Volunteering on the AZT During COVID-19 Restrictions
For many of us, the trail seems like the ideal place to be during this time of social distancing and self-isolation. As a volunteer, it may feel like the perfect time to get out and give back on the AZT – our busy schedules have been relieved and for many of us, the season is ideal for being outside. All of us at the ATA agree that the trail is a magical place to seek comfort and relief from the tensions caused by the pandemic. However, in the interest of protecting the well-being of our volunteers and the health of our communities, we offer the following recommendations:
For experienced volunteers and ATA Segment Stewards:
- This is a great time for trail monitoring and light trail maintenance. Checking the condition of segments of trail and performing brushing and minor treadwork is a terrific way to stay active and engaged out on the trail.
- Avoid working in groups of any size. While safety precautions typically keep us at that safe 6-foot distance from one another while using tools, we underestimate the social nature of most trail work done in groups. Cooperating on a difficult task such as moving a rock or digging a hole often brings us in closer proximity. Sharing tools is commonplace and a narrow trail corridor can make maintaining appropriate distance challenging. Avoid groups on the trail just as you would avoid gatherings indoors.
- Avoid contact in communities. Being self-sufficient means bringing the materials and supplies you will need with you to the trail. Please avoid contact with individuals within gateway communities.
- Wipe down tools when you’re done. Whether the tools belong to you or to the ATA, it is a good idea to clean the handle with an alcohol-based product before you put it away for the day. A spray bottle and clean rag work well, or disposable disinfecting wipes.
- Follow established safety protocols for trail work. Please be sure to wear your PPE and review safety guidance before you begin work. Especially when working alone, safety is more import now than ever before.
For New Volunteers and Those Interested in Getting Involved
The ATA has a Remote Trail Maintenance Task Force which can provide tools and protective gear to trail users who would like to help out with basic vegetation management while they enjoy a hike, run or ride along the AZT. If you’re interested in joining the program, you can find more information on our website here.
If you’re brand new to volunteering with the AZT and would like to be notified when we begin scheduling group volunteer activities once again, please visit our volunteer portal at volunteer.aztrail.org. Become a fan of passages near you and you will a message when we schedule something in your area.
And, as always, one of the best ways that you can give back is by supporting the Arizona Trail Association through membership or donations. Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, it is the financial support of trail enthusiasts like you which makes it possible for the ATA to continue our mission to protect, maintain, enhance, promote and sustain the Arizona Trail as a unique encounter with the land. Any gift is an investment in the future of the trail so that it will always be a refuge in times of crisis or joy.