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Training and education

November 18-19, 2008 NTTP Meeting Notes

Minutes of National Trails Training Partnership
Little Rock, Arkansas, at the National Trails Symposium

November 18 - 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


  • Danny Basch, Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Roger Bell, Professional Trailbuilders Assoc.
  • John Beneke, AR State Parks - Trails Program
  • Walter Bready, Gainesville State College
  • Nathan Caldwell, US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Jeff Caplinger, North Little Rock Parks & Recreation
  • Lisa Cashel, Tahoe Rim Trail Association
  • Tom Chamberland, USA Corps of Engineers - New England Dist.
  • Ann Colson, Connecticut Forest and Park Assoc.
  • David Certain, New Mexico State Parks - Trails Program
  • Kara Deutsch, NPS - Delaware Water Gap NRA
  • Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration
  • Steve Elkinton, National Park Service
  • Bob Finch, Outdoor Stewardship Institute
  • William Gibson, Bureau of Land Management - AZ State Office
  • John Favro, Healthy as a Horse Network
  • Jan Hancock, Hancock Resources LLC
  • James Heaney, Selma to Montgomery NHT
  • Waimakalani Iona, Ala Kahakai Trail Assoc.
  • Hui Jung, Urban Environment Research Institute, South Korea
  • Woody Keen, Trail Dynamics (plus IMBA and PTBA)
  • Maura Lewiecki, Sites Southwest, LLC
  • Scott Linnenburger, International Mountain Bicycling Assoc.
  • Cam Lockwood, USDA FS - Trails Unlimited Enterprise Unit
  • Ike Lyon, USA Corps of Engineers, Alabama River Lakes
  • Stuart Macdonald, National Assoc. of State Trails Administrators
  • Sandi McFarland, USDA FS - Nez Perce National Historic Trail
  • Kevin Meyer, National Park Service
  • Maurice (Moses) Mondary, New Mexico State Parks - Federal Grants
  • Matt Osborne, KY Tourism, Arts and Heritage - Adventure Tourism
  • Mike Passo, Professional Trailbuilders Assoc.
  • Jaime Schmidt, USDA FS - National Trail Information Coordinator
  • Jamie Schwatrz, USDA Forest Service - Washington, DC
  • Toni Thompson, Na Ala Hele
  • Bert Turner, Central Arkansas Master Naturalist
  • Mary Van Buren, Tread Lightly!
  • Richard Vonnegut, Indiana Trails Fund
  • Patrick Walker, Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (WA)
  • Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trail System
  • John Z Wetmore, TV producer, Perils for Pedestrians
  • Loren Winnick, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation

Stuart Macdonald, NTTP Program Manager for American Trails, opened with comments of the day’s earlier events/workshops (Nat. Trails Symposium). Would like to continue the promotion of training, learning and sharing of ideas in gathering a 2009 task list.


Stuart introduced Bob Finch of Colorado-based Outdoor Stewardship Institute. Bob presented slides on OSI, which resulted from the merger of Colorado Outdoor Stewardship Initiative with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. (see ) has three main goals: training, conservation leadership, and land stewardship. Education for crews. Close to 40 organizations and agencies have participated in developing OSI programs and curricula. Beyond classes and modules for trail skills, OSI emphasizes training "citizen stewards" who can sustain work over long periods. After January, see their upgraded website at "Technical assistance and stewardship planning" opens the door to create an expanded volunteer program. They plan to emphasize pro-active planning to plug volunteers into specific groups of projects. OSI hopes to continue efforts to work with states to promote the "train-the-trainer" model.


Stuart gave out brochures with details about NTTP and training, and gave an updated presentation on NTTP goals and accomplishments. The overall mission is to promote education that helps people build better trails. Main goals are:
- Encourage cooperation on training efforts
- Identify needs and gaps in existing training
- Promote research to improve trails education
- Facilitate training needed
- Promote models for statewide training
- Help States bring training to local project sponsors
- Develop trails curricula for college-level courses

He also emphasized the online clearinghouse of training and resources at A key tool is the web-based calendar and resource service receiving over 1 million visits a year. Besides the constantly updated calendar are searches by skill competency, best practices ("Cool Trail Solutions"), and new resources for water trails, accessible trails, and many other materials. Stuart asked that people send him news and training events, as well as new resources that can be added to the website. He also asked for organizations to link to NTTP training opportunities from their own websites.


Participants each introduced themselves, their affiliation, and current work or concerns.

  • Walter Bready (GA), Gainesville State College-- he is GA State Trails Education Specialist who does an annual Trail School to build crew leadership skills.
  • Patrick Walker (WA), Chelan-Douglas Land Trust -- from a land trust.
  • Waimakalani Iona (HI), Ala Kahakai Trail Assoc. -- place-based educational and service-learning in communities along the Ala Kahakai NHT in Hawaii.
  • James Heaney (AL), Selma to Montgomery NHT -- special needs of senior volunteers who themselves made history. Outreach to the next generation.
  • Nathan Caldwell (DC), US Fish & Wildlife Service -- He described the Basic Trail Management course at NCTC, now twice a year, maybe three times next year. FWS is a strong supporter of sustainable trails in fragile areas. These days, the course attracts a lot of private sector participants. It is a useful gateway for the skills and classes found on the NTTP website.
  • Steve Elkinton (DC), -- NPS Program Leader of the National Trails System has recently completed The National Trails System: A Grand Experiment, a history of the program.
  • Jaime Schmidt, USDA (AK) -- FS is overhauling its Trail Managers' website. the ITDS is close to being finalized -- it may then need training to help implement it. FS's Trails Fundamental class is explaining trail classes and other categories of trails.
  • Christopher Douwes (DC), FHWA -- Described TE and RTP and their many useful publications as a training resource.
  • Kevin Meyer (AK), NPS -- does trails science, 1/2 in parks, 1/2 in RTCA. He wants to foster trail professionalization.
  • Cam Lockwood (CA), Trails Unlimited -- offers 10 training modules, emphasizing both the art and science of trails.
  • John Favro (MT), retired from USFS, -- It's sometimes hard for Trails 101 students to get higher-level technical skills.
  • Danny Basch (CO), NPS, -- He learned his skills on the job. Now he's part of the NPS Facility Management Leadership program. The big challenge is managing human resources. Asset management systems require lots of time and training, yet they control asset-related funding.
  • Jamie Schwartz (DC), USDA Forest Service -- emphasized importance of Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! programs.
  • Gary Werner (WI), Partnership for the National Trails System, -- supports NTTP's work in both technical and partnership skill building. PNTS offers its members mostly capacity-building training.
    BLM, with FHWA help, has just finished a training needs assessment for National Trails System partners.
  • Loren Winnick (Alberta, Canada) -- New seed funds for new trails opens need for greater skills; appreciates being connected with NTTP.
  • Kara Deutsch (PA), NPS -- involved in trail planning. Now lots of staff retiring.
  • Moses Mondary (NM) -- State seeks trail-related design training to encourage top-quality trails.
  • John Beneke (AR) -- Current problem is deficit of trail maintenance skills to care for newly built trails.
  • Mary Van Buren (UT), Tread Lightly! -- train-the-trainer in TL principles.
  • Sandi McFarland (ID), USFS -- Special issues of auto-tour routes along NHTs. In the backcountry, trail standards don't help foster the unique scenic and historic character of such a trail.
  • Scott Linnenburger (CO) -- IMBA has two traveling trail teaching crews year round, nationwide. They specialize in shared-use trail training based on a lot of research, including CCC skills from 70 years ago. They have in place good agreements with most federal land-management agencies. Their classes are shifting from technical skills to capacity building, plus increasing international demand.
  • Ike Lyon (MS), USACE -- He wishes USACE was more involved with trails and trails training. Right now they are not much of a priority. "We're strugglin', but we're not givin' up!"
  • Tom Chamberland (MA ), USACE -- He's also frustrated. He finds Symposium and Trailbuilders Conference useful training.
  • Matt Osborne (KY) -- Outdoor recreation is now a top state priority -- lots of need for more volunteers.
  • Ann Colson (CT) -- Association provides two volunteer trainings each year, there is much more demand than they can accommodate.
  • Woody Keen (NC), PBTA -- Has helped orient every IMBA crew launched! Concerned about the lack of professionalism in trails work Some bids are being bid by non-professionals and the results show it. There is a need for stricter pre-qualifications for contracts.
  • Lisa Cashel (CA), Tahoe Rim Trail Assoc. -- They do a three-day in-house training. Replacement and transfer of knowledge is a big challenge.
  • Bill Gibson (AZ), BLM -- He is involved with statewide Travel Management. It is a huge system, 33,000 miles just in AZ. The goal is to grow a new crop of skilled trail leaders.
  • Toni Thompson (HI) -- Always a challenge working with volunteers.
  • Richard Vonnegut (IN) -- What standards are appropriate for fostering quality and consistency among local work projects?
  • John Z Wetmore -- does anyone have a potential TV show on pedestrians and related facilities and programs?

November 19, 2009 - 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

Introduced attendees who had not been at the previous evening's meeting.

Stuart began by saying that he and Steve Elkinton went over the notes from yesterday's discussion and organized the thoughts from the group under three topics:

  1. Initiatives (current training and education resources)
  2. Observations and Principles (main ideas and goals)
  3. Issues for Action (specific tasks and efforts to pursue)

After getting general agreement from the group on how the agenda would work, Steve led the discussion on these broad topics while Stuart highlighted each item on the projection screen. The group discussed, edited, and re-organized the lists as follows:

1. Initiatives (federal, state, organization, business sponsors)

- Georgia Trails School
- Colorado's Outdoor Stewardship Institute
- Alaska Trails, Inc.
- Connecticut Forests and Parks - two courses
- Florida accessibility training
- Nevada Outdoor Stewardship
- California Mott Training Center

- IMBA/Subaru Traveling training crews
- Tahoe Rim Trail Association - volunteer training
- Tread Lightly!
- Leave No Trace
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy
- National Scenic and Historic Trail organizations
- SCA and conservation corps
- American Trails - UTAP - Accessibility workshops
- Marshall University OHV courses
- University of Guelph, Cnada - Mountain bike
- U Wisconsin Land Stewardhip course

- Professional Trailbuilders Association

- FWS-run interagency Trail Management Process "Trails 101" course
- Forest Service Trail Managers' Website
- Forest Service Trail Fundamentals
- FHWA publications with USFS Technology and Development Program
- FHWA National Highway Institute
- USFS Trails Unlimited 10 training modules
- NST and NHT Training Needs Assessment
- Future training in ITDS?
- Future implementing Access Board regulations

2. Observations and Principles

- Many people learn trail skills on the job.
- Conferences and symposia can be venues for training.
- Training is best offered as collaborative or interagency effort.
- Emphasize sustainable trails everywhere, especially fragile areas.
- Emphasize "train the trainer."
- Emphasize design quality.
- Universally accepted skills across agency lines (e.g. fire).
- Older volunteers (families, new generations) have special needs.
- Document your expertise (write the book).
- States have important role in training for project sponsors.
- Quality Assurance - Quality Control.
- Model contract to use projects as training opportunity.
- Few higher education programs teach trail-related design and planning.
- NHTs have special requirements (auto tour routes, preservation).
- Build training capacity for trail groups.
- Feds "required training" for specialized systems.
- Balance technical and partnership skills.
- Experienced staff and volunteers retiring (loss of skills).
- New trails need staff with necessary management skills.
- Some agencies weak in trails, technologically challenged.
- Trails are suddenly important: how do we get the skills we need?
- How can new or small groups grow their training abilities?

3. Issues for Action

Issues were grouped into four main categories, with three rated as High Priority (H).

H 2 - Working group: define sustainability - design, performance
22- Develop model specs for sustainable trails
25- Unskilled contractors are bidding on trails work
6 - Training in landscape context and habitat restoration
26- Standards needed for more consistency at local level

H 4 - Imbed training in the culture of trail development
H 3, 5, 9, 20 - Every trail is an outdoor classroom
5 - Link place-based education to trail skills
9- Expand "A Trail to Every Classroom" to many more trails
20- Need to grow college level curriculum
10- Reach out to health and children organizations and agencies
15- Professionalization of trails ("trailology")
28- Should there be CEUs at trail conferences?

H 16- Developing advanced training modules to follow Trails 101
H 18 - Develop Mentoring programs
H 19- Offer and market training opportunities to other countries

M 1 - Getting skills accepted across agency and geographic lines
M 7 - Monitoring skills as a component of trail management
M 8- Set up demo contract that includes training as integral goal
M 11- Expand volunteer model of trail management (NSTs)
M 12 - Partnerships with business, help sustain volunteer efforts

Committees (Working Groups) were formed by attendees based on individual preference and then tasked with further developing these ideas/concerns. The committees reported on their findings to the remaining group after a lunch break.
* = those who actually attended the committee session today


Kevin Meyer (convenor) * -
Toni Thompson *
Hui Jung * -
Cam Lockwood * -
Gary Werner * -
David Certain * -
Ike Lyon -
John Beneke
Scott Linnenburger -
Lisa Cashel -
Nathan Caldwell -
Woody Keen -
Walter Bready -


Mary Van Buren (convenor) * -
Waimakalani Iona (recorder) * -
Nathan Caldwell * -
Lisa Cashel * -
Walt Bready * -
Tom Chamberland * -
Jamie Schwartz -
Gary Werner -
Toni Thompson
Ike Lyon -


Danny Basch (convenor) * -
Woody Keen * -
Scott Linnenburger * -
Mike Passo * -
Christopher Douwes *
Moses Mondary * -
John Beneke
Kevin Meyer
Tom Chamberland -

The working groups reported on their discussions:

Sustainable Trails Group Discussion Results - Nov, 19, 2008

1. What are your greatest needs?
- Common term/Concepts on Sustainability for trails (esp. in three aspects as follows)

- Building Capacity for all aspects of Sustainability
- Develop strategy to promote Sustainability

2. What do you need from NTTP and American Trails?
- Host to workshop
- Conduct from workshop to larger trails community at 2010 conference

3. What can you contribute to a public works jobs programs?
- Guidance for "Sustainable trails construction" (specialized package)
- Strategy of implementation in each of federal, state and local level about Technical, Management and Social aspects
- Assessment construction
- Kevin will set up conference call for early Jan. 09 to determine next steps. He will also send some info to initiate group discussion.

Trail Professionalization Committee - Nov, 19, 2008

Problem Statements/ areas of concern:

- Inconsistency and/or lack of understanding, experience and knowledge of trail management and technical construction issues by trail managers.
- Too often trails are subjugated below other assets and/or activities due to a lack of funding, staffing, organization, and perhaps most critically a fundamental lack of understanding and advocacy of trails on behalf of those who are charged with their management.
- Trail managers are in high-pressure, demanding jobs where trail management is often a collateral duty
- No minimum level or defined standards for public and/or private trail managers, trail contract managers, and trail workers.
- No requirements to run or manage trail programs—unlike operating a chainsaw or heavy dump truck—no agency, interagency or industry standard for minimal experience level, training requirements, certification or process to maintain qualifications—for managers, workers and volunteers
- Lack of professional credentials and/or certification program.
- Lack of national trail direction—no lead agency/entity
- Lack of national, public/private voices/advocates for trails
- Lack of interagency and public coordination
- Lack of funding for national trail coordinator—for trails in park and forest units—not part of existing Historic, Scenic or Recreational Trail networks.
- No certification process—model Interagency Wild Land Firefighting?
- Certification for trail crew leaders has been explored by the Outdoor Stewardship Institute (OSI) in Colorado
- Certification is a complex process, may follow more easily from other developments in the trail professionalization effort
- Lack of national trail direction—no lead agency/entity
- Lack of national, public/private advocates for trails
- The trail crew as a sports team metaphor is most revealing: winning teams require talent, but winning teams also attract talent—talented players simply are not interested in playing for losing teams—professional trail organizations represent a ‘winning’ trail team

Trail Professionalization Committee Needs from the NTTP

- Advocate the critical need to professionalize all aspects of the trail industry
- Serve as a hub/clearing house of info and training opportunities
- Serve as the certification hub?
- Advocate and advertise standardized trail terminology, classification (1 to 5), assessment, maintenance and construction standards.
- Currently ongoing—Interagency Trail Council—where’s the process at?
- Advocate the standardization of certification programs from public, private and inter-agency trail managers and workers
- Advocate the need for an interagency, public/private partnership to work toward trail standardization and professionalization
- Advocate the need for a national trail coordinator—to address concerns and issues facing trails within federal, state and local land managing units in addition to the private industry
- Outside/in addition to existing National Trail programs

Trail Professionalization Committee Mission Statement:

The Trail Professionalization Committee (TPC) exists as a volunteer effort of the National Trail Training Partnership. The purpose of the TPC is to advocate for the professionalization of trail construction and maintenance skills, trail management, trails as an attractive and viable career, and for the industry as a whole. The TPC will seek ways to establish and develop publicly and privately supported standards and processes by which to increase the quality, quantity and sustainability of trail skills, management and products.

To achieve progress toward these goals, there are two key questions this committee is attempting to answer:

1. What does a mature, professional trail worker, manager, organization and contractor look and act like?

2. What are the areas to identify and methods of measuring the differences between a professional versus an unprofessional trail worker, manager, organization and contractor?

Next Meeting

Professional Trailbuilders Conference in March 2009.

Adjourned: 3:55 p.m.

Notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald

Photo of meeting

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