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trail gnome
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705 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've had a few cases recently of someone pulling apart rock armouring work.

The trails this is happening on are designated mountain bike trails. We have an agreement with the landowner (city) to maintain these trails, and the landowner supports what we do. The trails are open to hikers & dog walkers and for the most part, they are very supportive of the trail work we do and we mostly get along just fine. There is the odd individual that doesn't get along with bikers occasionally, but it's very rare.

We have no idea who is vandalizing the trail work. It could be a non-bike trail user that is or isn't aware of the agreement we have with the city and is resentful of bikers, or the trail work we are doing, for whatever reason, or it could be a biker that doesn't like the recent work that has being done or doesn't like the club that maintains the trails, again for whatever reason. We really don't know who it is or what their motivations are.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Helpful, non-violent suggestions please. I'm sure we all like to daydream about what we would do if we caught someone mucking around with our trail work, but that's not where I want to go with this thread.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
 

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keeptrollintrollintrollin
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296 Posts
Get a game camera (trail camera). The ones that take pictures when movement is detected. Get a picture of the person doing the damage and post it all over the trailheads. That person will likely not come back.

Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk
 

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Delirious Tuck
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2,471 Posts
for game cam, cover the flash, and all you can really do is post the picture of the person at the trail head and let them know you know who they are, or confront them in person. Doubt you'd want to liase with law enforcement unless your LM thinks its serious enough.

This is a somewhat typical issue for us, I've found bigger rocks work well. Like 3 pry bars to move or 4 people on an austin to move, dig the rock into the ground a bit (i.e. 12 in rock, bury 8'' of it). This has worked astoundingly well.

Signs are good too to let people know its official, sometimes folks think they're helping when they have no clue what's going on... could be your next trail crew leader in development but don't know better yet, so tread lightly.
 

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trail gnome
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705 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Game camera -- clever. I hadn't thought of that. It might be a good investment.

Kids -- might be a possibility. The trail borders on a subdivision.

Big rocks -- I'm a fan of. The one section where I did resort to smaller rock is the one they took apart.

Signage -- we do have a sign at the official trail head, and more signage on the way.

Thanks for the tips so far.
 

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middle ring single track
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4,687 Posts
Be advised...

that if the "vandals" that are tearing up your trail work are doing it maliciously they won't think twice about vandalizing/stealing the trail camera(s) likewise. You'll looking at a $100~200 loss if this happens.

You'll need a "Fort Knox" style enclosure to protect it. Sure, trail cams are designed to be discreet but to get a good field of view they're likely to be exposed. Some of the IR cams touted to be "invisible" at night still emit a visible glow.

I found out the hard way; having had one stolen. (I was using mine to try to photograph mountain lions here in central California) After several thousand pictures (and videos) of deer or lesser critters I finally did get a couple of kitty pictures. Along the way I did get some "people" pictures; like these trespassing deer hunters:
Soldier Military person Military uniform Military camouflage Marines


These fellows were not the ones who took the camera; they did have permission to hunt (bow) a couple of parcels over---the deer they shot wound up in an open space area within city limits. They were sneaking across my property getting the carcass back to their truck---I probably would have been doing the same.

Culprits who stole my camera? Probably tweakers that use the open space to do their "thing".

Besides doing the Fort Knox thing, you could install several dummy cameras---they may serve as enough of a deterrent to stop the activities. I've also tried wireless cameras where the receiver is totally secure (I'd just lose the camera and probably get an image of who's screwing with it) but battery life is very problematic. (And solar panels draw too much attention to the installation)

Here's one of the kitty pix:
Nature Natural environment Organism Atmosphere Adaptation
 

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saddlemeat
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3,873 Posts
A good thing to do is start keeping track of how much it costs to repair the damages. That way when you find out who is doing the damage you can confront them with the cost of their actions. Usually makes them stop when they realize they are spending their own money. We have always managed to observe the perpetrators eventually, they get lazy.
 

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humber river advocate
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6,395 Posts
i deal with stuff like this all the time from the atv crowd. the best thing to do is build it big and heavy and post a sign. after awhile they get tired of pulling it apart and move on.

i've also built features strong and easy to knock over. once it is knocked over the vandals feel they have accomplished what they wanted to do and move on. then it is easy to set up again.

We've had a few cases recently of someone pulling apart rock armouring work.

The trails this is happening on are designated mountain bike trails. We have an agreement with the landowner (city) to maintain these trails, and the landowner supports what we do. The trails are open to hikers & dog walkers and for the most part, they are very supportive of the trail work we do and we mostly get along just fine. There is the odd individual that doesn't get along with bikers occasionally, but it's very rare.

We have no idea who is vandalizing the trail work. It could be a non-bike trail user that is or isn't aware of the agreement we have with the city and is resentful of bikers, or the trail work we are doing, for whatever reason, or it could be a biker that doesn't like the recent work that has being done or doesn't like the club that maintains the trails, again for whatever reason. We really don't know who it is or what their motivations are.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Helpful, non-violent suggestions please. I'm sure we all like to daydream about what we would do if we caught someone mucking around with our trail work, but that's not where I want to go with this thread.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
 

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trail gnome
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705 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The game camera solution is appealing; especially because we've run into problems with ATV'ers and dirt bikes before (both prohibited on these trails) , and a game camera might help in those situations. Also, those pictures above have awoken the voyeur in me. ;) .

If we did go that route, we'd have to hide the camera well or lock it down big time.

The vandalism has been limited to tearing apart rock armour work, so while it's not costing us dollars, it's costing us volunteer hours to repair, which I value more.

I will be going big and heavy with any future rockwork from now on. Aside from deterring vandalism, it's just the right way to build.

Thanks for all the suggestion so far.
 

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When we 're doing trail changes, armoring, etc, we've been posting a sign in the immediate area. (QC Friends of Off Road Cycling- FORC)

We make the sign by using one of those real estate for sale signs that you stick one side of the wire ends into the ground and the sign on the up side wires. Print out what you want the sign to be, and use clear box tape to attach it to the real estate sign- cover it over completely so it will last a few weeks. (You can even cut the real estate sign down so it's not sticking out on the sides.

We have a large type, red lettering "WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO THE TRAILS?" heading, and then we explain the problem, explain that the club AND THE CITY has decided to take this action, and ask for their patience while it is being dialed in. We include the club logo, the city parks logo and the club website they can go to to find out how to help us with working. Since they want to gripe and not help, we rarely hear from them.

The last line of the sign is usually an IMBA quote about good trail use philosophy relevant to the work we're doing such as "Trails are closed to ALL users when they are wet or muddy." and then "Help keep your trails fun!"

It lets them know the work is being done for a reason by someone who is working with the land owner and has put some thought into it. (They might be tearing it out because they think YOUR work is being done by a bunch of kids, HA!)

We used to have to redo everything again and again because no one knew we were doing it for a reason and with the authority of the City. When this sign is posted, we get great results. Good Luck!!
 

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since 4/10/2009
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35,287 Posts
regarding trail cam use - you need to be serious about security. the security enclosures help out, but they primarily keep the camera from being smashed. they often come with screws to secure them to a tree or post, but those can be worked out. I have had good luck putting the camera out in the open but securing it to a tree with a chain or cable lock. If you have to hump it in a long way, a cable might be fine since people will be unlikely to hump bolt cutters all the way out there, but if it's close to a development like you mention, a hefty chain might be a wiser choice. I have pretty extensive experience with these. I own a couple of my own, and I also used 62 of them for my thesis research. 8 were stolen over the course of my research, and each camera had spent about 5 months in the field. That's roughly equivalent to a single camera being out in the field for 310 months. Not a bad rate, but it could have been better. A technician who was placing the cameras one week did not secure all of the cameras well enough.

Cameras can also be hidden from view in clever ways. Some wildlife get curious about a camera and investigate it when they see or hear it, so if the research aims for a specific shot, that action can mess it up. I have read papers that described researchers hiding cameras in rock piles, or hollowing out a tree stump to fit a camera, or other such sneaky ways to obscure the camera.

One of my personal cameras has an IR flash (a Moultrie) and it is not visible when it goes off. I can't speak to other cameras, but the IR flash is your best bet for dusk/dawn stuff (nighttime likely won't be an issue regarding trail vandalization. if you turn the flash off entirely, your photos will get blurred out and you won't be able to remotely come close to identifying the person/people in the photo. you'd probably also have the best luck with a camera that has a burst mode - where it'll shoot multiple photos in quick succession upon a detection. there's a lag between the sensor going off and the camera triggering that differs for each camera. some are faster than others - some have detectors with a range much wider than the camera lens. This can result in blank photos because the subject has either left the frame or has not even entered it yet. a burst mode would give you the best chances of getting something upon a sensor detection. short lag is important, too. Cuddeback Experts seem to have the shortest lag, but they're spendy.

I have also noticed that it's a good idea to pair cameras (or more if feasible) because due to sensor variation and differences in aim as well as environmental conditions (orientation of the camera relative to the sun at different times of day, in particular), one camera might get a detection when the other camera will not.
 

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Just roll it......
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We have our game cameras covered in camo tape and I try to conceal it with branches, etc. You can turn the flash off on most of them too.

We've had issues recently on one of our trail networks and I put up a camera. Oooh, that reminds me, I need to go and pull it down to see what we've got so far!

Cheers,
EB
 

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We've had issues with people undoing our trail work recently as well. We just received our game cameras and they will be put up within the next week.
As well, we have been advised to install signs at the entrance to the reserve stating that game cameras are being used to document trail usage, this way you don't get sued for taking pictures of people unknowingly.
 

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getting the majority of users on you side

One key is to communicate with and educate the average trail user. Most users are happy with the trails and quietly use them. Those who do rogue work are in the minority.

But how does the regular trail user know who are the legit trail workers? On most mtb trails its hard to do work without trail users seeing you.

If the average trail user doesn't know who the official trail builders are, then they likely ride right by those doing rogue work.

I often plan work session when the trail is at its busiest. This gives trail users the chance to meet us and learn about who does the trail work, and how to communicate with us. Wearing logo'd t-shirts help, putting up trail work ahead signs, etc...

While those doing trail work aren't likely to be deterred by posts on forums or signs in the parking lot, they are likely to be deterred if riders stop and ask them who they are and what they are doing.

Paul
 

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One thing we've done in the past is taking a rogue builder's shoddy work, and either reinforcing, or completely redoing it. If possible, of course. The idea being that your trail gets a usable feature, which was apparently desired by some, and hopefully, the rogue builder sees that this is not what they originally built, but was what they intended. For example, taking a janky rock pile that shifts under weight, and building it back up properly to be a stable feature, or a loose log crossing and anchoring and cutting it properly. This won't work in every instance, but hopefully it gives the rogue builders an idea of how things should be done, and that you're willing to work with them.
 

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trail gnome
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Although we've had cases of rogue work in the past, the situation that triggered this thread was someone taking apart work that had been previously done as part of an official trail day, not rogue work.

We do communicate to other trail users about what we are doing -- there is a sign at the official trail head that explains the arrangement, we have "trail work in progress" signs for official trail days, many of the trail maintainers wear the club logo'd shirt on projects, we stop and talk to people passing through to explain to them what it is we are doing, and there are regular postings on the club forum and other local forums for upcoming trail days --- but there is the odd rare person that didn't "get the memo". Regardless, we could always do a better job of communicating; there is always room to improve in that department for sure. The additional signage going in this fall should help.
 

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Delirious Tuck
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2,471 Posts
Ray, I'm actually dealing with the same problem right now but at the next step. We have found out through the grapevine who is responsible for destroying our work and now the question is how to deal with them. They knew what they were doing when they undid 10 people's hard back breaking (LM approved) labor, but they didn't like what was done so they decided to remove it (even though the parks greater community had said A) they wanted work B) they loved the work).

We'll go back in and re-do what was undone - I'll use bigger rocks and more dirt on the berm this time. However, we'd like to eliminate this kind of thing ever occurring again from the perpetrator... its an interesting discussion and right now the consensus is that they won't respond to a logical discussion/reason so where do we go next?

Guess we can do a couple things either as a community or through the land manager/legal option but we'll have to think it through before we take any action because there can be no mis-communication that we're (the building and "greater" riding community) dead serious about protecting our investments of time and labor.

Sucks to be in the situation, but some people just don't get that behaving like a toddler because you don't like something isn't acceptable behavior. Any ideas on how to respond?
 

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Ah Hell, Tuck, I can't give good advice on this- I'm the guy who alienates his own club because I take care of problems with little regard for "feelings" and "how it will look to other people" and I ain't holding hands and singing coom buy hell friggin yeah to beg some jerk to act like he's not a jerk. So instead I'll give you bad advice.

I'm a believer that Mountain Bikers have been taken advantage of and treated like slave labor- because of our love and willingness to work hard- long enough. You may have to deal with this on their terms... If they won't respond to intelligent logic and reason, then they have put you in the position that the only way you can deal with them is illogically and without reason. They have acted outside of accepted practice. A response may have to be outside of accepted practice. Because frankly, They are the aggressors, they have set the tone. You are responding to the situation based on their level of understanding- vandalism is acceptable. Realistically many in your club will hate you for protecting your trails more than them for destroying it. Be ready for it emotionally, it hurts to have your friends stick up for vandalism and make you out to be the bad one. (they'll SAY thier not sticking up for vandalism and then they'll say... "BUT"!) Even if the problem NEVER happens again because of your actions, you will not get credit for it. You will be austricized, but you'll have great trails.

Taking them to court... do you have them on camera? Because if you don't, they deny all knowlegde and the States Attorney has 1,000 other things to do besides deal with a bunch of crybaby's who had a berm pushed over- and this IS how the States Attorney will look a it unless he or she is a biker. They prosecute rapes, murders and robberies. This stuff doesn't go high on the to do list.

If your land manager is supportive make sure the steward AND the club board roundly dissapproves of any action taken that may be objectionable. You got a couple of doods with clean records who don't care about how it looks? Destroy something they've worked hard for. Don't admit it, don't get caught, but make sure they know why it happened. And make sure through your comments and tone every time they are seen on the trails that they don't enjoy the sport anymore.

The reason there are jerks in every group is because groups want to grow bigger and so they put up with jerks to get the numbers. I say to hell with that philosophy, too. These doods should either apologize and make up for it, or take up golf. Being the "bigger person" and turning a blind eye ruins the sport for everyone. You can sleep with a gun, but when you gonna wake up and fight. Hell- pick your own "had enough" theme and use it. (Eye of the Tiger?)

And never forget the trailbuilders crede- "If you build it, They will Com...plain."

And now for a plethora of good natured doods telling you to talk reasonably with people who are unreasonable. On three- One... Two.....
 
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