In anticipation of receiving the stamp of approval on our CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) document, and the green light to begin trail construction, Drew and I have been out refining the trail alignment on several segments of the Flow Trail. We are preparing for CAL FIRE Ben Lomond Conservation Camp crews to come out to clear the trail corridor to allow for machine construction. As much of the trail passes through a timber harvest area, this is no small task. Much of the trail alignment is buried in a tangle of slash, all the leftover materials from logging, which must be cleared before the fine flagging of the trail alignment can occur.
We have been walking the trail corridor, which has been roughly flagged over the last year, and have been establishing a more finalized alignment. This is sort of a midpoint in the flagging process. The corridor flagging established a very rough general idea of where the trail will be. It takes into account the average grades of the trail alignment and specific spots where the trail will go. Kind of like the dots on a connect-the-dots drawing for kids (or adults, no judgment here). Now we are flagging out a 10-15 foot wide corridor that the trail will ultimately fall within. We are connecting the dots on our picture. Oh look! It’s a unicorn! At this stage it’s still a rough, somewhat angular unicorn, but it’s clearly a unicorn. The goal here is to have a well defined area for the CAL FIRE crews to clear leaving us a nice debris free corridor where we will define the exact trail route with a final flagging pass. This final flagging, known as fine flagging, will be where our unicorn drawing really comes to life, gone are the sharp corners and straight lines, this unicorn has arcing curves, well defined muscles, and even a friggin spiral on its horn.
The CAL FIRE crews are accustomed to building fire line to contain wildfires. This involves laying waste to everything in their path. As we are building a trail that we are trying to integrate into the landscape we want to take a bit less aggressive of an approach. Thus the reasoning for flagging out the exact extent of our alignment. We are giving them a flag line on both the uphill and downhill edges to work between. While they will be removing most of the slash, we want them to leave some of the large logs, stumps, and trees within the alignment corridor to give our trail anchor points, and some character. We have taken the time to mark where to cut logs that must be removed, which logs can be left in place, and which trees to leave standing.
After the CAL FIRE crews have come through and cleared the corridor we will be ready for fine flagging and then machine construction. The ball is rolling and quickly gaining momentum. Until next time folks.