A trail sign could be the difference between a planned two hour walk and a surprise, six hour hike. One nonprofit is busy providing helpful signs to keep hikers oriented and on the right path.
Island Trails Network executive director Andy Shroeder (shroh-dir) says the group won a grant of about $22,000 through the State of Alaska’s Recreational Trails Program in 2014 and just began working on the signage project this year.
He says the grant has two purposes.
“One is to create and build capacity at Island Trials Network to produce signs locally and on demand to meet the needs of the trail user community and the land agencies that manage those trails. And the other purpose and outcome of the grant is to provide a demonstration project of a 100 signs.”
Shroeder says Island Trails Network has been working on setting up those signs for the last six months and has installed them at various locations including Russian Ridge and Jack and Lee Lakes in the Womens Bay area.
He says to produce the signs, Island Trails Network volunteers use a machine to carve into pieces of wood.
“Saint Innocent’s Academy loaned us a little work space in one of their garages where we have a CNC router which is really the piece of equipment that was purchased by the grant. It’s machine controlled, so we design these sign boards in the software, and the computer talks directly to the router and, just like a printer, out comes a sign with the letters and even images and logos and things engraved in it.”
He says they coat the engraved letters and logos with black paint.
After the grant ends this month, Shroeder says Island Trails Network will apply for more funding under the same program. He says they may work out a nominal amount to charge for the signs and will continue to seek donations of wood. He says they’re also training board members and interested volunteers in how to build, paint, and install the signs.