Trailkeepers is a new program being piloted by a new non-profit (StreamTrails.org) in Fairfax County. It brings together Scouts, hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders to elevate the stream trails, now a neglected asset, to co-equal status with the more formal trails where taxpayer dollars fund manpower, equipment, and improvement. The core concept is simple: those using the stream trails nominate needed bridges, obstacles, heavy litter (rubber tires, for example); Scouts (and others) do the volunteer work; and the Park Authority, which is in the middle of a Needs Assessment, changes its policies to respect citizen needs while providing the necessary oversight for insurance, legal, and safety in the public interest (under the old policies, footbridges built by citizens are an encroachment subject to destruction at taxpayer expense).
Here are two graphics from our first completed project, rushed because the Scout in question turns eighteen the first week in March and needs a month for Boy Scouts of America to process his completed application. Future projects will take a more measured pace. Learn more at StreamTrails.org. Please also vote for the concept and need at the Fairfax County web page for the idea.
Scouts gain experience in county records research, geospatial location, 360 degree outreach to all possible stakeholders, deliberative citizen dialog, hybrid governance, stream and flood management, structural engineering (load bearing and safety standards), bureaucratic processes, and the economics of happiness — reconnecting citizens to life-affirming stream trails while reconnecting Scouts to the land in a tangible manner.
Scout Troops from any District desiring to adopt one of the stream trails (see Maps) are invited to communicate with Robert Steele, who is also the Friends of Scouting (Family) coordinator for Powhatan District, via email to robert.david.steele.vivas [at] gmail [dot] com. Individual Eagle Scout candidates should consult with their Eagle advisors, all initial contacts should be adult to adult to comply with Scouting Youth Protection protocols. Please do visit the County Needs Assessment web site, read this idea and if you wish vote for it here.