The initial goal of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship was to mitigate the impact of heavy traffic on the trails in and around Downieville, California. Much of that impact came from mountain bike and dirt bike use, on trails that were first built during the gold rush of the late 1800s. Back then, there wasn’t much thought given to concepts like erosion, watershed siltation, or sustainability of trails (or an environment, for that matter). Nor was there such a thing as recreational use, to say nothing of wheeled recreational use.
The easy way to deal with an environmental impact is to limit that impact. In the case of Downieville, however, limiting the recreational access to those trails would have had immediate and profound negative effects on the economic well-being of that community. So, instead, SBTS was formed in an effort to restore and manage those trails in a more environmentally considerate, long-term sustainable fashion.
Trail bed armoring, grade reversals, drainage reconstruction, grade reductions are all techniques that have been employed in order to make the trails there last longer, with sustained use, and not erode into precious watersheds. By reducing erosion caused by all trail use groups, minimizing the impact of trail use without restricting access, the historic and recreational value of these trails can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
That was the start. Since then, SBTS has expanded in range and scope, but the core vision remains the same – restore, maintain and build recreational trails that can be enjoyed by all users. Build the trails well enough that they can be enjoyed by future generations. Get local communities involved in the preservation and stewardship of those trails, and educate future generations about the beauty of their local outdoors and the importance of the trails that run through them.