To log or not? To let fallen trees lie and rot, or clear them? What to do about run-off and drainage? Trail erosion? Increased public access? Cars? Mountain bikes? Dogs? Horses? Camping? Fires? There are many complicated — and controversial — issues with which Steep Rock’s Trustees must grapple. Over the years, hundreds of deliberate decisions have been made to retain the seemingly natural appearance of Steep Rock, while keeping it safe for increasing public use.
Over the years, innumerable volunteers — Scouts, students and staff of local schools, neighbors, members of Washington’s Rod & Gun Club, Garden Club, etc. — have pitched in to help the Association’s paid staff to maintain trails, dig water diversion ditches, clear brush, repair footbridges, clean up debris that washes down the river, paint signs, build picnic tables, mark boundaries and inventory birds, wildlife, pests and invasive plants within the reservations. This spirit of community involvement was important to the founders of Steep Rock, and it is gratifying that it continues today.
Steep Rock’s Stewardship Committee works closely with the Trails Committee to determine what trails need work and restoration; what areas should be mown and when; which trees should be felled for the health of the forest and the safety of its visitors. In the past few years, Steep Rock has sought the advice of Star Childs and Peter Jensen in the management of the reservations’ stands of trees, its cleared meadows, trail safety and erosion issues. And a recent study by Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies graduate students details the complicated issues associated with managing the Macricostas Preserve.