Photo credit: Betsy Galloway

Note:  At this time the Sandia Ranger District does not use an adopt-a-trail model for trail maintenance on the District.  Rather, interested groups are encouraged to take part in scheduled monthly work days during the summer season (typically April-October).  Interested groups can contact the District for more information (505-281-3304).  Existing Adopt-A-Trail groups will continue, and you can get more information about them by using the contact information below.

The Adopt-A-Trail (AAT) program on the Sandia Ranger District of the USFS is one of many similar programs throughout the state and nation.  This program allows an interested individual, informal group, or formal organization to become an adopter and enter into a written agreement with the USFS to conduct periodic maintenance activities on an adopted trail to help sustain our National Forest trails system.

Covered activities include trash clean-up, brushing, and general trail maintenance work.  FOSM assists the USFS in implementing the program by collecting work reports from adopting groups and preparing quarterly reports for the USFS.

Should My Group Consider Adopting a Trail?

What are your Group’s interests?  A bicycle group would probably not be interested in working on a wilderness trail, as bikes are not allowed in wilderness.  Nor would a cross-country ski group be interested in working on a low elevation trail with little snowfall.

Consider the physical abilities of your group.  Some trail heads are remote and require a strenuous hike with tools before trail maintenance can begin.  There is almost no surface water in the Sandias for most of the year and there are no trail shelters.

What time is your group available for work on your trail?  Does your group have time in the summer? Winter? Year round?  The elevation of a trail determines when a trail can be worked.  Winter would limit any high elevation work, whereas summer in the low country could be unbearably hot.

How many workers can you expect on any given day?  There is a limit of ten persons per group in the designated wilderness areas of the Sandia District.  Choosing a long difficult trail for a small group would take the fun out of your volunteer time, whereas a large group would get bored on a short and easy trail.

What are the Steps to Adopt A Trail?

The Sandia District Trails and Wilderness Program Manager determines which trails are available for adoption and determines the maintenance work to be done.  This requires coordination with a USFS archaeologist to determine what historic and archaeological resources need to be protected.  Call 281-3304, extension 107, to discuss availability and arrange a meeting.

After agreement is reached to adopt a particular trail, the adopter then signs an agreement with the Volunteer Partnership and VIS Program Manager (281-3304, extension 128), who then sends the agreement forward for final approval by the District Ranger.   Click here to see a sample agreement.  In general, adopters are expected to conduct at least three maintenance outings per year.  While conducting maintenance under this agreement, volunteers are eligible for federal worker’s compensation coverage.

What Happens in the Field?

The adopter coordinates with the Trails and Wilderness Program Manager to schedule work days.  The USFS provides all the tools and hard hats necessary to complete routine maintenance.   The District staff will explain proper trail maintenance, which varies depending of the level of archaeological clearance of a given trail.  Volunteers must wear appropriate clothing for weather conditions and safety (hard hats, gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and sturdy boots year round).

Each work day begins with a safety discussion based on the current USFS Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for Trail Maintenance.  Each participant must sign a Sandia RD Volunteer Project Sign Up Sheet certifying attendance at the safety briefing, their citizenship, and their health.  Volunteers under the age of 18 must provide separate Parent/Guardian permission forms.   Use of chain saws (outside the designated wilderness area) and crosscut saws require separate USFS certifications, but bow saws and loppers can be used by capable volunteers.  (Photo above shows a crew from the Volunteers for the Outdoors working on Pino Trail.)

At the end of the work day the volunteer leader reports the safe return of the team and submits the completed forms to the Volunteer Partnership and VIS Program Manager and the FOSM AAT Coordinator.  Unresolved maintenance issues are reported to the Trails and Wilderness Program Manager.

For More Information and Forms

Or write:

Friends of the Sandia Mountains
Attn:  Adopt-A-Trail Coordinator
P.O. Box 1832
Tijeras, New Mexico 87059