Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
This fall, the northern portion of the Fairfield Loop Trail will undergo some much needed maintenance thanks in part to a $25,000 grant from the Wellmark Foundation.
Rob Blair, former chairman of the Loop Trail Committee who helped write the original grant for the trail, said that the grant will help pay to re-rock about five miles of the northern portion of the loop.
“We have not added new rock to that area in about seven years,” Blair said. “The project will be done over two years, 2021 and 2022.
“October, November is what we’re shooting for, and the same time frame for next year.”
The Fairfield Department of Public Works will place the new rock along the trail, and the Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department will flatten out the new rock with a roller.
“We’re trying to do all the labor in-house, kind of donated,” Blair said. “Other groups putting money in to make this happen are the Jefferson County Trails Council, the Fairfield Park and Rec Foundation, the Parks and Rec Department and private donations.”
He added that the total cost of the project is expected to be about $50,000.
There is a new piece of equipment that will help in laying the rock, as well as maintaining the trail.
“Because we have a granular surface trail, once a year, we have to spray it with an herbicide,” Blair said. “Otherwise, the weeds would take over the trail in very short order.
“Nobody likes having to use herbicides. We’ve always wondered if there was some alternative.”
Last year, Blair toured the Heritage Trail from Dyersville to Dubuque with the trail’s head of maintenance.
“He showed me a big piece of equipment they use to groom the trail,” Blair said. “He said that they don’t have to use herbicides on their trail anymore, because (the groomer) disrupts the cycle of the seeds.”
The groomer for that trail is 17-feet wide, making it too large to use on the Fairfield trail.
“I came back to Fairfield, and Kent Rice, who is a retired engineer, said, ‘I’m going to design a mini version of that groomer that the Dubuque folks have,’” Blair said.
Rice took his design to Schaus-Vorhies in Fairfield, and they fabricated the new, smaller groomer. It was put into use this summer.
“They have taken it out on the entire trail system,” Blair said. “It widened the trail back to its original 10-foot width.
“We’re very excited about it for ongoing maintenance purposes.”
The new groomer will prove useful with the rock project this fall, as well.
“When the new rock gets deposited on the trail, we believe this groomer will help us spread it so it can be rolled,” Blair said.