The Central Oregon Nordic Club will be erecting new, longer-lasting diamond trail markers on trees, and volunteers will have more tools to maintain those trails, thanks to a $4,200 grant from the Deschutes Trail Coalition.
The Deschutes Trails Coalition was formed in 2017 to push for sustainable trails in the area. This includes not only work on trails and but encouraging stewardship by the public. The organization announced grant awards totaling $60,000 this month for trail-related projects within the Deschutes National Forest.
The Nordic Club has been notified that the club is receiving one of the grants, reports CONC Vice President Susan Sullivan.
With the $4,200 award, CONC is obtaining some 300 new diamond trail markers from Bend-based CLS Fabrication, Susan explains. These will be installed on both ski and snowshoe trails.
“They’re more expensive [than the old diamonds], but we decided rather than go cheap and put something up that doesn’t last so long, we’d be better off putting up more money up front and put in a diamond that would last longer,” Susan says.
The new diamonds are one unit (rather than assembled) and are made of all aluminum.
In the past, CONC used plastic diamonds and put a trail-marking patch in the middle. Holes were then drilled in the diamonds to so they could be attached to a piece of aluminum. Holes were also drilled in the
aluminum, through which nails cold be pounded, in order to attach the markers to trees. However, these markers often “failed” in the woods, not standing up to wind and other harsh weather conditions.
“That was a hugely time-intensive process,” Susan reports. “With this, we are going to get a diamond that is all ready – the diamond and bracket are a single assembly – and all we have to do is put the patches on them. They already have holes drilled into them for the nails. It’s less labor for us up front.
“The downside is they are about $4.50 apiece. But they should last for about 20 years out in the field.”
Since they’re made of aluminum, the new diamonds won’t rust. Further, the paint is transparent so they will still reflect light even if the marking patches fall off, allowing skiers and snowshoers to find their way by light at night. The diamonds also have a new design so they will not wobble in wind, making them less likely to fall, Susan explains.
(The photo above left is of the old diamonds. The photo on the right is of the new ones.)
Volunteers installed the first of the new diamonds this month on Vista Butte. Many will be used for the next round of work planned for trails out of Dutchman Flat Sno-Park.
CONC also is in the process of updating its arsenal of tools to “to better support teams in the field” doing volunteer work on trails, Susan explains.
The list includes new loppers, a battery-powered pole saw to trim branches high up a tree, quality hand saws and hard hats. The arsenal will also include a telescoping ladder that will be easier to haul in the woods over snow.
“In the winter, if you want to go in to do any kind of maintenance, hauling a ladder is kind of a pain in the neck,” Susan explains. “The telescoping ladder is not as light as the other ones, but at least it’s something you can fold up and pull on a sled or strap onto a backpack and haul it in.
“If you give people decent tools to work with, it makes the job a lot easier,” Susan says. “We’re hoping that will help out trail maintenance. We are grateful to the Deschutes Trail Coalition for making this grant opportunity available to us.”
(Photos by Jo Keen and Susan Sullivan)