I would guess all of you that use the trails in and around Big Bear have wondered what kind of use they actually get. The Trail Foundation has asked that same question. And as you all should know we don’t just ask those questions but we try and find and answer. With the help of Audrey Scranton, one of our Foundation Board member and a retired USFS professional, we were able to acquire the use of a trail counting device. We decided to install it on the Pedal Path and just see what kind of numbers it generated. We were amazed. From 6/24/11 to 7/25/11 – one month – 23,629 passer-bys were counted. Very interesting data and very useful. But we began to realize this was very helpful being able to determine what kind of use would be even more helpful. So The Trails Foundation voted to purchase a motion sensor camera that actually takes pictures of all that passes by its lense. After some initial experimentation we decided to install both the simple counter and the camera on 2N10 from 9/1/11 to 9/23/11. Again a big Wow. We counted 1883 “user triggers” in that period. (A “user trigger” could be a single car or a group of 5 hikers. See the video below.) So what we now have is a rough count and a picture that will enable us to figure out who is using the trails. We have not had a chance to analyze the pictures yet because there are 1883 of them. Want a job? If someone had the time and would be willing to help with this analysis it would be very helpful. All you have to do is step through each frame of the video and log how many of each type of forest user. Eighteen-hundred times. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
At this point I am sure some of you are saying, “that’s kind of neat but so what”. The USFS and many granting agencies thrive on data. And when we can show hard numbers of the volume of trail use in Big Bear Valley we think this will be excellent data that USFS can use to support staffing and money requests and when we apply for grants it give us great data to support grants requests.
I also would guess some of you wonder what we do with your money. The purchase of the motion camera came totally from the Big Bear Trails Foundation budget. We work hard to use your money in a responsible and helpful way to make big bear valley a non-motorized-friendly community. Support us when you can. If you want to see if you are a current member go to our web site and look under Supporters.