SEAtrails: a regional effort for Alaskan trails
The coalition works to improve health opportunities, promote local businesses, connect people and communities, encourage eco-tourism, and increase transportation option.
By Frances Pillifant
Inspired by the likes of the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and Milford Track, N.Z., SEAtrails, Southeast Alaska Trail Systems (www.SEAtrails.org), is a regional effort to plan, promote, maintain and construct a trail system directing visitor focus to Southeast communities unique, accessible and splendid water and forest trails.
SEAtrails works to advance a number of efforts: improving physical health opportunities locally via recreation facilities, connecting trail users with local businesses and vice versa, helping to connect people and communities, encouraging eco-tourism and adventure travel, increasing transportation options, improving access to communities and villages with Alaska’s Marine Highway System service, providing opportunities for local and regional economic development, and serving as a model for other regional efforts promoting Alaska trails.
SEAtrails has a strong history of significant accomplishment despite an annual operating budget of less than $3,000, a volunteer board and no paid employees. Accomplishments since May 2006 to the present include:
SEAtrails also serves as a cooperative partnership model for organizations and groups that are working to build solutions serving diverse groups and interests. SEAtrails works tirelessly to build and strengthen partnerships and garner region-wide support for implementing the SEAtrails mission. What started as a grassroots effort in 2000 has grown to include 19 distinct member communities, each sharing a common goal: create a diverse, stable economy based on recreational opportunities and access to transportation.
SEAtrails partner communities range in size from a small homeowners association of 50 people in Naukati to 30,000 people in the capital city of Juneau. Current member communities include Angoon, Coffman Cove, Craig, Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Naukati, Pelican, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Thorne Bay, Whale Pass, Wrangell and Yakutat. On initiation of SEAtrails, a diverse group of local, state and federal interests were brought together.
SEAtrails continues to nurture relationships with a strong and growing coalition of partners. These include:
State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Alaska Marine Highway System; Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Department of Natural Resources; Federal agencies: Federal Highway Administration; U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service (Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program); a variety of local governments and non-profit and for profits groups, including Southeast Conference; Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA); formalized local trail groups (Sitka Trail Works, Juneau Trail Mix, Ketchikan Outdoor Recreation and Trails Coalition); Southeast Conference (a regional economic development organization); Alaska Wilderness, Recreation, Tourism Association (AWRTA); Southeast Alaska Guidance Association (SAGA) and other partners.
SEAtrails includes and promotes only trails and cultural attractions selected by each community. The directed promotion benefits agencies and residents by focusing visitors away from favorite local trails, subsistence resources and delicate cultural historic sites reducing overuse and creating and maintaining higher quality recreational opportunities on public lands. And due to the inter-connectedness of the SEAtrails network and partnerships, regional and local trail efforts can better leverage trail development dollars.
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Updated January 2, 2009