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Training and education

Learning New Skills for Trail Work

By Stuart Macdonald, National Trails Training Partnership

Connect with trails training for every educational need: check the online calendar

Caring for our trails is a constant learning process, with new challenges around every curve. A wide variety of training is available during 2006 for volunteers and professionals working to develop trails of all kinds. The National Trails Training Partnership is working with the agencies and organizations across America to help make trail-related training more accessible.

Some courses are sponsored by ongoing training programs and are held several times during the year and in different parts of the country. The following examples are only a selection of what is available-- see details on the NTTP Online Calendar at

In the Accessible Trails area, American Trails has courses available on Understanding Accessibility and Building Better Trails. American Trails also coordinates the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) Coordinator Workshops. This program teaches objective, accurate measurements of trail conditions to identify maintenance issues as well as ways to improve accessibility for persons of all abilities.

Trail Management: Plans, Projects and People is a week-long interagency course hosted by the BLM which covers planning, design layout, construction, maintenance, monitoring, interpretation, and operations.

Trail Design Schools are sponsored by Subaru of America and the International Mountain Bicycling Association, help bike clubs, land managers, and other trail groups to improve trails, solve management challenges, and learn the art of sustainable trailbuilding. Other well-regarded courses are The Art and Science of Trails, presented by Woody Keen of Trail Dynamics LLC, and Natural Surface Trail Design and Layout, presented by Troy Scott Parker of Natureshape LLC.

Off-Highway Vehicle Management training is offered at several state workshops by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) and local groups. A series of four online courses on OHV Recreation offered by Marshall University. These college-level classes each provide three units of credit and can be taken by students anywhere in the world.

Trail Skills for Volunteers are taught by national, state, and regional groups such as the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society, American Hiking Society, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and several Appalachian Trail chapters. American Trails also makes available a Trail Crew Leadership Training course developed by the Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative.

Tread Lightly! Train-the-Trainer Workshops and other courses in outdoor ethics, wilderness management, and Leave no Trace camping are available from a variety of organizations in many locations.

Specialized training is also available for equestrian trails, water trails, winter trails, and many other activities. You'll also find training for Geographic Information Systems, organization building, habitat restoration, and legal issues. And if you need an expert in an outdoor recreation field, you'll find listings of experts who can bring training directly to your organization, tailored to your needs.

Promote your training opportunities! Send information to Courses, workshops, and conferences are posted on the continuously updated online Trails Training Calendar. A companion online database allows you to search by state, by training provider, or by keyword. And finally, visit for links to hundreds of articles, technical articles, studies, and resources on every aspect of trail planning, construction, materials, and management hosted by

The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, professional contractors, and providers of products and services. Work is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (Cooperative Agreement No. DTFH61-01-X-00091), the USDA Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and American Trails.

For more information contact the National Trails Training Partnership through American Trails, PO Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797. Phone (530) 605-4395 or email


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