Help To Save the Maah Daah Hey Trail, July 5-22
June 26, 2019 | View PDF
Families, individuals, and businesses are invited to help with the annual upkeep of the Maah Daah Hey Trail during July.
The nearly month-long event is the second annual Big Push, though the event was only officially named last summer, according to Lindsey Ybarra, who co-founded Save the Maah Daah Hey with her husband Nick. The event gathers volunteers to upkeep all 100 miles of the Trail. That's 200 miles of mowing, weed whacking, trimming and hand shoveling, work entirely completed by volunteers through as many as 700 combined volunteer hours annually.
Because of the dedication of volunteers, the condition of the Trail has improved significantly in the past several years. Between 2010 and 2015, the "perfect storm" of circumstances, including the rise in the oil boom and limited Forest Service staff, left the Trail largely unmanaged. "The trail was underused, overgrown, washed out, unenjoyable, and in some places un-usable or even unfindable due to overgrown vegetation and erosion," Nick said on his blog.
"Due to the vegetation of the Little Missouri National Grasslands and the erosive nature of the badlands soil, the MDH will forever need annual maintenance," he explained. In past years, Nick and sometimes only one other volunteer would spend a weekend throughout the summer working on the trail, but more recently, with the help of many, many additional volunteers, the work has been condensed, and completed during the month of July.
"It's such a shorter time line because we keep getting more groups and more people to help," said Lindsey. Anyone can help, she says. "Sometimes the guys will push the brush mowers; there are ladies who come out and help; there are people who come just to drive food out. There's a lot of different ways to help," she explained. Volunteers are well-coordinated, and sign up through a form on the non-profit's website. "You'd select specifically the trail work, and let us know who you are. We'll keep families together, and place you with more experienced volunteers. We do have several volunteers that come back every year," Lindsey said.
Volunteers aren't expected to bring their own equipment. Save the Maah Daah Hey maintains the trails through a volunteer agreement with the US Forest Service. The Forest Service lends them their brush mowers, and the non-profit has purchased three of their own brush mowers, five string trimmers, trailers, and other equipment through grants and donations.
Many wonder what would motivate a group to mow 200 miles of trails. Nick's answer is "dedication," he said in a blog post. "The volunteers who worked on this trail did it because they are dedicated individuals who love the trail. Without these volunteer efforts, there are parts of the trail that would be completely impassable. Without these volunteer efforts, this trail would cease to exist. Nobody would be able travel across Devil's Pass, gaze at the Little Missouri River from the switchbacks they're climbing, or any other unforgettable memory from the trail," he explained.
Now, the Maah Daah Hey Trail is home to several well-known extreme bike races, including the Maah Daay Hey 100 and the Badlands Gravel Battle, and foot races like the Bull Moose Mud Run, and is enjoyed by countless visitors every year.
If you, your family, or your business is interested in helping to make the Maah Daah Hey findable, useable, and enjoyable for all trail users, visit http://www.Experienceland.org to sign up to volunteer at The Big Push, July 5-22.