Updated Nov. 7, 2020 to recognize those who helped create the reroute. See under KUDOS below. Also added a paragraph about the potential dangers of a trail and driveway sharing the same space. It’s a few paragraphs down. Please be careful.
There has been a bit of a change on a small part of a Goldstream Valley trail.
Someone has built a driveway along a small portion of the Tanana Valley Railroad Trail that runs along the south side of Goldstream Valley on the west side of Ballaine Road. The driveway takes off from the northern part of Miller Hill Road and heads west.
Having trouble picturing where that’s at? I’ve created a Google Maps dot here: https://goo.gl/maps/QU1zmJSDaPwGfx3K9
This trail gets much more use in winter, so many people might not have noticed the change. It’s uncertain if and how the driveway will affect trail users. I have been told that the driveway owners don’t plan to block the trail. They have cleared a space just off the trail and hope to build a place before full winter hits. However, I have not talked to the landowners directly. If they don’t block the trail, and it’s not plowed down to dirt/gravel, then it may not be a problem. Time will tell. (Note: the landowners later decided to block the trail.)
Nov 7 update: Matt, mentioned below, pointed out that having a trail and a driveway share space creates the potential for dangerous situations. For example, if a dog team is using the trail just as a car turns onto that portion of the driveway. Or if a child runs out onto the trail when a snowmachine (or bike or musher) is moving down the trail a little fast. So, please be careful if you use this section of trail.
Neighbors (and others) have built a reroute around the driveway. It’s not completely obvious. If you are heading west on the trail, the reroute splits off from the main trail just before Miller Hill Road. That part is obvious. However, the reroute then heads south on Miller Hill Road for about 100 feet before turning off the west side of the road, going across the powerline easement and then into the woods (south of the driveway owner’s property). From there it goes 1200 feet or so until it joins the valley trail again.
Earlier update: After my post was made public, Kristin Eckwright shared it on the Goldstream Community Facebook page. A long conversation ensued which included whether or not the driveway would become a problem for trail users in the future. Some said no, others weren’t so sure. In any case, as Kristin wrote, the reroute is there if it is needed. She also provided a roughly drawn map of the reroute (below). Thank you again for providing the reroute in case it is necessary.
That portion of the trail apparently does not have any sort of protection, such as an easement. It does appear to be in the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s Comprehensive Recreational Trails Plan. However, that is a planning tool. According to the plan, an easement would be required IF the land is subdivided. That doesn’t appear to be the case here. According to Bryant Wright, trails coordinator for the Fairbanks North Star Borough” it doesn’t appear that the land has ever been subdivided under the Borough’s code.”
So, hopefully no problems will result from this. And if there are problems, at least a reroute exists. Thank you to the people who put in the reroute and the landowner who allowed the trail to be rerouted across their property.
Nov 7 update: Since writing this post I have learned that Rob Pristash is the landowner who allowed the trail to be rerouted onto his property. Apparently, Rob has done a lot to help keep up the trails in the Goldstream Valley. Kristin (mentioned above) and Matt live on Rob’s land. They organized the work party to create the reroute. According to Matt, Kristin threw out “a message with non bias information requesting help. The next day I rented a brushhog and a couple of volunteers showed up. By the end of the day we had a trail.” One of those volunteers was Sven Grage. So, thank you to everyone who were involved with getting the reroute in!
This is another illustration of what happens when trails don’t have proper protections. This section of trail is small, but even a small section of trail can provide connection to a much larger network of trails.
Landowners can provide easement protections by filling out and filing an easement form found here.
If anyone wants to see what can be done about protecting that trail (or any others) please contact me (email@example.com) or FNSB Trails Coordinator Bryant Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org;907-459-7401).
Barb O'Donnell says
Eric, can I subscribe to this newsletter? thankyou
Seth Adams says
It’s also worth noting that in-general, easements are great to protect trails. However, there are quite a few trails where the easement is a generic access easement, with no particulars given to it being a trail. So you can build a subdivision road or a driveway on what had been a historic trail (this situation being discussed here is not that situation, however.)
Lots of the historic FE Ditch has been lost to this, for example – it has an easement, but it’s a convenient spot to put a road, so that’s where roads were put. Access is still possible, but the trail is ruined.
Eric Troyer says
Good point. Most section line easements are that way.