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Professional Trailbuilders Association gives award for Grand Canyon Greenway

From the Spring 2001 issue of Trail Tracks, the newsletter of AMERICAN TRAILS.

From the Professional Trailbuilders Association

Map Arizona north centralThe Professional (formerly Western) Trailbuilders Association gave the first annual Harvey Bell Memorial Award to The Greenway Collaborative for excellence in Trail Design, more specifically for their leadership in creating the Grand Canyon Greenway project.

The award was accepted by three design team members who have provided countless hours of expert volunteer assistance re-conceiving how people will experience the Grand Canyon.

Present to accept the award were:

Jeff Olson, a trailblazer from New York and recent Director of the Millennium Trails initiative;

Peter Axelson of Beneficial Designs, who provided design guides for disability access; and

Robert Searns, a greenway planner/developer from Urban Edges of Denver, Colorado, the Project Development Consultant.

The team, at work for four years, may see the first construction during 2001, It includes a rich mix of professionals from outside and inside the National Park Service. They have raised over two million dollars to date from Government, corporate, and individual sources and will incorporate volunteer participation by youth groups, possibly with expert help from members of the Association.

The Professional Trailbuilders Association is made up of over 30 contractors who specialize in trails. The organization has been in existence for about 25 years and meets annually in Reno with various Government agencies such as the US Forest Service who use the services of contractors to build trails.

This award also recognizes the contributions of one of its founding members who had been fiercely committed to excellence in trail design. Harvey Bell, truly an unforgettable character, was represented by his brother, Roger Bell, also a California trail contractor and currently Vice-Chair of American Trails.

A similar design concept is proposed for Yosemite National Park, and members of the team have creatively influenced greenway design in urban centers and front-country trail systems nation-wide.

Searns, a major contributor to three books on greenway design and also a Board member of American Trails, told the group that good trails were an antidote to technical overload in the information age. In this age, leisure activity tends to mirror the demands of work culture so that "even places like the Grand Canyon are now packaged tour bus photo-ops and not places that fully engage the whole body, mind and spirit."

Instead, he envisions open spaces and greenways, whether in wilderness parks or urban centers, as "vital infrastructure that can become part of our daily lives." Well-designed trails could truly engage the present moment and provide a sense of place, thereby becoming "a chord that resonates the soul."

For additional information on the Grand Canyon Greenway Project, contact Bob Searns (303) 904-6886. For more information on the Professional Trailbuilders Association, contact Roger Bell (909) 793-4501 or see

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