Stream Trails https://streamtrails.org Hybrid Governance - Churches, Cyclists & Hikers, Homeowner Associations (HOA), Individuals, & Park Authorities Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 Lessons Learned One Year On…. https://streamtrails.org/2016/08/23/lessons-learned-one-year-on/ Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:37:10 +0000 http://streamtrails.org/?p=192 Click on Image to Enlarge

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When Scoutmasters take an interest, Eagle Scout candidates who choose to do footbridges (that appear to be usable by horses) are rendering a major public service — they connect the Scouts to the land and the public to the land, and they offer a major alternative to the County trails that are far removed from the water views that come with stream trails.

Park Authorities do not have the manpower, budget, or interest to do stream trail maintenance and new construction. At the same time, because these are public lands, construction is forbidden unless the Park Authority approves the Eagle Project. Under the leadership of Chairman Sharon Buluva, a process has been established for Fairfax County that could be a model for other counties. Hats off in particular to the County insurance manager, who certified the projects as “covered” if approved. The process includes a laminated “stake notice” at the site for 30 days.

Eight formal lessons shared with a recent Eagle Advisor:

Eagle 02 Stake Notice01 Doing the Zillow overhead and the tax map to identify 360 degree adjacent stakeholders matters. On Eagle 01, had we not done this, we would have put the bridge on what turned out to be private property. The Scout learns about hybrid governance — consulting all stakeholders, not just the obvious one nearest the point. The best time to take azimuths is in the middle of winter when all the leaves are gone — a District program could survey for sites across its areas in the winter, then farm out the sites to Eagle candidates for permission development, and build in the spring. Each Troop should maintain a tax map for its area of operations that can be used by more than one Scout. Troops become Stewards of the Earth for their chosen area of interest.

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02 Fairfax County sets the gold standard for mapping available to the public BUT stream trails, which are available as part of a PDF poster than can be printed by anyone, are NOT available on the hand-held app (Trail Buddy) that walkers, runners, and bikers use. This is a major opportunity that would also allow Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to plot needed and installed footbridges while also flagging to the public via Trail Buddy that BSA Scout Troop N installed and maintains each of the shown footbridges. This is also part of the geospatial aspect of the proposed new merit badge.

03 There are select landscaping companies  that will donate driver and truck time to move materials from point of purchase to point of assembly to trail entry point, and they will also loan chainsaws, electric drills, and other tools as needed, all they ask is for a note of appreciation in the next Scout newsletter.

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04 Dads overbuild. My biggest problem was Dads changing the specs from 10″ to 12″ from 6 feet apart to 6 inches apart for the cross beams, from 4 x 4 to 6 x 4 for the low bridges, all of this has cost implications for the families and weight implications for the Scouts carrying materials into the woods. It also has stream wash implications — 12″ is more of a surface than 10″ — I use the three words wealth, weight, and wash to emphasize to Dads that they need to STICK TO THE SPECS. I personally chose not to get involved in horse bridges because I worried about the weights, but I suspect that you could make a real contribution by establishing a design that can carry horses as well as people. My design was designed for 250-300 lbs, since a horse has four legs and the 1000 lbs or so is distributed it may be that the same bridge can handle a horse, but horse experts should be asked about this and that would be one of your Scout’s original contributions.  NOTE: low-lying bridges crossing shallows need 1′ wide 2′ deep cement footers with metal brackets connecting cement to 4′ x 4′ base post — the bridges should be within two inches of ground level in these instances.

05 Dads are hugely helpful in a larger context. Among the greatest contributions Dads made in addition to helping their sons pre-build (but not assemble) the bridges at home was to do chainsaw trimming up and down the trail on either side of the bridge. Combined with younger scouts clearing debris including the occasional tire from the stream itself, each project was more than just a bridge, it brought a trail section up to God’s standard.

06 Boys Life will do a nation-wide story but the District has to believe in the project and champion it. A merit badge is do-able but needs the direct support of the top leaders of Scouting.

06 Trails need more than bridges. They need regular walkers who clear fallen trees and collect debris after floods. Right now Difficult Run has two fallen trees over the trail, I believe an Eagle Project could be made of a Scout getting County approval and creating a team to walk the half mile stretch and safely clear (with chain saw) the two fallen trees while also removing four tires that are in mid-stream at different points and should be both removed and delivered to the County recycling facility.

07 This is potentially a $12 million a year national fund-raising opportunity for the BSA, something that would bring Scouts, churches, bike clubs, bird watchers, homeowners associations, citizens, and county authorities closer together in improving our sacred Earth. All streams across America is neglected — this is a huge opportunity for the Boy Scouts of America.

08 The BSA Eagle Project PDF is a *pig* of a document — from the Stone Age in terms of file size — and should never, ever, be sent to anyone via email. Instead the County and other points of contact should receive the draft proposal in powerpoint form (see below example) and the SINGLE PAGE from the Eagle Project where County signature is required to approve the project on public lands. County knows how to send a letter of acceptance and appreciation when the project is reported back to them as completed, see the sample completion report below.

Below are best in class products any Scoutmaster can use to move ahead.

Eagle 03 Completion Photograph

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Eagle 01 Newsletter Final Write-Up 1.2

Eagle 01 Load Bearing and Handrail Calculations

Eagle 02 Draft Proposal

Eagle 02 Stake Notice

Eagle 02 Stake Final Report

Eagle 03 New Standing Water Bridge

Proposed Public Lands Merit Badge – Outline, Sample Content

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Eagle Project 001 Completed https://streamtrails.org/2015/02/03/eagle-project-001-completed/ Tue, 03 Feb 2015 16:14:18 +0000 http://streamtrails.org/?p=179 Hats off to Life Scout Nick Dunie and his team, shown below with the completed bridge and supporting photos. Nick has set a new national standard that we hope to pilot first across Fairfax County, then VA-MD-PA, and then nationally.

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Among the lessons learned from Nick’s experience are the importance of tax maps and accurate azimuth bearings to known houses to ensure all stakeholders know exactly where a bridge is planned in relation to property lines; site visits by engaged stakeholders; the adequacy of 10″ treated joists (12″ is waste, weight, and wash resistance — the three W’s); and the added value of doing trail clearance and validating a new project for another Eagle candidate. Powhatan District, Troop 55, and Nick’s family and friends have done us all proud.

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The Miller Heights Neighborhood Association and the Fox Lake Property Owners Association have both expressed their appreciation for Nick’s contribution to the community; StreamTrails.org has inspected the work and signed off; the bridge will fall under Fairfax County Park Authority for insurance, legal, and safety purposes.

If you like what Nick has done, please go to the Fairfax County Park Authority Needs Assessment, Idea #61 here: http://tinyurl.com/Stream-Trails, and vote for the idea. Share this short URL with others. With all due humility, elevating Stream Trails across this land is not only life-affirming, it may be the single most important change in the modern history of Park Authorities nation-wide, affirming citizen needs and citizen access in a manner never before so respected.

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Eagle Project 001 — Footbridge https://streamtrails.org/2015/01/21/eagle-project-001-footbridge/ Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:27:50 +0000 http://streamtrails.org/?p=166 This Scout has set a gold standard for what I hope will become a national program. The briefing can be viewed below or downloaded as a six-slide pdf:

Eagle 01 Planning Package (6 Slides) 1.8

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This will be updated once fully documented, approved, and built.

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Site Update: Miller Heights Reports & Nominations https://streamtrails.org/2014/12/28/site-update-miller-heights-reports-nominations/ Sun, 28 Dec 2014 21:09:40 +0000 http://streamtrails.org/?p=112 Slide5Today we have loaded 4 Nominations (6 bridges) and 7 Reports (3 Trims and 1 Tree Removal Protecting 2 Embankments, 3 Tire Removals).

All Nominations and Reports still require additional details.  Work in progress!

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Maps for Fairfax County https://streamtrails.org/2014/12/28/maps-for-fairfax-county/ Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:12:49 +0000 http://streamtrails.org/?p=76 Click on Image to Enlarge

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20 maps have been posted at the Maps page. Each represents a specific bounded Stream Trails area that one or more Scout troops or cycling organizations or any other combination of sponsors could choose to adopt for action.

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Hybrid Governance of Stream Trails https://streamtrails.org/2014/12/22/test-post/ Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:26:55 +0000 http://streamtrails.org/?p=10 Click on Image to Enlarge

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In October 2014 the Fairfax County Park Authority destroyed a perfectly good footbridge that had been in place, with two others, for over a decade. Built by the Miller Heights Neighborhood Association with the advice of structural and flood engineers, it was one of three footbridges enabling easy passage for both pedestrians and dogs, and bicyclists, from Vale Road to the north down to Oakton Road in the south.

We are pleased to report that the footbridge has been rebuilt by the County, with both an apology and a commitment to take a “second look” at the existing strategy and policies related to stream trails and citizen-built bridges.

Chairman Sharon Bulova and her staff, as well as Park Director Kirk Kincannon and Park Division Director Todd Johnson, responded with intelligence and integrity to citizen protests.

Over the course of two months of professional interaction we learned:

  • In the grand scheme of things, stream trails are considered “informal” trails that are not maintained by the Park Authority
  • Footbridges, horsebridges, and anything else built without Park Authority permission are considered encroachments subject to immediate destruction at taxpayer expense
  • The Park Authority estimates that there are 50-100 miles of stream trails within Fairfax County. They don’t actually know.
  • While private property lines bordering on park lands held in public trust are a matter of clear public record, there are many overlapping easements and rights of way (US Geological Survey and utility companies, for example), such that for any given point, it is not a simple matter to nail down who all the stakeholders might be.
  • We estimate there are no fewer than 500 footbridges as well as some pretty sizeable horsebridges across the varied stream trails of Fairfax County. The actual total could well be over 1,000.
  • The original assumption by the Park Authority that citizen-built footbridges and horsebridges were a legal liability and a safety hazard has been found to be incorrect. The insurance authority has offered the view that as long as all bridges are inspected annually for safety (not necessarily by a County employee) and constructed to a common standard (approved by the Park Authority), there is no bar to registering and protecting all such works.

Preliminary discussions with various parties have been helpful.  It appears that there may be an opportunity to bring together volunteer labor, money from homeowners, Homeowner Associations (HOA), and perhaps even varied sponsors (churches, cycling clubs, corporations), and oversight from the Park Authority, to elevate Stream Trails to fully maintained status with a strategic plan for assuring ease of passage for pedestrians, dogs, and cyclists.

Over the course of the next few months, we will seek to develop formal agreements and standards, and take this new approach to Stream Trails for a test drive. If this proves as fruitful as we anticipate, the concept and related information will be offered to other counties in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and then to any and all Counties that might wish to take an interest.

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