The Georgia Bounty Runners recently held a “Fun Run” a/k/a work weekend at the Beasley Knob OHV Trail System in Blairsville, Georgia March 18th through March 20th, 2016.
The GBR really stepped up for a very aggressive funds-match request that the USFS needed for this weekend. The USFS normally gets around $4,000 in matching funds with each of our regular work weekends. Due to the addition of brand new trails and work still needed, they had the lofty goal of $7,500 matching funds for this weekend alone.
The call went out and we raised over $10,000 in matching funds with the help of SIXTY-FIVE GBR attendees! This is one of the highest turn-outs we’ve ever had doing the work at Beasley Knob.
We started with a meeting with Teressa Brown, Forestry Technician with the Forest Service, at 1:00 PM at her office in Blairsville on Friday for pre-planning. We discussed how the OHV area weathered the wet winter closure. She indicated they had not been able to get out much over the trails because all of the rain so conditions were unknown. She did say some of the other areas had many downed trees and for us to “bring out the certified sawyers”. We discussed that three new gates had been installed and people have been making there way around the gates, so one of our big tasks would be to block these illegal by-passes at the new gates. She said she would have a few tools (one post-hole digger, shovel and a rock bar) and supplies (bags of sackret, posts, boards, screws to fasten the boards, etc.) at strategic locations for the work. Unfortunately both of the Forest Service’s gas powered augers were out of commission! Oh no!
After the meeting we headed over to the campsite. Since the area was still locked from the winter closure we had to install a specially coded combination lock at the gate so everyone could get in/out without much problem. Next, Rita and I set-up camp at the Satterfield Pay Station off Windy Hill Rd., as others arrived, we set-up plans for work parties to start evaluating the trails and start clearing back the brush. One crew led by Greg Uphole headed out 93C cutting back the brush off the trails and cleaning out water bars. Another crew, led by Kerry Vanderpool worked Trail 93 where they had to cut two trees off the trail.
On Saturday morning, we had a parking area full of vehicles!
We had a driver’s meeting and went over the game plan. I also gave a short safety briefing giving instruction on proper wear of safety equipment, care for distances around the sawyers and hospital location / reporting in case of an emergency. Then we split out in to five groups.
My group started at the Satterfield pay station going back towards Windy Hill Rd. We cut the grass, cut back the brush and picked up the trash as we walked. A group of us went to the new gate and installed short fences on both sides of the new gate blocking ghost trails going around gate. We then went to the Blue Rock pay station cutting brush off the road. We then cleared brush off the pay station area and off trail 93.
A second group, led by Kevin Sutz, started at the parking lot of 93D and went up Nicholson Gap down to F.S. road 117. They covered the complete trail 93G, Beasley Knob Mountain trail, down to F.S. road 117. They had to chainsaw three trees off the trail and move a small one out of the way. They went to the new gate to stop the illegal bypass around the gate. At the new gate they used a vehicle winch to pull some big rocks into the ghost trail opening. After that they found some posts and installed them behind the rocks they added a cross bar to keep ATVs or other vehicles from trying to drive over the rocks. They collected trash, cleaned water bars and cut back branches and tree limbs that were growing over trails .
Another group led by Ralph Payne rode 93B cutting back brush and clearing water bars.
Our forth group led by Dave Logan rode trail 93D. They cut back brush and cleaned out water bars. They ran into a huge tree blocking 93D. The tree’s root ball pulled up and over blocking the trail. The root ball was over 6 feet tall and the tree at its base was over 4 feet in diameter, impossible for them to move. They changed their route going on another trail and back tracked to the other side of this tree.
The fifth group led by Paul Fon traveled trail 93C cutting back brush and cleaning out water bars. His group also had to cut two trees off 93C, one tree at two different locations.
Since we could not finish all work on Saturday a group of us stayed overnight and finished the needed work on Sunday. This group repaired part of the fence behind the sign at the Satterfield pay station. We also cut the grass and cut brush, back clearing the camp and parking areas.