Select Board approves mountain bikers to maintain Town Forest
Dartmouth Town Forest will receive maintenance from a group of mountain bikers who want to create and improve trails on the land, as decided in an April 10 select board meeting.
The first phase of the plan proposed by John R. Tomawski, president of the Southcoast chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, will include teams of volunteers cleaning up the trails in Dartmouth Town Forest and marking trees with eco-friendly paint.
Parking for the Dartmouth Town Forest trail is located off Deerfield Road and another section of trails is located off Cross Road. The west and east sections of trails are currently connected by a trail on private land.
Tomawski plans to create new trail connections that avoid the illegal use of private land. He expects this will require building a bridge over wetlands.
“Phase two of this project would be to bring a legal trail to connect the two sections,” said Tomawski. Referring to the west section of trail, which they plan to refurbish, he said, “essentially it got forgotten about, and the sign was overgrown, I had to clear it, you could barely read it anymore, it was kind of sad.”
Through the New England Mountain Bike Association Tomawski has already improved mountain biking routes in Freetown, where they were recently approved to build a 75-yard bridge in a Freetown forest.
Board member Heidi Silva Brooks pointed out that maintaining these trail has additional safety benefits.
“To have an opportunity to have trail markers with the names…I think it’s helpful only because if someone is injured they can communicate where they are, on which trail.”
The town will provide safety waivers for the volunteers doing the work. The current plan allows all the work to be done at no cost to the town.
“I think that this is incredibly exciting, the fact that you’re providing us with not only expertise, but the team to get it done,” said David Tatelbaum, Chairperson of the Select Board. “Call on us when the time’s right and we will sort out the right committees and whatever we can do to help with signage and all, so we want to help you out too.’’
The board voted unanimously to approve the trail maintenance. Tomawski plans to go through the appropriate channels to continue improving and creating trails in Town Forest.
“The mission is really just to spread awareness that there is a community in the area that is here to help people get over that initial section of not knowing what to do, not knowing which bike to use, or not knowing which trails to go to,” said Tomawski.