by Cody Olivas
Mail Staff Writer
Salida Mountain Trails has decided to cancel its annual membership drive fundraiser and party this year.
“We thought with the extreme circumstances and the state of local businesses, we didn’t feel right asking for money at this point in time,” Mike Smith, SMT president said. “We’ve been blessed with an amazing amount of business support in the past and we’re extremely grateful for all of the support we’ve had.”
Smith said they still hope to have some sort of gathering in the fall, if the situation allows, but they haven’t decided whether that will be a fundraiser or just a fun event.
People who still want to support SMT with a membership, however, can do so online at SalidaMountainTrails.org.
“No pressure,” Smith said.
Canceling the fundraiser, however, will certainly impact SMT.
“This is a huge hit for us, as we have built our fundraising efforts over the past several years and depend upon these funds for future projects to further enhance our systems as needed via our partnerships with the BLM, Forest Service, county and city land managers,” Smith said. “The impact will be felt next year and onward.”
The group’s monthly shin dig work days have also been canceled for the foreseeable future.
SMT’s trail steward program is helping it continue to maintain the local trails. Individuals rather than groups, however, are now doing the work so Smith said it might go a little slower than normal.
Smith said they’re in the process of putting up signs on the new Dream On trail in the Arkansas Hills.
Last year volunteers, who have always done all of the local trail maintenance, spent 1,330 hours maintaining trails locally.
This year, a new, 2-mile, grant-funded trail is being built that will connect the Rainbow and Double Rainbow trails. A hiking-only trail is also being built on the southern end of North Backbone.
As far as using the trails go, Smith said he feels like most people are following the letter and spirit of the current social distancing rules, which is important.
“We’ve heard about other parts of the country who have imposed stricter standards,” Smith said. “We want to preserve the privilege here.”
In a Facebook post, SMT reminded people to follow the 6-foot rule and find wide areas to pass; not to take risks that could end with a hospital visit; not to congregate at trailheads; not to ride or hike in large groups; and ride, hike and run close to home.
“One of the main things is to maintain social distancing at trail heads and parking lots and be thoughtful in encountering and passing folks,” Smith said.