Warren Wilson College’s Work Program Office introduced a new work crew, the Trail Rangers, after both student caucus and staff forum approved the proposal last year. The crew originated per the Building and Grounds’ Committee’s decision to enforce a trail permit system, which at this time is not in place.
On April 1 of this year, it was decided that Terry Payne would serve as crew supervisor. The crew’s headquarters are located in the Public Safety office. The crew will be responsible for trail maintenance, invasive control, trash pick-up, and natural history education in coordination with the already-existing Forestry Crew. Training, input, and guidance will come from the Forest Manager Shawn Swartz. The crew is to be comprised of six upperclasspersons and operate from sunup until sundown.
As outlined in a proposal drafted on March 10, 2011, the crew will enforce preexisting rules and regulations, primarily on the River Trail, which is the most heavily used trail by off-campus individuals. The permit system will be further developed and is expected to be enacted in one year’s time.
On March 7, 2010 an individual unrelated to the college was seen masturbating near the river. This incident was reported to both the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department and Warren Wilson College’s Office of Public Safety. The individual was not apprehended.
The incident started campus-wide conversation and, in response to the incident, then-forestry manager Dave Ellum asked the Warren Wilson community for suggestions on how to increase trail safety. It was widely agreed that a permit system be created and enforced.
Ellum served on the Building and Grounds committee that crafted the trail permit system. Ellum proposed the system to student caucus, staff forum and the Work Program Advisory Committee. All governance outlets approved the measure.
In an April 2010 article, then-Editor-in-Chief of The Echo Gabriel Sistare quoted Dave Ellum as saying, “I am worried that Warren Wilson is going to be the dog-walking park for Asheville.” Sistare also referenced a survey in which 40 percent of Asheville residents considered Warren Wilson’s trails public property.
It was decided by the Building and Grounds Committee that in order to reinforce the permit system, an enforcement crew must be created. This proposed crew materialized as the Trail Rangers.
Terry Payne had proposed to the Building and Grounds Committee a similar system enforcing limitations for non-college individuals in 2008, but it was rejected.