For those interested, here is Mike Nelson's response to my e-mail. Mike obviously didn't understand where I was talking about, because I double checked both items on the trail today. There is still an orange blaze on part of the redirected trail (the DCR has now split Skyline and Reservoir, where they used to be combined. Reservoir now sticks to the lowland fire road, while Skyline continues to use the higher trail -- clockwise, there is still no marking or signage pointing out the trail has changed, but the blazes have been changed. Of course, if you're used to the trail, you wouldn't even notice, because, without signage, you wouldn't expect the trail to change.) I do appreciate the work that the SCA is doing, and they're only working on the plans given to them by the DCR.
On a related note, I ran the new trail counterclockwise yesterday and clockwise today (only because I knew where it was) and it still does provide a good challenge as far as running goes, the rerouting sticks to a much-more "runable" uphill section than the old one did. Ditto to the new switchback a little farther on beyond Sheepfold, where the SCA stripped out the old footbridges (which got REALLY slippery in the winter). It's marked well, but I'm a little afraid as to what will happen after the rain.
Also, it's starting to get really confusing as to where biking is permitted now, as it seems like a larger portion of Reservoir is off-limits, and the section which is now only Skyline is obviously off-limits, where as before I assumed biking was permitted on this section (maybe only because I saw them so frequently)
Anyway, let's all keep each other posted..
Thank you for your email. The DCR, working the Student Conservation Association (SCA), put a lot of planning and work into the trail re-route that you are referring to. (6 members of the SCA crew spent 10 days on the work, and DCR staff spent an additional 3 days working on the project after the SCA had gone.) As such, the staff was dismayed and concerned by your email, thinking that some of the recently completed signage and work must have already been undone, leading to confusion on the trial. DCR staff headed out to the area to fix and replace any missing or damaged signage, but found all signage still in place. (2 images of the trail signage are attached.)… If there is a location on the trail that you find confusing, please let us know specifically where that is, and we can add a signage to fix the problem.
I do regret to hear that the newly closed segment of the Reservoir Trail was your favorite portion of the trail. That said, whether or not we all agree on park management strategies, the recently completed Fells Resource Management Plan was very thorough, and involved widespread solicitation of input from stakeholder groups and the public as a whole. The DCR is now in the process of implementing the new plan, and this trail re-route is just one small part of the greater whole.
Please accept this email as confirmation that the signage and trail markings that now exist on the Reservoir Trail indicate the official layout of the trail. Any use of the (newly closed) former trail segment is now considered “off-trail use”, and is by definition a violation of the DCR rules and regulations.
As you correctly point out, the DCR (and state in general) is struggling with budget and staffing shortages. It adds strain on these limited resources when the staff needs to spend time re-doing work that has already been done. Please help us by obeying the posted signage, and by leaving the signage and the brush that impedes the closed trail segment in place.
Deputy Regional Ranger, North RegionDepartment of Conservation and Recreation