Trail Care Coordinator Job Description

The Benzie County Board of Commissioners, Betsie Valley Trailway Management Council (BVTMC) and Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail (FBVT) agreement of May, 2006 established the position of Trail Care Coordinator, his/her relationships, responsibilities and authority.

The Trail Care Coordinator shall serve as an agent of and report to BVTMC, will be responsible for assessing the maintenance needs of the trail, providing for routine maintenance, coordinating construction projects deemed appropriate by BVTMC, and for obtaining, coordinating, and supervising the participation of volunteers in construction and maintenance projects on the Trail. The Trail Care Coordinator may issue motor vehicle permits as necessary, shall coordinate projects and funding with FBVT and BVTMC, and shall participate as if a BVTMC Member but not vote at their meetings. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Personal inspection of the Trailway as needed to remain familiar with its condition, maintenance needs and activities on or affecting it.
  • Arranging for maintenance and storage of equipment.
  • Making arrangements for materials, equipment and tools needed for work projects by volunteers.
  • Arranging and supervising Trail work projects by volunteers and contractors.
  • Working with owners of property adjacent to the Trailway regarding Trail issues.
  • Remaining available by e-mail and phone. for trail related issues.
  • Keeping BVTMC informed of activities and attending BVTMC meetings.
  • Keeping FBVT informed of activities.                                               

In addition, the TCC should have vehicle with a trailer hitch and capable of carrying three passengers. 

Regular Maintenance Activities Managed by the Trail Care Coordinator

All of the following activities have been performed on a regular basis, but due to budget and resource limits, they have not always been done with the frequency indicated.  The frequencies are intended to be guidelines that try to balance keeping the trail maintained and pleasant for users while keeping costs and volunteer time reasonable.

Special events on the trail can trigger or alter maintenance plans.  For example, in years when the Michigander, which is a large, multi-day group bicycle event uses the trail between Beulah and Thompsonville, we’ve tried to upgrade maintenance in advance.

Tree and Limb Removal

  • Remove downed trees or limbs that block trail or shoulders – the urgency depends on the degree to which traffic on the trail is impeded and where the blockage is located, but the goal is to remove anything that blocks bicycle traffic or cannot be easily bypassed by pedestrians within 24 hours of being notified.
  • Notes –
    • ‘Leaners’ that are not hindering passage on the trail are a matter of judgment whether they need to be removed.
    • The trail is not maintained in winter, except between Frankfort and Elberta, and except for the snowmobile portion between Beulah and Thompsonville, which the snowmobile club maintains. Tree and limb removal on the rest of the trail is one of the first activities after snow melt.
    • Volunteers have handled this in recent years, but given the inherent danger of working with chainsaws, care must be taken to assure anyone using a chainsaw is competent. Some large or difficult situations should be handled by professionals.  We have not required training or certification as other trails in the area have done, but that should be considered.

Mowing and Trimming

  • Paved Segment
    • Mow shoulders 2-4 feet wide; three times a year
    • Trim around sign posts, benches, railings and bridges
  • Crystal Lake Segment
    • Mow shoulders 1 foot wide; 2 times a year
    • Trim around sign posts, benches, railings and bridges
  • Thompsonville Segment
    • Mow trail and shoulders to total width of 14 feet; 1 time a year
    • Trim around sign posts, benches, railings and bridges
  • Mowing has been handled in a variety of ways in recent years. Until recently the Benzie County Road Commission did the mowing, but they charged for the work and were not particularly flexible in accommodating our needs and preferences on timing.  Michigan DNR has done most of the mowing last year and this year, though that has been supplemented with volunteer equipment and effort.
  • Poison ivy on the shoulders has become a significant concern. In a number of locations, it has gotten quite thick.  Warning signs were put up in 2020 due to reluctance to use herbicide.  In Sept. 2020, the Management Council suggested using herbicide but it was too late in the year for effective chemical control, so this will need to be revisited in 2021.

Cut Back Brush and Limbs

  • Keep brush and limbs 4 feet back from trail edges. This need is highly variable, with some areas needing more frequent trimming.
  • Trim brush limbs and weeds as needed to maintain safe sight lines at road crossings, driveways and business entrances, and to make sure warning signs are visible.
  • This has been primarily a volunteer activity in recent years, but it taxes the capabilities and availability of volunteers who use manual or relatively small, handheld tools.
  • At times in the past, the Road Comm. used a tractor mounted articulated ‘brush hog’ type cutter in a vertical position, and DNR may try similar equipment this fall; but such equipment tends to leave unsightly, ragged vegetation that is not popular with most trail users
  • Some trail users prefer that the shoulders be left alone to encourage wildflower growth, and to allow turtle eggs laid along the trail in late spring/early summer to be given a chance to hatch, but safety guidelines suggest that a cleared shoulder is needed.

Maintain Trail Surface

Paved Segment, as needed:

  • Cut roots
  • Treat root ‘pops’ (over the counter brushy weed killer has been used sparingly
  • Fill cracks (cheap liquid filler from home improvement stores has been used with volunteer labor; contractors using heated material has not been within our budget)
  • The asphalt segment of the trail is approaching the end of its expected life span, but for the most part is in quite good condition

Crystal Lake Segment

  • Regrade, smooth and roll as needed
  • Repair damage and washouts as needed
  • After surface upgrade between Beulah and County Farm Road, it is anticipated that annual maintenance will be needed

Beulah to Thompsonville Segment

  • Smooth and regrade road crossings annually and any significant damage or washouts as needed
  • Annually treat trail surface with herbicide to prevent grass and weeds overrunning trail. In 2020, for the first time in recent years, a trail user expressed concern about the use of herbicide.  The contractor used a herbicide that is touted as less toxic than Roundup, but this will need to be revisited in 2021.

Boardwalks and Fishing/Observation Platforms Adjacent to Trail (Frankfort/Elberta area) and Wooden Bridge (over Betsie River near Thompsonville)

  • Inspect for loose, rotten or warped deck boards
  • Replace as needed (This has been successfully done with volunteer labor because the number of boards replaced at any one time has been manageable (half a day of effort max); hiring a contractor should be considered if the amount of work is more substantial; e.g., if Betsie Bay recedes and major replacement of the boards on the flooded boardwalk are needed

Blow Debris Off of Trail

  • Paved Segment – Utilizing trail’s blower, remove debris in early spring, in fall and as needed
  • The blower is a high capacity model which is run off of a PTO
  • The blower is currently stored at the Betsie River Campsite and Kris Welty, the owner of the campground has performed the blowing gratis
  • Some area trails blow off their trails far more often than we have, which is nice, but in my view not really necessary


  • Replace or repair safety related signs as needed
  • Upgrade general signage as time and budget permits
  • Most of the signage is attached to wooden sign posts installed 15- 20 years ago, and quite a few are beginning to fail, so it’s anticipated this will be a more frequent need than in the past


  • Monitor culvert near M115 for beaver activity and blockage; hire trapper if beavers return and block culvert
  • Monitor turtle pond to assure water level is neither too high or low


Notes / Definitions

Paved Segment = Frankfort to Mollineaux Road; Mile Marker 0 to 6; 6 miles      

Crystal Lake Segment = Mollineaux Road to Beulah; MM 6 to MM 9; 3 mi

Thompsonville Segment = Beulah to Thompsonville; MM 9 to MM 21; 11 mi

The Crystal Lake Segment right-of-way is only 10 feet wide and subject to special provisions in the legal settlement that allowed the trail to be built.