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Training and education

October 23, 2006 NTTP Meeting Notes

October 23, 2006 - Davenport, Iowa

Photo: putting notes on a posterboard
Steve Elkinton facilitating the visioning session


  • Dana Bell, NOHVCC
  • Roger Bell, Professional Trailbuilders Association
  • Nathan Caldwell, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Mark Conley, USDA Forest Service
  • Bill Cook, USFS Trails Unlimited
  • Christopher Douwes, FHWA
  • Steve Elkinton, NPS
  • Ann Hill, BLM National Training Center
  • Woody Keene, Professional Trailbuilders Association and Trail Dynamics
  • Patti Klein, Bureau of Land Management
  • Scott Linnenburger, IMBA
  • Stuart Macdonald, State Trail Administrators
  • Deb Salt, BLM
  • Mary Van Buren, Tread Lightly!
  • Gary Werner, Partnership for National Trails

Introductions and reports on training activities

Christopher Douwes:

FHWA was able to sign a new coop agreement with American Trails; revised, renewed. Will be less emphasis on UTAP so they can focus on other things. SAFETEA-LU allows State to pay for UTAP as well as other training.

Gary Werner:

Held two successful training workshops. One on national historic trails and one on preservation of trail resources and acquisition of land. Coming soon in Duluth will be the 11th Annual Conference for national scenic and historic trails.

Steve Elkinton:

NPS also providing some funds for NTTP. Steve Hastings is very interested in helping with competencies. New report on National Historic and Scenic Trails: Accomplishments 2001-2005. For the national parks there will be a cutback in budgets for trails. Park Services Facility management group wants all roads to be fixed before money spent on trails. Management in flux at NPS. Many new directors. MOU expired last January being replaced by new 10-year agreement.

Patti Klein:

Replaces Mark Goldbach on NTTP team and some other duties.

Deb Salt:

Coordinates National Landscape Conservation System, monuments, wilderness areas, national trails. New publication: National Scenic and Historic Trails Strategy and Work Plan with close to 40 action items for next few years.

One of the actions is training development. Working with USFS and NPS on needs assessment for training for the national trails. Extending invitation to fellow agencies for trail training needs assessment. Gearing up to kick off this initiative now.

Woody Keene:

Working a lot in the private sector which helps subsidize public sector work. Private developers are more likely to hire professionals to "do it right" because they're selling a product vs. public sector will award to lowest bidder whether qualified or not. Developers are looking for better quality trails because it is part of their marketing. New members coming into PTBA. Trail building as an industry is growing. Mike Passo will be working for PTBA to organize conferences.

Mary van Buren:

Just took over Tread Trainer program. Launched online awareness training course. Working on marketing strategies. Getting good feedback. Will pilot master course to coincide with Outdoor Ethics.

Scott Linnenburger:

IMBA is moving from sustainable design to leadership development and capacity building. Bringing trail management training on with accompanying trail management book. Received a National Forest Foundation grant to work with gateway communities on sustainable recreation-based economies. Doing ten visits with over 100 participants at each. Plan to do 15 community visits in 2007. Writing new book with funding from FHWA for 2007 to focus on management of mountain bike trails. Forged partnership with REI to have 10,000 volunteer days a year by 2010. In partnership in CO with BLM, linking bicycle groups to cooperate and put together operating plans to get better trails in the ground. Also celebrating end of first year of partnerships with NPS.

Bill Cook:

Forest Service Trails Unlimited is providing training on a variety of skills through intergovernmental agreements rather than contracts.

Dana Bell:

NOHVCC is seeing more demand for leadership workshops. Working a lot with local groups on OHV management and association development workshops. Placing a lot of emphasis on partnerships with state and federal agencies. New this year are workshops to implement USFS trail management rules.

Mark Conley:

USDA Forest Service Byways resource center is working on putting training initiatives under way. Managing other needs such as the Byways 2021 initiative ( Working with other groups to try to determine what needs to be improved. National Scenic Byways conference coming up in May in Baltimore. See and Will host National Scenic and Historic byways conference in Duluth.

Nathan Caldwell:

Conference at NCTC successful &endash; trails prominently featured in breakout sessions. Many non-profits, State DOTs showed up. Hope to get more FWS people involved in training and trails. Agency can spend up to 5% of their funds on trails. Have been filling up slots in TMP course. Travel and training budgets shrinking. Some personal goals are to expand USFWS participation / involvement with trails. One reason there wasn't larger participation in this conference is due to lack of training budgets. Focus on other large efforts. 5% of funding can go to training, part of which pays Nathan's salary. It also can be used to fund maintenance of existing trails but not to fund new trails.

Jaime Schwartz:

USFS has new head of recreation, Jim Bedwell, landscape architect. USFS may be facing up to 40% budget cut across most programs. Forests have signed on to four-year schedule to complete travel management plans. Signed 40-member cooperative agreement for shooting sports.

Facilitating Statewide Training: Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative

Stuart Macdonald discussed NTTP efforts to promote COTI as a model for statewide training. Gave presentation to State Trail Administrators at their meeting the previous week.

Kim Frederick, COTI board member asked how can COTI support NTTP and work together? Walt Horner is new Executive Director of COTI. Working closely with "V OUtdoors" online clearinghouse of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Provides both training opportunities and volunteer opportunities. Crew Leadership Training workbook is available: a compilation of the best existing training materials. Assessment and review are built into the training programs. Crew leaders trained in the program are required to do actual training.

Scott notes that in western Colorado greatly increased capability of volunteers. Able to run several trail projects at a time because they now have 30 crew leaders who could really keep people safe and happy with the volunteer work.

COTI developing new courses in trail maintenance, riparian and site restoration, and noxious weed treatment. Has a great curriculum development committee.

For states to improve training benefits, even those that don't have a statewide volunteer group can use the COTI model. But success requires that land management agencies are engaged. Building capacity to use increasing RTP funding is a key goal. American Trails contract with FHWA specifically directs us to work with states to support project sponsors with better training to enable them to more effectively use RTP funds.

Gary asked how we could measure success with outreach of COTI programs. Big goal is to help local project sponsors do a better. Scott asked how long it took to get agencies together. Kim said it took several years. Scott says that NTTP needs to help push efforts like COTI from above. Kim said that Nevada has been using COTI materials. COTI also working informally with Alaska and John Knudson of Utah wants to work with COTI in Utah. Scott notes there are a lot of states that don't have the volunteer capacity that Colorado has. Other states can use COTI as their leader for training . COTI brings together various groups who are doing their own training. Wants to set up regional training centers.

Outreach and Marketing Committee Report

Goal: focus on marketing training, not on marketing NTTP. Why not call it the National Trails Training Clearinghouse instead of "partnership"?

Update brochure to emphasize "Find the training, find the resources, share your training." Start every message to trails community with "are you looking for training?

If you had one sentence to describe NTTP: "find out about training and tell us about training." Or "It's a place where you can find out about trails training, and a place to share your training and resources."

Do feature articles on training and the experts who are providing it.

Do an update on COTI and its work with states and crew leader offerings.

Kim suggests looking at "Voutdoors" website as an example of communicating with trails people.

Training and Competencies Committee Report

Steve Elkinton presented; 14 people participated. Woody Keene: "Trails are more complicated than rocket science."

What do we mean by competencies? Need to define the scope. Training and education is scattered and fragmented throughout the trails community. Training is very specific for some professions like law enforcement or fire fighting. Trails are responsible for a wide variety of things but not a clear path to achieve competence.

Handed out a set of grids of categories, skills, and levels of advancement. Goal is to create a similar set of specific trail-related skills at various levels and match it with existing training that is offered throughout the country. Tie in with offerings from organizations like IMBA, AHS, and NOHVCC.

Gather all the skills that are out there, what level of expertise they are operating at, and identify which courses are already filling that need. Then identify gaps in training and encourage groups and individual experts to develop new training to fill the needs.

Goal is to professionalize trail work and earn more respect for trails and greenways as career fields. Get new people like college students and young people involved in trails and get them trained

For follow up:

1. Ann and Deb will find BLM discussion of skills from previous research.

2. Jamie Schwartz will take the master list to the next level of development on technical skills. Stuart will collect the resource management, organization building, and other skills that are also essential to trails. Hope to get skill definitions from IMBA, COTI, and other organizations.

3. Make all this available on the website with links to other resources and material on skills and competencies.

Website Discussion

NTTP website: we need to get partners and supporters to provide more links to

Asking agencies and organizations to add more links to NTTP pages such as resource topics.

Pam gave report on website statistics (see text following minutes).

BLM Interagency Training Course

Ann Hill presented status of the BLM's course "Trail Management: Plans, Projects, and People." Understanding the big picture with trails programs was seen as the critical need for the course. She discussed the many elements and activities included in the week-long course. BLM is looking for another partner to manage the training.

Scott suggested that if only 30 people a year are trained then no one will want to fund it. Need is probably to fund 3,000 people a year.

Christopher: we have to bring the training to the people in the states.

Steve noted the NPS problems in funding any staff to attend week-long training that requires travel.

Gary wanted to know how much it costs to put on the training. BLM responded that it can't supply figures, but it is not the cost but their lack of staffing that is the problem. Attendees don't pay tuition as BLM collects funding from agencies directly. Ann will be leaving BLM soon but can talk to anyone interested in potentially taking over the management of the course.

Pam asked for a round of applause for Ann and all the work she has done. American Trails recognized Ann with a National Trails Award for "Trail Sharing."

Discussion on potential funding for an interagency trails training center.

Discussion on various difficulties of federal funding for training.

Agencies are often using contractors for training rather than agency staff.

Pam handed out descriptions of workshops that are being sponsored by American Trails on various topics.

Accomplishments of NTTP

American Trails put together a fairly long PowerPoint presentation on NTTP goals, activities, and accomplishments. Attendees at the previous NTTP meeting had requested a report. Stuart will post the NTTP Accomplishments presentation on the website.


Steve expressed concerns that people aren't held accountable. NTTP lacks a charter, for instance. He has some proposals for different models for operating NTTP to be discussed at another time.

Next Meetings

March 3-11 is Trailbuilders Conference - Probably too many events scheduled already and several people indicated they couldn't attend. Plan is to have a short update meeting for anyone interested at that time.

June is Great Outdoors Week - Attendance has been low in DC the last two years. It may be that not as many people are coming to DC for events.

Kansas City suggested as a good future location.

Gary feels that we shouldn't tag the NTTP meetings onto other meetings when people don't have the time to really make decisions on important issues. Suggests a stand-alone NTTP meeting.

Decision to hold next meeting in Salt Lake City, February 21-22, 2007. Patti Klein and BLM will host.

Meeting adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald with additions by Steve Elkinton.

Website Statistics Report for

Our web traffic continues to grow! In July, 2006 we reached our all-time high of 113,447 visits for the month!

  • Approximately 39% of American Trails web traffic is directed towards NTTP and its resource pages.
  • American Trails received 270,007 page views in the month of August, 2006. Of that, an estimated 105,302 were requests for NTTP branded pages.
  • lists 11,123 external links (inlinks) to pages or documents within the and domains.
  • There are over 1,500 articles, documents, and studies contained in the resource pages.
  • In the last three months, we have added 41 new documents and PDF files to the website technical assistance library to address trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, management, accessibility, and safety.
  • We have added 161 events to the online Training Calendar for 2006.

Listed below are the top 30 NTTP resource pages viewed in September, 2006. This is taken from a list of over 200 pages that are viewed by the trails community at least 100 times per month.

No. of Page Views - Page or File

2034 /calendar.html

1909 /resources/

1673 /resources/consultants/

1173 /resources/trailbuilding/

772 /resources/trailbuilding/docs/altatrailsurface.pdf

751 /resources/info/

607 /resources/railtrails/

599 /resources/trailbuilding/docs/montgomerytrail2005.pdf

537 /resources/economics/

504 /resources/wildlife/competitioneq.html

490 /resources/accessible/

489 /resources/managemaintain/

477 /resources/info/tools1.html

462 /resources/info/tools5.html

437 /resources/info/tools8.html

436 /resources/trailbuilding/docs/sharedpath14.pdf

436 /resources/trailbuilding/docs/bmpmanual2004.pdf

431 /resources/info/tools3.html

429 /resources/info/glossary.html

420 /resources/planning/docs/sandiegocotrailsplan.pdf

408 /resources/planning/

401 /resources/info/tools9.html

384 /resources/info/tools6.html

377 /resources/planning/docs/albertareccorridors.pdf

363 /resources/fedfund/

357 /resources/structures/

348 /resources/railtrails/docs/sullivansgulchrwt.pdf

346 /resources/trans/

339 /resources/info/tools.doc

332 /resources/planning/orcreatingconnections.pdf

327 /resources/benefits/


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