Adopt-A-Trail Program

Join the City to beautify its trails with an Adopt-A-Trail partnership. This program is designed for volunteers to help maintain sections of the Columbia Trail System.  Your family, business, faith community or civic organization can partner with the City to continue to beautify our City through its trails. 

Two men posing for a picture on a trail

What is the Adopt-A-Trail program?  

The Adopt-A-Trail program is a relatively new program where citizens can adopt a 1/4 mile of a trail to help remove invasive plant species, such as Honeysuckle, and can assist in the beautification of our trails.   Volunteers interested in this program are encouraged to sign up for the Adopt-A-Trail class  to learn more about proper tree care and trail maintenance as well as the varying species of invasive plant species and how to remove them properly.

What is my commitment as an adopter?

The basic responsibility of adopters is to keep their section of trail invasive (Honeysuckle) free.  Additionally adopters may want to enhance their ¼ mile section of trail with ecologically appropriate plantings.  P&R staff understand that Honeysuckle removal is not easy or a one-time deal.  Staff will be available to give advice and training. 

First year adopters will need to focus on removal of large plants.  This will involve hand saws and chemical application to kill the invasive shrubs.  Plants removed will be piled and left in place.  Subsequent years will be easier with hand pulling of young invasive plants.   Adopters may want to work with park staff to determine clever ways to enhance the beauty of their section of trail with spring bulbs or native flowering shrubs/trees. 

Beautification enhancements will need to be approved by park staff based on the section of trail.  Trail sections that are ecologically pristine lend themselves to native improvements, whereas trail sections that run through areas that have been disturbed have more leeway for plantings.

What does it cost for me to adopt a trail section?

There is no cost to adopt a trail.  The City of Columbia will pay for the marker identifying you as an adopter on the existing trail mile markers.  The city will provide Tordon or Round-up for invasive removal projects. Some adopters may incur expenses if they would like to add plants beyond what the city provides. 

How much time do I need to commit?

Time will depend on the trail section, but volunteer adopters are strongly encouraged to spend time working on their trail no less than once a month, April to November.  There may Two men planting trees along a trail be a need for initial work days to be fairly involved regarding Honeysuckle removal. Experience has shown that after the initial large shrubs are removed, follow up work is much less labor intensive.  Regular maintenance will improve the appearance of your trail and make caring for it much easier! 

Can I adopt more than one section of trail?

We ask that adopters care for only one section of trail at a time.   If an adopter is successful after one or two years and is interested in more sections, staff can certainly discuss the options.

Do I need to have gardening experience?

A green thumb is helpful but not required!  City staff can provide many resources for adopters.

What if I am unable to care for my section of the trail?

Each year there are some adopters who are unable to fulfill their commitments because of moving, health, or another life change.  If the lack of maintenance is short-term, park staff can assist the adopter.  If you anticipate a longer absence please consider giving up your trail section so another volunteer can care for it. 

How is a trail section defined?

Trail sections will be defined on mile marker posts.   An adoption plaque, stating that the following quarter mile is adopted by your organization, will be placed at both ends of the ¼ mile section announcing the adopter from both directions.

Available Trail Sections on the Columbia Trail System 

Training sessions for new volunteers are held twice a year. For more information, contact Volunteer Programs at 874-7499 or volunteer@CoMo.govcreate new email.