Scott Hyatt says he knows the local mountain bike trails from managing them as operations project manager for the J. Strom Thurmond Project, a division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Strom Thurmond Lake.
But managing the trails and riding them are two different things, Hyatt admits. That's where the Central Savannah River Area chapter of the Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Organization comes in.
"I like to think I know a lot about the trails, but these are the guys that are riding it every day," Hyatt said. "They can come in here and say, 'This is the part that really needs some work.' Or, 'This is what we'd really like to see.'"
For the past few years, the two organizations have worked hand-in-hand to maintain the local trails and promote the sport of mountain biking. Now, their affiliation has become official.
On Oct. 29, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and SORBA-CSRA signed a Challenge Partnership Agreement. It sets out a maintenance plan that includes the Corps helping SORBA volunteers and allowing for improvements on the trails and building of new trails.
"This just formalizes a lot of it," Hyatt said. "It's also another opportunity for leadership of the project and leadership of SORBA to come together to talk about future projects."
SORBA-CSRA Chapter President Paul Farrow believes the partnership will lead to a new level of efficiency.
"We're going to be able to coordinate the hours, the volunteer time and the cost of doing the maintenance on the trails," Farrow said.
"I think (the partnership) is going to provide us with the advantage of being able to do more projects," he added. "We'll be able to do the maintenance and more projects more efficiently."
In Columbia County, the Corps manages the Keg Creek, Bartram and Lake Springs trails, which total 27.5 miles.
SORBA, which is partnered with the International Mountain Biking Association, has 27 chapters and more than 4,000 members. Locally, the organization has roughly 160 members.
Those members volunteer their time to maintain the trails and help to educate new riders on techniques and other aspects of the sport. Hyatt said some U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees are also members of SORBA.
"To me, it means a lot when somebody's willing to donate their time," Hyatt said. "It's something they're passionate about. And we've determined that this is a good use for our resources here.
"With some passionate people out here, you're going to get a really excellent product on the ground that everybody can come out and enjoy."
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