Why the Trails need your Help!
Trails are a vital and continual thread, literally woven through our public lands and the experiences we create there. Unfortunately, our trails are often taken for granted. Unlike nearly every other public resource we enjoy, trails are primarily a product of volunteer labor and financial resources. More people than ever are discovering our trails, and trail building and maintenance has not kept up with the increased use.
The amount of behind-the-scenes work needed to create and maintain your favorite local trail can be staggering! There are constant resource strains, as well as financial and public policy considerations, which if not addressed, threaten the existence of many of our favorite trails. A 2013 Government Accountability Office report found that The Forest Service has more miles of trail than it can maintain on its own, resulting in a persistent maintenance backlog with a range of negative impacts.
There is a perception that trails just exist. It is important to understand that trails are critical infrastructure requiring consistent, ongoing funding and maintenance. Without that, they will simply disappear or degrade over time. Trails face year-round issues of trail maintenance backlogs and lack of adequate trail staffing and funding on Federal, state, and local properties.
Volunteers are often held up as a way to solve the backlog, but they often come with their own management issues. Strategies must be developed to appropriately utilize volunteer, youth corps, and professional trail builder resources to help manage our public land resources.
The White Mountain Trail Collective (WMTC) is a Nonprofit organization that is working to pull together resources from partners to tackle these issues head on. By mobilizing like minded individuals and organizations WMTC is bringing vital resources to address the problem in the White Mountain National Forest.
WMTC is orchestrating project and volunteer management for on-the-ground efforts, streamlining communication to keep all trail maintainers in-touch and informed, establishing external communications to raise public awareness and obtain funding from all available sources, and managing data entry and administration to measure results and make intelligent, effective adjustments to the collaborative strategies.
This infrastructure will help focus individual and club maintainer’s efforts thereby compounding the overall efficacy of their work as well as reducing competition over funding. By freeing clubs and partner organizations of the administrative burden, providing a more strategic allocation and interface with resources, and speaking with a unified voice, trail stewardship in the White Mountains can continue to thrive for generations while protecting the trails and preserving the legacy.
Ways you can help:
- Becoming informed on trails and the threats to the trails is one way folks can help. Helping to spread that knowledge will increase awareness and focus on the issues.
- Like and Share!!! Following WMTC on Social Media helps us promote trail work on social media. Sharing our projects and work will help not only inform others but help us raise needed funds!
- Volunteer with a Trail Club! There are over 15 trail clubs that volunteer on the White Mountain National Forest. Each year, Spring through Fall, these groups set out to clean up and tackle deferred maintenance on the trails.
- GIVE! Without funding none of the maintenance needed would get accomplished. Funding is needed to mobilize volunteers and professional trail crews, provide training, necessary tools and equipment, essential project management, add capacity to the on-going work already being done, as well as provide other resources needed to ensure the sustainability of trails for years to come.
To find out more and to get involved please visit: www.wmtrailcollective.org
Thank you to the White Mountains Trail Collective and the other organizations that preserve and maintain the trails we love.
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Thank you to Melanie Luce for providing the content for this blog post.