Paved path at Wakefield Park: Zachary Korff’s film highlights the effects of mountain bikers riding on wet trails.
Photos by Lauren Young
Zachary Korff, a 13-year-old Irving Middle School student, recently created a video bringing attention to the effects of
mountain bikers riding on wet trails. Zachary was acknowledged by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) and Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) for his work on the film. YRE is a foundation aimed at those aged 11-21 to address issues in the environment through journalism: Contests are hosted each year for video, photograph and article submissions.
The video Zachary made discusses how bike tires tear up trails when it has recently rained and trails are muddy. This causes severe erosion to the surrounding ecosystem. The bikers create puddles of built up water on the trail, rip of the creek beds, create ruts and disrupt the balance of the ecosystem.
WAKEFIELD PARK, located in Annandale, is highlighted as an example of trails that have erosion as a result of biking in wet conditions. Zachary compares the trails at this park to those at Fountainhead Park in Woodbridge. Wakefield does not have the sufficient funds to maintain trails as Fountainhead does, and as a result the paths are not protected as well. With the funding Fountainhead receives, they close off trails with gates and signs when conditions are not agreeable for recreation, and have a hotline that says if trails are open, which Zachary displays in the video. He tells viewers in his video, “If Wakefield’s trails are to survive, riders need to steer clear of damaged trails and the park needs more funding.”
The NVRPA was very appreciative of the work Zachary did to raise awareness. Paul Gilbert, executive director of the NVRPA, stated that, “Zachary’s video has raised awareness among the mountain bike community that riding in muddy conditions damages the trails and the environment. We are honored that he highlighted the good practices at Fountainhead Regional Park.”
Creating this video involved several weekends of filming, interviewing and editing in order to ensure the requirements were met for the YRE contest. Zachary says making this film was, “a good use of time and a good challenge for my brain. I’m worried about the environment and not happy with what is happening to the trails.” He is an avid mountain biker who started riding the trails in 2008, so trail erosion due to this hobby is a matter he feels strongly about. Jay Korff, Zachary’s father, said that his son’s “interest in giving a voice to this issue pushed him through all the hard work.” He also said, “We talk a lot in our household about the critical role that storytellers, public policy makers, advocates and educators play in the stewardship of our environment. [Zachary’s] hope is that his story will add to the chorus of voices calling on riders to stay off wet trails.”
RIDERS HELP MITIGATE erosion by not riding or hiking when trails are muddy, and instead riding on paved paths. This prevents further damage until work can be done or the trails dry up to regular consistency. Zachary believes that increased funding, trail cleanups and trail building are viable solutions to this issue. He intends for this video to make a difference in the communities of all who watch the film. “I hope the video is shared so more people know what’s occurring. This doesn’t just apply to Wakefield; it applies to all trails being destroyed by the ecosystem. People can note this in trails around them. I want people to be aware.”