Pouring hot tar in July isn’t most people’s idea of fun, but a group of volunteers turned out Tuesday morning to do just that in an effort to keep the region’s bicycle and walking trail in good condition.
“I think we are on our second crack,” Dan McCarthy told the Tribune as he watched another volunteer use a “tar pot” to seal cracks in a portion of the Nickel Plate Trail outside the town of Miami.
McCarthy, who is from Rochester, is communications director for the Nickel Plate Trail, Inc.
On Sunday, he put out a call through group’s Facebook page letting followers know he planned to be in the area with the tar pot and asked for others to join him.
“We are just an all volunteer group,” he said as he watched Tom Bennett operate the small machine that heats tar to around 300 degrees and drop it into the cracks in the asphalt.
Five years ago, MacCarthy said, the entire 45-mile length of the trail that runs from Kokomo to Rochester saw similar treatment, getting all cracks filled.
“So now five years later we are starting again,” he said.
Apart from a small patch up in Rochester, the area down around Miami in the southern part of Miami County is the first to see extensive work.
While McCarthy, Bennett and Dave Campbell worked with the tar pot, Alicia Rodda and another group worked further up the trail cutting back branches, clearing cracks in preparation for the tar, and spraying weed killer.
“We love the trail, that’s why we do it,” said Rodda, who lives in Peru and walks the trail frequently.
Ultimately, McCarthy said, he wants to see similar groups spring up along portions of the 45 miles.
“I’d like people to adopt a section of our trail,” he said.
Because it spans such a distance, those groups, McCarthy said, could cut back the branches he called “face slappers” and communicate problem areas to the larger group if more extensive maintenance is needed.
Until then, he said, he continues to organize work groups through the group’s Facebook page and website.
That is the best way to volunteer, he said.
The website, at www.nickelplatetrail.org, has a volunteer link where visitors can fill out a form. Others can also communicate with the group through the Nickel Plate Trail – Indiana Facebook page.
Future volunteer opportunities are also sent out via email for those who have signed up for the trail’s news letter.