We often hear about the great work being done to get new trails built but it’s only part of the trail building story. We hear less about the more mundane tasks that help keep a trail project going such as vegetation control, weed spraying and clearing, trail repairs, clearing drains or replanting with natives. It’s often a small number of dedicated individuals who get out there and help keep things ticking over, in Hamilton at the Pukete Farm Park that person is Andrew Weal.
Andrew is the Hamilton Mountain Bike Club’s Tracks Manager and spends on average one day a week at the trails, carrying out the more mundane tasks that no one else wants to deal with as well as figuring out where improvements can be made and working with the Council to organise the yearly planting days. The club has access to approximately 10Ha of land in Pukete Farm Park at the north end of Hamilton where Hamilton City Council lets the club build trails on and use for events. We are told that it wouldn’t have been unkind to refer to the land as ‘waste land’ back when the club first got access. It was originally an old sand quarry, turned swamp, turned dumping ground. But over the 12 years of the club’s occupancy a number of hard-working individuals have cleaned up the area and cut and sculpted the trails within the Park. At the moment there are about 10km of trails in the club’s area and the neighbouring reserve.
The restoration is helped along by the club running planting days every year where the only work done is to plant native trees as part of the ongoing effort to restore the land to its former glory. Then further working bees are held to place natural wool carpets around the plants to keep down the weeds and this is then covered with mulch to give it a natural look. Andrew is always there, on the sprayer, on a spade, or finding something else that needs tending to. We’re told that he doesn’t get to ride the trails much at all – he’s usually too busy working on them!
So Andrew Weal is our “Cactus Trail Hero” this month and his $150 voucher from Cactus Equipment and the Trail Fund NZ T-Shirt we are sending him (and one for Melanie who outed Andrew) are very well deserved. Cheers Andrew for all the hard work and Melanie for letting us know (and the awesome background)!