By Maddy PUMILA
Volunteers from the community are joining together to keep local trails safe and restoring damaged trails.
The Community Services & Parks Dept. of Glendale is working with Glendale police and fire personnel to launch the volunteer Glendale Trail Safety Patrol. The patrol will assist the City of Glendale, which owns about 5,000 acres including the Verdugo Mountains, San Rafael Hills and Deukmejian Park, in maintaining the trails. The City of Glendale used to have park rangers, but the program was disbanded. The city also had park naturalists, but the program was eliminated due to budget cuts.
“Some members of the community came to us and said, ‘How are we going to make sure our trails and open space are safe and people understand the rules?’” said Marc Stirdivant, senior administrative analyst for the City of Glendale Community Services and Parks Dept. which supervises the volunteer Glendale Trail Safety Patrol. “If there are any medical emergencies or criminal activity, it gets reported to the proper authorities. We began to think the way we can do it is through a volunteer safety program.”
After studying programs in other cities and counties, Stirdivant looked for volunteers. Sixteen volunteers were trained for the patrol: eight hikers and eight mountain bikers.
The volunteers commit to four hours a month. They assist city staff to make sure trails are safe and ensure resources are not damaged. If there is a medical emergency, volunteers call Glendale police or fire departments. They will be equipped with either two-way radios or cellphones.
“Members of the mountain bike unit had to be really good mountain bikers, strong mountain bikers,” Stirdivant said. “And they had to pass a class that’s offered once a month in the Santa Monica mountains by the Concerned Off Road Bicycling Association called the Mountain Bike Skills Class. They put our guys through a series of tests … riding over logs, riding down stairs, riding through creeks.”
To take part in the hike unit, volunteers had to hike six miles in Brand Park in two and a half hours.
The volunteers went through Red Cross training and attended presentations by the Glendale fire and police departments on handling situations that could arise on the trails.
Will Campbell is a volunteer in the mountain bike unit.
“My motivation is not political at all. It’s because I’ve been doing this for 20 plus years,” Campbell said. “I think I owe a debt to these trails because of the countless times I’ve been up on them. I’m happy to be able to do this to give back, not only to the area but to make it an enjoyable experience for everybody.”
Mark Kobayashi is also a part of the mountain bike unit.
“I’m really thankful I have these trails basically outside my door,” Kobayashi said. “That’s something I never had before. I really appreciate it and I’d like to keep and improve that and keep them accessible to everybody.”
Stirdivant is recruiting a third unit called the river unit. It would be a similar sort of patrol, but only at three locations: Glendale Narrows Riverwalk, the lower area of Brand Park and the lower area of Deukmejian Wilderness Park. The patrols would be easier, so the tests wouldn’t be as strenuous. Contact the parks department at (818) 548-2000 or email Stirdivant at MStirdivant@ci.glendale.ca.us for more information about joining any of the patrol units.
There are also people restoring the trails.
Karen Buehler is a City of Glendale volunteer who has been organizing restoration crews to go to Deukmejian Wilderness Park since the Station Fire.
“During that fire, the whole park – all of the trails – were burned to the ground,” Buehler said.
New growth sprouted in the middle of the trails, making them difficult to follow. People stopped using them. Restoring the trails involves manual labor. The first step is for volunteers to pull out by hand or dig out the brush. Then they dig out the overgrowth, and restore the trail to a flat surface. So far, about 70 volunteers in the last four months have taken part in the restoration efforts. Organizations that have helped with the restoration include the Sierra Club and the YMCA Pilot Program, which is a teenage volunteer organization.
“We are extremely grateful to Buehler for organizing the restoration of trails,” said Shelley Owens, who hikes in Deukmejian Wilderness Park.
To thank Buehler for her hard work to restore the trails, volunteers organized a buried treasure Valentine’s Hunt.
“We are very close to reaching our goal of completing the trails in the park to a landmark [location] called a Circle of Rocks,” Buehler said.
On March 9, the trail restoration crew is meeting again at Deukmejian. The day goes from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and includes lunch.
To take part, contact Buehler at Karen.Buehler2@gmail.com.