Back Country Horsemen of America: Pine Valley Bridge Project

St. George, Utah
By Paul G. Sloane
Southwest Chapter President, BCHU

Pine valley is located within the Dixie National Forest about forty-five miles north of St. George, Utah.  For decades there has been a two mile long trail that runs east/west originating at the equestrian campground and terminating at the Whipple trailhead.

There are two water crossings along this trail that have deteriorated significantly over the years making it difficult to cross safely. Our Southwest branch of BCHU wanted to build bridges for these crossings but the funds were simply not there. Then we learned about the Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG) Workshop being held in February 2018 and attended that workshop. We then partnered with the USFS and American Conservation Experience (ACE) and applied for the grant and was subsequently awarded a $20,987 grant to build the bridges in June 2018. This was a 50% match grant where UORG would match cash contributions and in-kind labor to purchase the bridges.

In January the bridge designs were completed by the USFS and the bridges were purchased with a delivery schedule for late May 2019. The bridges arrived in mid June and we gathered our troops readying for installation. The bridges are robust to say the least with the total weight of the components tipping the scales around 3,000 lbs. each. The bridges are 21 ft in length and 5 ft (inside width) with Glulaminated decks that are 6-3/4″ thick. Hand rails were also included.

The challenge then became transporting the materials from the parking area to the bridge sites. One location was over 700 ft and the other was slightly further. Keeping in mind that each deck component weighed more than 400 lbs and had to be off-loaded by hand and transported part way to the site by hand. The USFS provided a side-by-side vehicle with trailer which was used to transport the heavy items most of the way which was a great help and relief.

Throughout the installation process our chapter had fourteen people on the job, ACE provided another dozen and the USFS provided another three persons. It took four days to get the bridges in place and assembled. The ACE crews are continuing to build the approaches to the bridges. We anticipate that these bridges will provide many decades of service to horsemen, hikers, bike riders alike.


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