New Machine Club Purchases Ditch Witch SK600
GORC Gravity Announced
Over the course of several years, beginning around 2013, we've debated on and off at the Board level (Bored in club terminology) if the club should purchase and own a machine to facilitate trail building. Around 2015 a large donor whom wished to remain anonymous funded $15,000 over the span of 3 years with the stipulation for the funds to be used to grow the region's trail network. This was a big chunk of the mechanized pie but we still needed to make up the difference.
The club has been accumulating funds through donations and memberships steadily saving what it could from our ongoing expense budget. Early this year after Bored approval GORC Bored members researched and shopped the market, ultimately deciding to purchase a new Ditch Witch SK600 from Ditch Witch Sales - Sullivan. The purchase was a long time coming but we had to ensure we could still maintain a safe cash flow ratio for other projects and goals coming down the road. The club already owns a 6-way blade purchased new many years ago. The club also owns a toothed bucket that came with the machine and it will be useful for moving objects and material at build sites.
Then the stars came into alignment with another huge announcement from the club.
After years of discussing bringing flow features and brand new flow trails to our area, there is great movement from within our ranks. Previous efforts never gained traction because GORC lacked two very important ingredients from the flow trail recipe:
1. A dedicated and competent volunteer pool that could see projects from inception to completion and were willing to get their hands dirty on arguably the most important side of things, administrative duties.
2. Opportunities for brand new trail development at parks and venues willing to discuss modern trail design and concepts. This includes requiring the discussion about trail use designations, signage and maintenance concerns.
Until recently, GORC was quickly approaching the end of park projects unless new land became available. Within the past 18 months, several new public land areas are being discussed with land managers.
So this leads us to our other big announcement that has already been in the works and is on the ground running: GORC Gravity - A Committee/Panel (we are still finalizing the wording) working within the GORC framework and are all GORC members and volunteers.
Over the course of the past 2 months GORC has been evolving with a new upwelling of internal support by a dedicated group of volunteers that are working on progressive trail proposals. Many of these proposals are in their earliest stages and await review and further discussions with our area land managers. While we all want progress to happen as fast as possible, it is quite exciting to see our land managers willing to discuss and hopefully act on approving our modern trail proposals. Of course, this doesn’t mean every new trail developed will always be a dedicated flow trail but it will allow our region to become a well-rounded trail destination. The club has always been about including all types of riding styles that other users can enjoy as well. With GORC Gravity, this dedicated panel of volunteers will focus solely on progressive trail features and new flow projects and that is what we have desired for many years - top-notch volunteers staying the course through the administrative process. They have recently been introduced to the St. Charles county parks land manager and received great enthusiasm and are ready to get boots in the woods scouting potential trail concepts.
But let’s come full circle and get back to the mechanized part.
What will this new machine mean for the club? Just like our commercial tiller we purchased last year to help build out Bluff View (aka Rock Hollow aka Zombie), we are currently rolling out our safety protocols to land managers. With their permission and oversight we will use the SK600, where feasible, to rough in the trail corridor using only our small handful of trained operators.
Our Group Builds will focus on hand-building the rocky, technical areas and any other sections that are too steep for the machine to safely operate. The Group Builds will also finalize the trail rough-in making it appear to be hand built. Removing the duff (loose dirt overburden) and fine-tuning the tread and backslope will all require our hard-working volunteer base. Don’t worry, our Trail Building days are definitely not going away! Did you know parts of Beulah and Overlook Connector were machine built? If not, that's the beauty of hand finishing the tread. The trail ends up appearing no wider than traditional hand-built trail.
While you won’t see the machine in action at our Group Builds, rest assured this Ditch Witch SK600 with 6-way blade will help speed up the trail building process and that means more trails for all user groups to enjoy.