WRWEO/The Bluff Trail is an entirely volunteer organization. In the past, our efforts were focussed on developing a Watershed Management Plan, developing a plan for and then building The Bluff Trail, and seeking protection for the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area.
The Bluff Trail was built with the express purpose of facilitating access to a wilderness area so that there would be wider support for protection. Protection of the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area was finally achieved in October of 2011.
In the process and subsequently, The Bluff Trail has become well known and increasingly used, about which we are very happy, but at the same time, it has meant that we have to focus most our efforts on maintenance of The Bluff Trail. This involves monitoring and reporting on the state of The Trail (see Online Trail Reporting Form and Volunteer Info Handout ), cleaning up inappropriate fire pits and residues from hikers, holding trail-building workshops, maintaining the boardwalks, maintaining signage, participating in HRTA meetings once monthly, writing up and submitting applications for funding for capital works and maintenance (annual cutting of half of the trails, maintenance of the parking lot), picking up garbage from the parking lot and trailhead, checking the Sign-in book at the Pot Lake Loop junction, and more. Most of this work is carried out by members of the board of WRWEO, with additional volunteers sought for particular events and activities.
We are involved in collaboration with the St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association as well as activities related to stewardship of the Five Bridge lakes Wilderness Area, and organizing youth & family oriented events. To some extent, our ability to carry out these latter activities has been compromised by our need to give priority to maintenance of The Bluff Trail because we have legal obligations in that regard – if we can’t maintain it properly, it would have to be closed.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying we could use some help! If you would like to help in some way, for a day or days, indoors or out, please drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
To give you a very cursory overview I have listed below a few of the key areas where volunteer support is needed:
Cleaning the parking lot – This is an on-going task that can easily be done on a weekly basis, but is particularly necessary in the spring. It can be done on a small, individual scale by one person spending 10 minutes or an hour collecting litter or if someone wanted a more ambitious project, they might take the lead to organize something on a grand scale. For example, a volunteer might set a time and date and invite other WRWEO members, volunteers, and the public using tools like “Meetup Halifax” to gather a group to clean, not just the parking-lot surface, but also the surrounding woods where much of the litter from the winter months has gathered. There a few large and heavy items that could be removed by truck and WRWEO could help by supplying materials such as garbage and recycling bags and work gloves.
Trail clean-up – Over the past few years (especially since 2011) we have observed increasing evidence of harmful human impacts on the trail including litter, food waste (such as fruit peals and nut shells), toilet paper, dog waste, and unauthorized campfires. WRWEO hopes to better inform the public that the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail is located within a Wilderness Protected Area which is subject to the Wilderness Areas Protection Act and the Order on Camping and Lighting of Fires in Designated Wilderness Areas Issued by the Minister of Environment and Labour and that the trail is user-maintained. We are hoping that more users will take an active role in collecting and packing out all of the litter, food scraps, toilet paper and dog waste. We also hope that users will take time to destroy any evidence of campfire rings and remediate areas where people have had campfires. There are no authorized sites for campfires anywhere along the Bluff Trail and it would be very helpful to have trail users dismantle and remediate the unauthorized campfire sites as quickly as possible so that other users do not see them and assume they are permitted. The Bluff Trail also needs volunteers who are willing to spend time talking to others on the trail in order to spread the word about these things and encourage all users to assist in improving stewardship practices on the trail. We started The Bluff Trail Stewardship Program to help us achieve these objectives.
Trail counting – It would be very helpful to have a better sense of how many users are on the trail. There may be volunteers who are willing to count the number of people (and dogs) on the trail during their regular visits and then document the number, the day, date, time and perhaps a few notes on weather conditions during their trail count. You can use our online reporting tool: It would also be useful to have volunteers who are willing to dedicate a full-day to such an endeavor or to do a regular count on a particular day of the week or day of the month repeated over the season.
Trail Work – we organize work parties on the trail to do various things such as: trail hardening where we use found stone to harden soft/wet spots on the trail, trail routing where we use deadwood to block off trail spurs and trail braids / splits, putting up signs and replacing signs, inspection of work done by contractors such as brush cutting and trail hardening, and cleaning up camp fires and camp sites.
Archive and document management – WRWEO is also looking for volunteers who might be interested in doing some administrative work. For example, we have twenty years of documents and reports many of which need to scanned and placed on our website. There are also some specific projects such as reviewing the minutes from each AGM to identify the names and positions of individuals who have been elected to the WRWEO Board of Directors since 1995. We are also looking for individuals who would assist with the updating and management of our website; this includes looking for links that no longer work properly and drafting updated text for various pages.
We also need someone to maintain and manage our membership and mailing lists.
Social media management – WRWEO would like to make better use of our social media tools. We would welcome volunteers who would like to draft regular posts for Facebook (and Twitter) such as ‘species of the week’, ‘wilderness stewardship tips’, ‘WRWEO history’, etc. The St Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association does a great job of producing these types of Facebook posts and WRWEO would like to provide its members and friends with a similar quality of posts. We are also looking for ways to better engage members and friends through Facebook check-ins and would like to create a useful and effective method for people to share information about trail conditions.
Sectoral representation and engagement – WRWEO is also looking for volunteers who might be willing to attend meetings of other organizations and either sit as a representative of WRWEO or at least report back to WRWEO regarding the projects and activities of our ‘sister’ organizations. The number of meetings, level of commitment, and volume of work varies according to the organization.
Fundraising – WRWEO would like to explore opportunities for effective crowd funding and would benefit from volunteers who are willing to undertake fundraising projects.