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Call for presentations at the 2015 Symposium

To help us develop an exciting and motivating program for the Symposium, we invite attendees to submit ideas for presentations in support of the Symposium’s theme, "Solutions for Success." Proposals can be submitted for both national and international presentations.

All presentation proposals must be received by email by FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2015 to be eligible for review.

Download both documents for complete instructions: Call for Presentations and the Call for Presentations Proposal Form...

This Symposium features a new partnership with the Professional Trailbuilders Association (PTBA). In addition to offering Sustainable Trails Workshops and their world-famous Outdoor Trade Show and Demonstration Area, they will offer a Technical Track of Concurrent Sessions within the Program, featuring solutions-based topics. PTBA is seeking presentation proposals from leaders in the trail building industry. Their general list of topic areas has been incorporated in the Call for Presentations. Submit proposals through our same process.

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Types of Presentations

There are several types of presentations you can propose, each with a different time allotment depending on the depth of material you would like to incorporate (see paragraphs below for details):

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions are 1.25-hour informational talks that can be given by one presenter or a panel (panels must be limited to three people for time effectiveness and in order to qualify for Continuing Educational Units (CEUs)). Keep the time limit in mind as you prepare your proposal – be realistic as to what you can accomplish in the time provided. Click here to see examples of past presentations from the 2013 Symposium...

Core Tracks

Core Tracks are designed to allow presenters to explore subjects in greater depth than is possible in a 1.25-hour Concurrent Session. Each Core Track module is a minimum of 3 hours (including breaks), but Core Track offerings can be extended to 6 hours (including breaks). This will allow ample time for in-depth presentations, discussions, examples, practice, and fieldwork (if applicable). The total available Core Tracks will be allocated based on the presentations selected.

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Poster Presentations

Posters will be displayed in a common area in the Exhibit Hall throughout the Symposium. Individuals displaying posters will also have an opportunity to share their "story" and to meet with interested attendees at designated times during the Symposium. Presenters should plan to attend the Symposium in person and are responsible for the shipping, construction, and assembling of their own posters on site. Shipping information will be provided to you upon acceptance of your presentation. Presenters who want to display posters at the Symposium are required to submit proposals that respond the approprite items in the Call for Presentations Proposal Form.


Trail Talks

(a.k.a. Coffee and Pastries with an Expert)
We invite presenters with a special interest in various trail related topics to lead a "Trail Talk" session. Leaders will convene a topic table and facilitate an informal discussion and exchange of ideas. Attendees can also enjoy coffee and pastries during these informal early morning networking sessions. To submit a proposal for a Trail Talk, be sure to respond to the appropriate section of the Call for Presentations Proposal Form.

Theme ~ Solutions for Success

We know that trails are the right solution for making more livable communities and for managing public lands. But how do we get from concept to success? The Symposium programs will explore the many pathways to success for all types of trails, from cities to the backcountry. Read more about the theme Solutions for Success...

Preferred Topics for Presentations

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We're looking for “Solutions for Success” in key areas such as (these are NOT listed in priority order):

1. Trails in our communities: Developing trails for active living and healthy lifestyles, active transportation, linking neighborhoods, working with developers, energizing schools and parents, creative planning and zoning, and improving economies.

2. New products, techniques, and services: Analyzing and using better solutions for common trail issues such as maintenance, signs, safety, outdoor learning, and encouraging use.

3. Funding and fund raising: Identifying appropriate funding sources, grant writing, event planning, donor development, and creative ideas for funding, such as crowdfunding.

4. Leveraging staff resources: Partnering with non-profits and volunteer groups; making effective use of Scouts, church groups, home owners' associations, etc.; designing and managing suitable projects for them; and raising the skill level of volunteers.

5. Nurturing non-profit support groups: Sustainable funding, effective boards, successful partnerships, organizing for advocacy, and developing volunteers.

6. Effective policies for trail management (operations and maintenance): Identifying real and potential needs, determining how policies can help, communicating with the public, negotiating and resolving conflicts, and enforcing decisions.

7. Designing and building better trails: Learning the best solutions for developing safe and appealing routes for all types of trail activities; hands-on learning and field sessions are helpful to supplement classroom instruction.

8. Trails for all interests and abilities: Effective use of alternatives including water trails, motorized trails, winter activities, educational opportunities, and creative solutions for accessible trails.

9. Applying technology to trail management: Monitoring resources, counting trail users, remote data acquisition, producing maps and trail guides, and creative use of handheld devices for planners as well as visitors.

The Professional Trailbuilders Association is seeking presentation proposals from leaders in the trail building industry. Specifically, they are looking for solution-based topics in the following areas:

10. Successful Trail Contracting: Identifying how to effectively survey and delineate potential trail projects, create workplans that are realistic and easy to follow, develop reasonable cost estimates, bid projects realistically, and evaluate projects as they are being built without causing undue burden to the parties involved.

11. Hybrid Contracting: How can a hybrid contracting model promote the best use of limited available resources. Where and when is a hybrid model most cost efficient and where is it not. Show case studies of best practices and identify in detail why it worked in that situation.

12. Working with Volunteer Groups: Determining where and when volunteer groups serve the highest and best purpose in a trail project and where problems can arise. Show effective models and case studies for effective Volunteer Group use and identify and show in detail how the choices that were made created success.

13. Successful Public/Private Partnership: Public/Private partnerships can lead to the least cost for the most public benefit and have worked to develop some of the country's best trail systems. Show examples of success and how they came about. Provide a detailed plan for others to follow from the public sector AND private sector.

14. Public Land Management: The changing Federal State and Local landscapes have changed drastically over the last few years. Help us to identify what has changed and how it affects the trail building industry. How must land managers and the rest of the trail building industry adapt to these changes? Identify how we can and must move forward to address the trail maintenance backlog with resources available to public land managers and their partners.

15. Technical Construction, Design and Maintenance Solutions: Show the cutting edge technique, design, or tool that you developed to solve a particularly tough trail problem. Get into the details! We want sessions that go beyond the Trails 101 level and get into the nitty gritty of how to build trail effectively in tough environments, how to design a great trail structure, how to manage contracts whose design conflicts with the reality on the ground, how to manage water on the trail tread in wet environments, or any number of issues.

16. Specific User Group Trail Design, Construction, Maintenance: Show the key design elements and construction techniques for successful user-specific trails for OHV, Equestrian, Wilderness, Mountain Biking, Hiking, etc.

Factors Contributing to Presentation Acceptance

The Program Committee is particularly seeking presentations that will enable participants actually to use or apply the ideas or techniques in practice back home. Hands-on practice, how-to demonstrations, and actual fieldwork using the tools or techniques will be emphasized in the selection process for both Core Tracks and Concurrent Sessions. And finally, be sure your proposal addresses the Symposium’s Theme: Solutions for Success.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

CEUs will be available to attendees. THE CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSAL FORM MUST BE COMPLETELY FILLED OUT FOR A SESSION TO BE CONSIDERED FOR CEUs. Note: not all sessions that apply for CEUs will qualify. Poster Presentations and Trail Talks are not eligible for CEUs.

PLEASE NOTE: We anticipate well over 150 presenters. Due to the large number of proposals expected we will not be able to accept every proposal, and we may ask some presentation proposers with similar topics to combine and create a new Concurrent Session or a Core Track session.

Submission Instructions

Click here to see examples of past presentations from the 2013 Symposium...


Symposium Sponsors




New benefit for members


American Trails

P.O. Box 491797
Redding, CA 96049-1797
(530) 605-4395