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Editorial: The Trail Ahead Needs ALL of Us

From the Spring 2006 issue of American Trails Magazine

By Roger Bell

"We need your support, financially and energetically. We need your passion and participations."

When I read Bob Searns' visionary analysis— in this issue of our new publication, the American Trails Magazine— of ways in which the natural and created environment, and trails in particular, impact and reflect our shared consciousness, I was inspired to offer a few additional thoughts inviting your participation.

I am so pleased that he is taking the helm of our organization alongside Pam Gluck, Stuart Macdonald, a crack office staff, and some darn good fellow Board members. American Trails is in good hands indeed!

I know if you are reading this that you too want healthy trails and are willing to lend your support to make this movement thrive and prosper.

I am also a Board member of the Professional Trailbuilders Association, and another visionary with his sleeves rolled up has become that organization's new leader. Woody Keen is a gifted and articulate guide, also on the Board of the International Moutainbike Association, who truly does see the big picture and has the energy and skill to enliven the trail world from those perspectives.

And we do need such vision. Trails are emblematic of a can-do, soul-deep ethic intimately connecting us with our roots. They speak to our healthy impulses, they touch into spiritual and practical appreciation for what is earthy, natural, and beautiful, they are essential components of our re-creational needs, blending wise sculpting of the land with keen aesthetic sensibility.

They invite a volunteer spirit and skilled professional stewards. They help us appreciate viscerally what we deeply value but can't always articulate. American Trails seeks to honor and spread that spirit widely and gracefully, to bring together a sometimes fractured and unsure alliance that we believe can and should stand together for our--and really everyone's--mutual benefit.

We need your support, financially and energetically. We need your passion and participation.

Join us and help find the best pathways in what I believe is otherwise a profoundly disquieting time when public trails are sadly deteriorating along with other aspects of our common space. There is talk of selling off public lands, efforts to dry up the public treasury of needed funds for keeping trails and other aspects of our environment well cared for.

We can't let this happen. We need to build common cause with our friends and allies in this important struggle to protect our natural and created heritage and to keep open spaces there for all to appreciate and experience first hand. We need trails in private as well as public spaces, we need users who willingly set aside their separate agendas long enough to assure a larger pattern of success.

Join American Trails and let's together keep these vital threads that bind us alive and well.

Roger Bell is a former college administrator with a PhD from the University of Washington. Roger has served with the Western Trailbuilders Association, Whole Access, and the Redlands Trail Committee. As a contractor, he has completed 300 projects in 14 states over the last 30 years. He is currently trail contractor working largely with private developers, as well as consultant and dealer in trail products and bridges.

Submit your opinion, article, or editorial to American Trails at or if you have questions call us at (530) 547-2060.

American Trails offers this website as a public resource to share ideas and opinions on trails and greenways. We have not evaluated the accuracy, feasibility, or legality of any of the material or articles. The opinions and editorials presented here do not necessarily reflect the opinion or support of American Trails. American Trails does not discriminate against individuals or groups on the basis or race, religion, nationality, or political affliiation.

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