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Trail Stewardship

The Western States Endurance Run Foundation (WSERF) continues to make a strong commitment regarding its role as a steward of the trail system that we use for our event and related training.  Our goal is to help preserve, and where possible improve the trail system, in a manner that respects landowner requirements, balances local, state, and federal agency priorities, embraces public use by all user groups, promotes safety during both recreational use and maintenance activities, respects historic conditions, and complies with applicable state and federal rules and regulations.

Although some maintenance activities are more routine and performed on an annual basis, harsh weather conditions, fire, erosion, and flooding cause trail conditions to vary year to year, portions of the trail may be washed out, or become impassable or unsafe and require repair or closure.  In addition portions of the trail system, having been built decades ago without the benefit of todays sustainable trail-building practices, are in need of modification to decrease erosion, minimize the need for future maintenance, and improve the user experience.  Therefore in addition to more routine maintenance activities trail stewardship includes implementation of major repairs, temporary re-routing, or more permanent modifications to the trail or event route.  Trail work may also result in changes to the appearance of the route.  Overall we strive to cause minimal disturbance to the trail system, while allowing for the highest quality recreational experience.

Many organizations use the trail and are dedicated to its care. The WSERF collaborates with diverse organizations on strategies and projects that we believe are in the best interest of the trail environment and the run. These include:

In late 2018 the WSERF and WSTF (organizer of the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride), in partnership with the USFS-TNF (Tahoe and Truckee Ranger Districts) and ASRA, created a new model to maintain and improve the trail(s) used by both events. Implementation began in early 2019 and was used to get the trail ready for the 2019 events.

Although the courses for the Western States Endurance Run and the Tevis Cup vary in certain areas, they share the same trail over the majority of their 100 mile reach.  Both organizations have a long history regarding use of the trail system, and have individually and in partnership built and maintained much of the trail that exists today.  Therefore it made sense to draw from the resources of both organizations to create a focused and efficient system for trail maintenance and improvement.

The new Volunteer Steward Program, modeled after the successful approaches used to maintain the Pacific Crest Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail, relies on relatively small well-trained and highly committed groups of volunteers to maintain and improve the trail system. These core groups of volunteers will, on an as needed basis, be complimented by additional volunteers who can signup for specific work days on the wstrail.org website.

To facilitate trail management, the Western States Trail system has been segregated into eight Trail Sections.  Each Trail Section has a designated Trail Section Lead. This new system of trail management is lead by John Catts (WSER finisher and equestrian), with support from Nicole Wertz (Tevis Trail Manager and Tevis Cup finisher).   With a defined management structure and designated Section Leads our goal is to work closely with the USFS and ASRA to identify trail maintenance needs, and work with the USFS and ASRA to both maintain the trails and plan and implement special projects.

The Trail Sections and Trail Section Leads are as follows:

  • Robie Equestrian Park to Watson Monument – James Mather
  • Watson Monument to Red Star Ridge Aid Station – Craig Thornley
  • Red Star Ridge Aid Station to Robinson Flat – Kynan Matz
  • Robinson Flat to Pacific Slab Mine – Mark Falcone
  • Pacific Slab Mine to Foresthill – Chaz Sheya
  • Foresthill to Rucky Chucky/ Poverty Bar – Tim & Austin Twietmeyer
  • Rucky Chucky to Browns Bar Trail at Quarry Road – Jay Marsh
  • Browns Bar Trail at Quarry Road to Finish Lines – Kassandra DiMaggio & Andy Mayo

All of our Section Leads have current chain saw and first aid (with CPR) certification, and we have a total of 13 active chainsaw and first aid trained core volunteers. We will offer additional classes as the need arises to keep our core volunteers current with their training, and to provide training for those who are not yet certified and willing to commit to the program.

Each year we will still hold the Robinson Flat Trail Work Campout and Celebration (June 19 & 20, 2020) to complete trail work in the High Country in advance of WSER and the Tevis Cup (signup at wstrail.org). And you are encouraged to join one of our Trail Section Teams by contacting a Section Lead or John Catts (trails@wser.org).

Because this is a shift in how the WSER and Tevis Cup trails have been maintained in the past (a handful of core individuals and a limited number of larger volunteer days), it will take some time to optimize our new Volunteer Steward Program. So please feel free to join a team, join us for special projects, provide constructive comments, or participate in our Robinson Flat Campout to learn how you can help.

Ultimately, the WSERF mission is only as effective as the strength of its supporters. We thank you for your continued volunteer and financial commitment.

Please visit our joint trail work site wstrail.org for more information and to signup for trail work opportunities.