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Posts Tagged ‘Sitka Conservation Society Community Conservation Corps’

Saturday, June 5, is National Trails Day this year, and the Sitka Cycling Club will celebrate by hosting a work party on its newest single-track mountain bike trail, Haa Latseen.

The work party takes place from 9 a.m. to noon, and takes place on the new loop off the Sitka Cross Trail. To reach the new loop, enter the Cross Trail from the Sitka High School entrance and go north (left from the spur) for about 120 yards. If you get as far as the gravel pile, you’ve gone about 60 feet too far.

The trail was named by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), which contributed $1,500 toward its construction. In Tlingít, Haa Latseen means strength of mind, body, and spirit. Work started on the trail on May 1, and there are regular work parties from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons this summer.

This is part of a series of single-track mountain bike trail loops the Sitka Cycling Club started building in 2020. Last summer the club built four loops, plus another loop was built by a group sponsored by the Sitka Conservation Society Community Conservation Corps. The goal is to build three more trails this summer, while also moving forward on a pump track project.

Speaking of the proposed pump track, the City and Borough of Sitka Parks and Recreation Committee will meet at noon on Tuesday, June 8, in Harrigan Centennial Hall, 330 Harbor Drive. Agenda items include: Sitka Cycling Club Pump Track; Upper Moller Field Use; Lower Moller Field; Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan. The meeting is open to the public.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and state health mandates encouraging residents to practice social distancing, and limit group gatherings, individuals that would like to participate by teleconference can contact jessica.earnshaw@cityofsitka.org or call 747-1826 by 10:00 a.m. the day of the meeting to obtain information to join the meeting.

These trails don’t build themselves. While we use (and so much appreciate) our volunteer labor, we still need to purchase gravel, shovels, wheelbarrows and other supplies. That’s where you come in, please donate to our efforts today. 

We are applying for a grant to help finance more trails, and the grant requires matching funding. We need people to pitch in so that we can match dollar for dollar. Please send a few bucks (or a few hundred) to the Sitka Cycling Club through our PayPal site, which accepts PayPal as well as credit/debit cards. You also can mail checks to Sitka Cycling Club, c/o Charles Bingham, treasurer, 405 Marine Street, Apt. No. 6, Sitka, Alaska 99835.

We also are looking for people to volunteer on our trail-building teams, with work parties from 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday and at a time TBA on the first Saturday of the month. We now have an online volunteer registration page, where people can sign up for specific work parties so we can make sure we stay Covid-safe on the trails.

We appreciate everybody’s help on this project. Thank you for your assistance. For more details on how to volunteer, contact single-track project leader Amy Volz at amy.volz@outlook.com.

A slideshow of trail-construction photos from May is linked below. These photos, including the one at the top of this post, were taken by Lione Clare.

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KK Prussian, left, and Laurent Deviche work on the Middle Machete Loop during a recent Sitka Cycling Club work party. The loop is nearly finished and when completed will be the fourth loop built this summer. The Sitka Cycling Club finished the loop in early October 2020.

In late November 2020, the Sitka Cycling Club initiated a survey to begin a master plan for mountain biking trails in Sitka. Our ultimate goal is to provide more mountain biking opportunities to the Sitka community.

With more than 70 responses, the club received a community-wide picture of respondents’ desires for trail length, difficulty and location as well as long-form comments to the four trails built in 2020. If you took the survey, we are thankful for your involvement in the project, and we are so happy to have a chance to develop this fantastic sport here in Sitka.

For context, half of respondents classify themselves as intermediate level bikers, and are most likely to bike between 20-60 minutes an outing. As far as near-term projects that entail a low budget and volunteer labor, the most requested advancement was adding to the current network of single-track in and near the Sitka Cross Trail in town. Development of No Name Mountain also received strong support.

In the long term for projects that require more fundraising and partnership with other entities, expansion of the Indian River Trail to bikes received the most interest by a fair margin. (It’s important to note that if any work were to happen here, we would ensure that trail expansion is permitted in the area and that there is consideration put toward those who walk the trail.) The Green Lake area received the second most interest.

Regarding difficulty, preference was split between easy and more difficult, with the latter carrying more interest. Additionally, close to three-fourths of respondents showed interest in both a skills park and a pump track individually. However, when asked to rank them, more interest was shown in a skills park.

In the longer answer sections, we saw patterns in responses requesting more opportunities for flow, jumps, smaller gravel on the track, and longer trails. Another interesting point that was mentioned multiple times was interest in a Harbor Mountain downhill trail. While only 36 percent of respondents flagged it as a near-term preference, the written responses regard it as an ideal opportunity for the jumps, flow, and length that many riders want to see developed.

As for next steps, based on this information, we plan to start developing a comprehensive plan schedule to prioritize, budget and plan for work parties. We will brainstorm ways to collaborate with other Sitka organizations throughout the project.

Thanks go out to Amadea Wilhite and Reese Jacobs, both students at Outer Coast, for leading the survey effort. The club hopes to enlist more Outer Coast students in the coming months to continue the master planning process.

As well, our partners in trail building during 2020 were crucial — Raven’s Way, Youth Advocates of Sitka, Joel Hanson of Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Rotary Club of Sitka, Troy’s Excavation, Sitka Trail Works, Sitka Conservation Society, Outer Coast, City and Borough of Sitka, and our donors.

We began our efforts to build single-track mountain bike trail loops last spring, and have completed four loops to date — 907, Ewok, Little Machete, and Middle Machete. When added to the new Xóots Dei trail recently constructed by Sitka Conservation Society’s Community Conservation Corps, we now have about a half-mile of dedicated single-track mountain bike trail close to town.

Thanks to all who hauled gravel, stomped on trail, cut logs, and sent moral support messages along the way; many hands make light work. We are gratified to see so many Sitkans responding to the survey, indicating their interest in volunteering to help build trail or donate money to help fund the work. We will post progress updates on our website, https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com, and on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaCycling.

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