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Trails don’t groom themselves

A demonstration Aug. 7 on the Kissing Bridge Trail in Elmira taught volunteers how to use a trail groomer called the Reist TrailPro. The device will be used by G2G Rail Trail volunteers throughout the month of August. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

An Elmira company’s work is helping with maintenance of the Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail (G2G), with a piece of new equipment unveiled this week.

Hosted by the G2G Rail Trail group, the August 7 demonstration at the Kissing Bridge Trailway rolled out the Reist Industries TrailPro, a new trail groomer.

Tuesday’s event was a chance for people to check out the new equipment, particularly with an eye towards volunteering to help out with trail maintenance.

“The device grooms the trails,” explained Brian Reist of Reist Industries. “What it’s doing is cutting the edges down; it’s made for overgrown trails, so when you get grass that’s encroaching over the trail and the gravel and coming up through the gravel. It’ll cut that grass off and basically reclaim it. So what it’s doing, the discs on the outside cut directly into the centre along with some angled cutting blades up front. And then it gets processed or pulverized within the machine, separating the grass and the roots that collect in these root balls that are cut off.

“And then grass gets flung over the top. And gravel gets reclaimed and laid back down and packed on a nice flatbed with the machine.”

“So three trail groups, the BridgeKeepers here in West Montrose, the Guelph Hiking Club, and another group up Milverton way, have combined funds to rent this equipment for a week,” added Hans Pottkamper, a volunteer who attended the demonstration. “Reist is arranging for the tractor and the trail groomer. And then volunteers like myself will actually run it. The idea is to make the trail more comfortable for hikers and cyclists.”

“Safety is, of course, another factor to consider when operating this machine. Knowing your general ag-safety/tractor rules is an excellent first step to avoid any potential harmful incidents,” he explained.

“It’s also wise to use your safety goggles because there is a rotor that is flinging material in the machine,” added Reist. “There are potential stones and stuff getting spit out or could be, so not extremely dangerous, but general farm safety rules apply to any tractor.”

Following the demonstration, trail maintenance took place in the afternoon on the Kissing Bridge Trail’s Middlebrook section and proceeded to work its way to the West Montrose and Guelph sections.

Today, the equipment will be transported to Linwood where the work will continue to make its way day-by-day through the Perth Harvest Pathway sections.

This machine is replacing the group’s previous trail groomer, which did not perform up to its standards.

“We’ve used one of those before,” explained Grace Vanden Heuvel, executive coordinator of G2G Rail Trail. “So a month ago we used a device similar to that. Because they were trying to get ready for the spring trail event in June. And it just didn’t work as well as we were hoping it to, and the tractor was old, and it didn’t cover as many kilometres as we would have liked to.”

The equipment is put to use by a cadre of volunteers.

“Most of the crew that’s going to be doing the work are people that we already have as volunteers. However, we’re always looking for more volunteers to join,” she noted.

Positions they are seeking to fill include tractor drivers, a sweep crew, as well as advertising and promotion. They are also looking for donations and extra fuel.

More details are available online at G2G Rail Trail or by sending an email to info@g2grailtrail.com.

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