When Kirk Brode started climbing about 25 years ago he soon realized that besides the fun that comes with the sport, there is also great responsibility to take care of the environment.
"The environment is not an infinite resource," he says. "We all have a small impact but it's an impact and it requires maintenance. You can't use the outdoors without having an impact and I wanted to offset our impact."
To do his part to minimize that impact, Brode began volunteering with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition and he tries to participate in most of the 15 trail days a year organized by the nonprofit. SCC is all about preserving green space, says Matthew Gant, president of the coalition.
"One of the ways we do that is we try to be good stewards of the environment," he says. SCC is hosting a trail day event each Saturday in April at some of the popular climbing areas in the region. During the trail day events, volunteers help with trash pickup and trail maintenance, but the efforts go beyond just fixing trails, Gant says.
"It's also about building relationships," he explains. And there's work for every level. "We have lots of kids who might not be able to pick up a shovel but can pick up trash to make the place cleaner," Gant says.
Doing trail work really makes people appreciate the outdoors. "The next time you go on a hike or climbing, you see it in a whole different way," he adds.
Stone Fort Trail Day
When: 9 a.m.
Where: Montlake Golf Course,
9104 Brow Lake Road, Soddy-Daisy
Objective: To install more of the same flagstone found at the entrance to the boulder field.
Foster Falls Trail Day
When: 10 a.m. EST4
Where: Highway 41 between Jasper and Tracy City (see website for directions)
Objective: Tentative plan is to restore areas with heavy climber impact and repair a wooden step on the climber's access staircase.
Information: Lunch provided. Climbing all afternoon and prizes and raffle for all volunteers. Contact: Gary Owen, email@example.com.
Steele Spring Trail Day
When: 9:30 a.m.
Where: Steele, Ala. (see website for directions)
Objective: Trail work will focus on the trail to Wolfe Wall, weed-eating and yard maintenance around the parking lot.
Information: Will do half a day of work, lunch will be provided. Contact: Johnny Connell: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moss Rock Trail Day
When: 8:30 a.m.
Where: Moss Rock Preserve, 617 Preserve Parkway, Hoover, Ala.
Objective: Clean up.
Contact: Natalie Russo, Natalie.email@example.com or 205-354-3311.
Check www.seclimbers.org for more information about upcoming events.