Trails Corner 2-8-2022

This February, the Pisgah Ranger District welcomes back a partner work crew from the Conservative Anabaptist Service Program (CASP). This program provides an alternative service program for conscientious objectors, connecting young men to work projects in construction and forestry in lieu of selective service. Many are skilled tradesmen and carpenters, and all are hard workers with an ethic of service. They will be with us for four weeks and we are extremely excited to welcome them to the Pisgah and see the great work they will accomplish.

CASP work groups have a long history on the Pisgah Ranger District.

In early 2020, they completed split-rail fencing projects in the Rainbow Falls area and began turnpiking on the Estatoe trail. 2019 saw a visiting CASP crew complete construction on a new footbridge on the Exercise Trail near the Ranger Station and replace the wood decking on the steel bridge spanning the Davidson River on the Art Loeb trail.

Back in 2013, CASP service members completed work on an extensive network of boardwalks traversing the rare Appalachian Bog ecosystems of the south end of the Pink Beds Loop trail. Working in the same area of the Pink Beds this year, we discovered names carved on a decking board of these boardwalks revealing that several of our current crewmembers indeed had brothers and cousins on this 2013 CASP service project, bringing full circle the tradition and ethic of service of this important partner organization.

As mentioned, this month’s CASP crew is working on a series of trail projects on the Pink Beds Loop. With the guidance of FS and TPC trail workers, they have repaired a damaged footbridge building new elevated foundations and leveling it, as well as constructing a turnpiked approach to the first bridge out of the parking lot into the Pink Beds. They have also turnpiked significant stretches of low-lying trail and built a series of bog bridges across mudholes to improve hiker experience and reduce trail and resource impacts.

With a trail as flat as the Pink Beds, with no place for water to drain, elevating the trail tread via turnpike or bog bridge was the only real solution. In addition to trails projects, the crew is taking on a variety of improvement projects throughout the Cradle of Forestry area. They have constructed and installed split-rail fence on the Biltmore Campus trail and other areas of the Cradle Grounds, completed painting jobs in the Discovery Center, disassembled the deteriorated structure around the sawmill display, and cleared excess vegetation from an outdoor educational forestry display. And all this in just their first two weeks! Their stay will see them continue work around the Cradle and Pink Beds area on a series of projects.

Great thanks to CASP for their service and to FIND Outdoors for providing the materials for the projects completed during their stay, and thanks also to all of you for your continued support of the Pisgah Conservancy and Pisgah National Forest!