Wednesday, August 28, 2013


May 14 thru May 16 2013 In the Pine woods of east Texas our assignment for this work trip was to continue the cleanup of the heavily damaged Lake Ratcliff Recreation Area in the Davy Crockett National Forest. The area remains closed due to high wind damage to the forest and there is still a lot of work to be done before the Park service can reopen the Recreation area to camping and general use.
Our leader there as usual was Ray 4, the other two Woodsmen of the Apocalypse, Chuck, and Riley (just Riley) were with him. The rest of the tamer crew was Derly, Mike, John, Robert, Charlie, and Andy .
This particular trip was dedicated to splitting wood, a lot of wood that was downed trees that had already been cut into pieces that would fit into powered splitting machines. Ray explained that the 2 machines would do all the work for us. We found out quickly he erred in telling us that. For a day and a half we split wood as fast as we could and then distributed it around the camping area for later use in some good old campfires. Ray and Chuck also dismantled several camping sites that we no longer useable.  The two teams of wood splitters had quite an argument about who split the most wood. We did not have an impartial judge so there was no declared winner and we did not settle the age old question of "How much wood would a woodchuck split if a woodchuck could split wood" or something like that!
 About mid day of the second day the rains came and work was halted, fun began and a good time was had by all. Again Riley came thru with his famous "Stories Around the Campfire".
The Rec area may be opened by this fall after several years of closure. The Trail Tamers will return when Ray 4 calls.
by Andy, crew member who lived it


A hardy bunch of trail tamers converged on the oldest state park in Texas on March 5th 2013 and worked for 2 days. The crew was led by Robert Gross. The rest of the team was made up of The Three Woodsmen of the Apocalypse, Ray, Chuck, and Riley (just Riley) as well as Charlie, Terrance, Mitch, Mae, and Andy.
Our primary task was to clear a huge amount of dead and downed trees and brush that was choking an area along a trail and dry creek near a very popular spot known as Indian Cave . Several other standing and partially downed trees in the area were also cut down and removed for chipping, shredding, and some to be removed later. Other work involved naturalizing the work area and cleaning up after the commercial chipping machine was used. After  quite a while of trial and error Ray guided the set up of a rope and pulley system using our large hand truck and powered by his Ram truck to pull the dead material up a steep slope to be chipped up.
Over 116 man hours were worked by the crew to get the job done. The park superintendant, Ms. Huth, seemed pleased with our work. She was very accommodating to all involved and everyone had a great time since Riley told us a few of his stories around the camp fire. The park still contains a lot of dead trees and brush due to the drought and a past flood. Much work remains even though the park is open and has some great scenery.
by Andrew Waters, crew member who lived it!

Letter of appreciation from The Nature Conservancy at Davis Mountains Preserve (west TX) - October 18, 2012

Good Afternoon All,
I wanted to send out an email to let everyone know what a fantastic job the Central Texas Trail Tamers did this week.  The group of 9 arrived on Sunday and were hard at work on Monday morning.  During the course of the week the Trail Tamers put in 216 hours of work on our new horse/atv trail.  This trail connects a 13 mile loop through Madera Canyon, Lockes Gaps, and Cherry Canyon back to the MCC.  All of the chainsaw work was completed ahead of time and the group focused on building a full bench trail around the hill in front of the MCC.  This trail was also worked on by Saint Stephen’s out of Austin in June.  I would also like to extend a special thanks to our wonderful Technician Greg Crow who made most of this possible and organized the crew throughout the week.  His experience on the preserve and trail building is invaluable. 

Shawn A. Benedict
Davis Mountains Preserve Manager
Cell- 409-658-2888
Office- 480-458-6860

The Nature Conservancy

P.O. Box 2092
Ft. Davis, TX 79734

Thank You e-mail from Rebecca Flack with The Nature Conservancy's Love Creek Preserve, April 2012

Well, now that this email is late enough to be sufficiently embarrassing, I want to thank everyone again for your help and hard work during the trail building week out at Love Creek over a month ago (wow, time flies!). It was so great to work with all of you and to meet all of the new folks who came out to help!! Thank you so much for volunteering your time, energy, sweat, brains, brawn and enthusiasm for this project!! This was incredibly tough terrain to work in, and much time was spent marching up and down the hills with heavy tools and supplies, raking and digging out new sections of the trail, trimming and cutting branches/trees, all the while, looking at rocks, shopping for rocks, moving rocks, picking up rocks, tripping over rocks, throwing rocks, contemplating rocks, digging out rocks, cursing rocks, stacking at rocks, raking rocks, kicking rocks, breaking big rocks into smaller rocks, flipping over rocks, staring at rocks ,rotating rocks, rotating rocks back to their original alignment with encouraging remarks such as “ok, one last time” offered up from those nearby, silently judging rocks and, oh, did I mention, a lot of time was spent working with rocks? In spite of everything, everyone was extremely positive and we got a tremendous amount of work done!! Thanks to you, we are that much closer to completing a trail that will connect the two sides of the preserve. A special thank you to George Madding (aka, Captain Ahab), who not only conquered the White Rock (aka, the White Whale) during the final days of our trial building extravaganza, but who came out early, got things set up, lined out our volunteer crews and spearheaded the whole week of work, thank you!! Also, a big thank you to all of the Trail Tamers, who, in addition to all the help and assistance you provided, openly shared your trail building expertise with us and taught some of us newbies a few new trail building tricks which we will put to use as we progress on this project.
If  you would like to see the photos I took during the course of the week, please go to:   Password: LoveCreekTrail
I apologize that I didn’t get photos of everyone who worked, I was running around to different parts of the preserve a couple of the days. I know several others took pictures though, so if you’d like to share them with the group, feel free to send them to me and I can upload them to my album. Also, for some reason, the photos uploaded in the reverse order I took them in, so if you want to look at them in order, skip to the end and work your way back.
Thank you again to everyone who came out, you guys were awesome!! You all have an open invitation to come back anytime to visit, hike, volunteer J, whatever, just give me a call!! Please share this email with any friends or family members I missed, as I know I don’t have email addresses for everyone who helped with the work week.
Thanks again,

Rebecca Flack
Southern Hill Country Project Director
(979) 777-1862 (Mobile)
The Nature Conservancy
Texas Field Office 

P.O. Box 1085
Bandera, TX 78003



Trail Tamers President George Mading, accompanied by Vick Hines, made an advance trip from Austin to the Nature Conservancy's acquisition (300 miles west and south of Austin), and arranged for our group to create a nature trail.  Nine of us travelled to this preserve and following the path previously flagged by George and Vick, managed to carve some one and a quarter miles over very rough terrain to a viewpoint on the caprock where the confluence of Independence Creek and the Pecos River is visible.

Even though Independence Creek is largely fed by the amazing springs on this property (and subsequently, comprising 40% of the Pecos River downstream) the surrounding terrain is Chihuahuan desert limestone laid down eons ago and carved into canyons over time.  It is an awesome panorama but an arduous task to devise and cut a hiking trail in these conditions.

Several trips will be necessary to complete a proper hiking trail with full benching and rock steps at the steep top section.  Nevertheless, our initial path opens up this former ranch to adventuresome trekkers. 

Given the extreme drought conditions (dead junipers and prickly pear cactus!) we were gratified to lay off one day when more than an inch of rain fell:  this spring season will produce a fantastic wildflower display. Trail Tamers worked in excess of some 220 hours.  Driving daily some five miles to the work site we were rewarded with many wildlife sightings--prairie dogs, turkeys, mule ear deer, sheep, armadillo, road runners, ducks, hawks, etc.  Because the Conservancy is slowly creating wetlands with the spring source this area will be a prime destination for birders and other wildlife seekers.

Mitch Lopez
Mae Lopez
Dorothy Lay
Vick Hines
Dennis Walsh
Tom Dunlap
BIll Nelson
Martha Davies