribution to tools, visits from machines to do heavy lifting and shifting and the steady supply of materials.
That's what keeps us going. We have a good stock of tools which is maintained by public donations via memberships and so on which helps Chase Trails to maintain a level of independence and as it stands a fantastic balance has been achieved.
The interesting turn is that more recently following some restructuring the FC team at Cannock Chase are now part if a larger district which is based at Sherwood, hopefully this will allow the Sherwood team to understand better how the Cannock model works and improvements can be made
The key message though is that in locations like these volunteer input is crucial as unlike some of the bigger central the FC don't have the money to go out and buy a trail. Without a (very small) team of committed volunteers managed trails wouldn't exist. In some locations these volunteers support a programme of trail development, in our case they ARE the trail development.
If trails are to develop at Sherwood beyond what they are now then the two ingredients to which I referred at the start of this ramble need to exist.
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