Weather an expensive wash-out along popular Butler-Freeport, Roaring Run trails
It’s a washout for two nonprofit trail organizations scrambling to cover about $60,000 in repairs to the Roaring Run Trail in Kiski Township and the Butler-Freeport Community Trail.
Relentless storms over the past month caused washouts so bad a koi fish was transported from someone’s pond last month onto the Butler-Freeport trail in Buffalo Township.
The rains caused drainage problems and downed trees, washing away trail surfaces in some places. Likely the worst damage reported is on seven miles of the 21-mile-long Butler-Freeport Community Trail stretching through seven communities from Freeport to the city of Butler.
Both trails are still open but with rough spots.
Hardest hit were sections in Buffalo Township, Freeport and Winfield, where the washout scrubbed the trail bare of its smooth fine-gravel surface.
“It’s devastating,” trail council board President Chris Ziegler said.
Another part on the trail in Winfield has new drainage problems with water overwhelming two 24-inch pipes. Ziegler is considering installing a bridge and is waiting on quotes and searching for grants to pay for it.
“I’m tired of messing around,” she said.
The trail never recovered from the intensity of a storm in late May and the many rainy days after that, according to Ziegler.
Volunteers could not get to cleaning out ditches along portions of the trail that collect water. In fact, they’re still waiting to run a machine to clean out those ditches.
However, the trail did receive a $26,500 grant for rental equipment and surface material, requiring volunteers to do the work.
They will need more money long-term.
“There isn’t a pot of money sitting and available to trails for weather-related repairs or an emergency fund,” Ziegler said.
It’s all volunteers, just like at the Roaring Run Watershed Association and the challenge of finding the time, the money and the good weather to the get the job done.
At Roaring Run, a number of mountain bike trails that spider web off of the main trail have been closed and will be until volunteers can manually repair the side trails in steep, hilly areas where equipment cannot be brought in, according to Tom Iseman, vice president of the Roaring Run Trail Association.
He and Ken Kaminski, the association’s president, estimate the cost for repairs on Roaring Run’s main trail will be at least $10,000.
“We don’t know if an old mine shaft blew out, but the water from the hill has changed its course,” Iseman said.
From the trail head on the Apollo side, water deposited mud and washed out parts of the trail at miles two, three and 4½.
Iseman and other volunteers have cleaned up five fallen trees and, as of Tuesday, had four more to go.
The trail repairs will require volunteers to rent large machinery to dig and install new underground drains, which they hope to do in the next two weeks.
The trail is bordered by a steep hillside, formerly mined for coal.
The nonprofit association, has the money in its budget for the repairs, but those will detract from other maintenance, Iseman said.
Donations and volunteers are always needed, he added.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .