Pensacola Off-Road Cyclists lend a helping hand to maintain campus bike trails

By Shawna Moore
Staff Writer

April 15 marked the first of many planned preservation efforts from Pensacola’s Off-Road Cyclists (PORC) to clean and maintain UWF’s mountain-biking trail.

Of the university’s three nature trails, PORC will ensure maintenance of the longest trail, the West Campus Trail. The trail is located on the west end of the campus and runs behind Edward Ball Nature Trail. The trail sits amongst 600 acres of woodland and is a diverse trail of more than 20 miles. It is free to bike, hike, run and walk, and is pet-friendly, as long as the pet is on a leash. Horseback riding is also permitted.

PORC and UWF recently signed an agreement making PORC the West Campus Trail’s “stewards.” According to PORC’s Facebook page, their goal is “to have an ‘epic’ trail system at UWF for generations to come.” PORC also states that this agreement will ensure that they will “have a seat at the table when it comes to planning, enhancement and protection of the trails.”

The UWF West Campus Trail sits behind Parking Lot H and runs through 600 acres of woodland. The trail course extends more than 20 miles and is free to the public. (Map courtesy of uwf.edu)

In mid-April, PORC came out for their first maintenance meeting, and it did not go unnoticed. Graduating senior and finance major Tim Wenger runs the trail four to five times per week with his cross-country team; he said he is thankful for the work PORC has done. “They removed a lot of brush and made the trails wider… it’s nice,” Wenger said. In the four years Wenger has been running the trails with the cross country team, he said he has seen the trails trimmed and preserved only two to three times.

Though Wenger runs the trails several times a week, he said bikers also rule the trail — especially on the weekends. However, this does not bother Wenger; he said he wishes more people would use the trails. “I think having trails on campus is an awesome resource, and I think many people don’t know about it,” he said. Wenger suggests that PORC put more signs on campus to raise students’ awareness. “I hope PORC can make the trails more known.”

Indeed, PORC’s goal is to make the trails more well-known to students. PORC states they will work to involve students by hosting trail activities, such as races, rides and demos. They want to make the trails “a part of UWF’s culture – and that makes [it] hard to pave over with a parking lot.”

Pensacola Off-Road Cyclist Inc. (PORC) was created in March 2000 and is a member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. PORC is open for all-ages and is a representative of UWF’s mountain-bike trails. (Photo courtesy of porc.org)

The group’s first maintenance effort was open to the public. That night, PORC posted a public thank you on social media, stating that the trail maintenance was a success. The group expressed a thank you to members from Pensacola Naval Air Station and promised more opportunities to help in the future.

To find out more about PORC, and to learn about the next scheduled maintenance, you can follow them of Facebook here. To learn more about he trail’s policies and regulations, click here, or call the UWF Recreation Center at 850-474-2580.

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