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[ft-l] Changes in FTA Trail Inventory process

I'm happy to announce to the list that the FTA Executive Committee has
approved major changes in the Trail Inventory process for the next two

As I have worked with the system and talked with many hikers and Kent and
Howard up in Tallahassee and tried to answer phone calls and letters sent to
the FTA office and worked with Joan Hobson and the Long Distance Hikers
Committee and our maps, it has become apparent to me that we really need a
process to know exactly where the trail is and what hiker and maintenance
features exist along the trail. And that that info needs to be collected in
a consistent and timely manner.  That was the plan I put together and
submitted to the Executive Committee last weekend.

So, starting next month, the Trail Inventory process will be streamlined.
We will be walking the trail with a Trimle GPS unit and recording the
center-line of the trail.  We will also be recording point data for major
trail crossings, water sources, campsites, and trailheads within the GPS
data dictionary.  Along with the GPS, we will also be running a rolatape for
accurate measurements between points and recording data on signage,
campsites, water sources, road crossings, etc on fill-in-the-blank forms.  I
will shortly be spending two weeks a month actually out on the trail
collecting this info.  With one other person to help (hopefully a local who
knows the trail section well) we can move along at about 1.5 miles per
hour - the speed of a slow day hike.  The plan is to have the entire
thru-trail GPS'ed and inventoried by the end of 2002.  With volunteer
support, this goal is very reachable.  After the thru-trail is established,
we can start on the side and loop trails, too.

This will be of tremendous benefit to the FTA maps (which are of varying
accuracy) and also to the guys at the FNST office.  Accurate current route
location is needed to attach to the FNST agreements and to determine exactly
how to fill the gaps remaining in the trail.  It will also put us squarely
in line for federal GPS/GIS funding that hopefully will be secured from
Congress for the entire National Trails System in 2001.  With the
descriptive info collected we should also be able to publish an FT Data Book
quite easily, which will benefit day, weekend, section and thru-hikers.

Anyone who would like to help out by accompanying me on these Trail
Inventory day hikes in your area, please contact me privately.

Deb Blick
Tail Inventory Coordinator