The newsletter of AMERICAN TRAILS -- NEW YEARS 1998

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News from America's trails state by state

By Stuart Macdonald, National Assoc. of State Trail Administrators

Alaska's state agencies work together for trails

The Governor of Alaska has brought all of the state's agencies together under a new "umbrella." TRAAK, which stands for Trail And Recreational Access Programs, ensures that the various programs of the state are communicating and working together. Cooperative projects include snowmobile trails linking rural communities, improving highways with trailheads and signs, providing interpretive displays on state ferries, and coordinating everything from Fish and Game projects to planning and land development projects.

For more information: Ron Crenshaw, Recreational Trails Program Administrator, Alaska State Parks, 3601 C St., Ste. 1200, Anchorage AK 99503-5921.

Alabama's newest trail: Chief Ladiga

The Chief Ladiga Trail is Alabama's newest and longest rail-trail. The 8.9-mile trail connects Jacksonville and Piedmont in northeast Alabama and offers scenic views of the Talladega mountain range in the Talladega National Forest. In rural Cleborne County it crosses Alabama's famed Pinhoti Trail.

The first section of the Chief Ladiga (pronounced La-DIE-ga) Trail officially opened in September, 1996. The paved trail, open to bicyclists, pedestrians, in-line skaters, and wheelchair users, is both a rail-banked corridor and a recipient of federal transportation funds through the ISTEA program.

For more information: Tommy Alison, City of Piedmont, P.O. Box 112, Piedmont, AL 36271 (205) 447-9007.

Backcountry Horsemen success story

Backcountry Horsemen's Council Kern Sierra Unit recently took the lead in organizing a volunteer project on the Pacific Crest Trail. President Dud Lange was approached for help in solving some logistical problems on an American Hiking Society week-long trail project. It seems the base camp five miles up the trail had no water available.

Calculating that 140 gallons of water would be required (800 pounds), seven mules and four packers and riding animals were used. When the Backcountry Horsemen returned to pack out empty water containers, accumulated trash, and trail tools, they met the hiking volunteers coming down the trail. It was a great opportunity to meet and share experiences, to assist each other in our volunteer efforts, and reaffirm that we are all working for the same goal: to improve the trails and resources on our public lands. For more information: contact the Kern Sierra Unit at (760) 378-2486.

National Guard helps build rail trail in CT and RI

The Connecticut Greenways Council is pleased to report on the Connecticut National Guard's Rail to Trail Program. Through the cooperation of the Connecticut DEP, the Connecticut National Guard, and 14 host communities, approximately 50 miles of the Charter Oak Greenway has become mountain bike passable.

DEP Commissioner Sidney H. Holbrook (currently Chief of Staff in Governor John Rowland's office), supported the allocation of some of Connecticut's SYMMS money in the Connecticut National Guard. These funds were used for fuel, materials, and National Guard wages. The National Guard used the project as a training activity for its soldiers.

The Rhode Island National Guard is moving forward with a similar approach. It is expected that they will enhance the Trestle Trail and connect to where the Connecticut National Guard left off. Both of these trails are part of the route of the East Coast Greenway, the evolving Canada to Key West multi-use trail corridor.

For more information regarding the East Coast Greenway, please contact Karen Votava, Executive Director, 135 Main Street, Wakefield, RI 02879; phone & fax: (401) 789-1706.

Some highlights of 1997 for trails in Delaware

-- Greenway grants from the Delaware Land and Conservation Trust Fund totalled $485,000 for new trail construction and greenway planning.

-- The Council on Greenways and Trails approved the Capital Bikebelt demonstration project; the Northern Delaware Greenway, an implementation model; and planning for the American Discovery Trail. The common goal is to pool the expertise and resources of state and local agencies and other groups to get greenway projects on the ground.

-- Greenfest '97 combined a greenway conference sponsored by Delaware Greenways, Inc., with tours and a festival at Cape Henlopen State Park.

-- A comprehensive guide to Delaware's greenways and trails offers both a vision and maps of completed trails. Copies are available from the Delaware Greenways Program

-- A video introducing Delaware's Greenway Program was updated with an introduction by the Lt. Governor.

For more information: Greenways Program, Division of Parks and Recreation, 89 Kings Highway, Dover DE 19901 (302) 739-5285.

1997: a great year for Illinois greenways and trails

Here's a sample of some of the progress made for trails and greenways in Illinois this past year:

-- In September over 200 people attended the first "Illinois Trails and Greenways Conference."

-- The Year 2000 Regional Greenways and Trails Implement-ation Program was completed for the northeastern part of the state. Three other metro areas completed regional trails and greenways plans.

-- Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) completed an assessment of all trails on IDNR sites, identifying $5 million in rehabilitation needs.

-- A Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trails Plan is being developed in partnership with IDNR, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC), Openlands Project, and Illinois Paddling Council.

-- The 475 mile Grand Illinois Trail, which will stretch from the Chicago Lakefront to the Mississippi River and back, is progressing. The NIPC is proposing that the Grand Illinois Trail project be part of a new six-county greenways plan that includes 1,963 miles of multiuse trails.

-- The Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects presented the IDNR with an award for the Department's greenways and trails efforts.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is committed to the partnership approach and to linking individual trails and greenways into regional, statewide, and national networks. The progress made in 1997 proves these partnerships are working and these networks are at hand.

For information, contact Dick Westfall, IDNR, 524 S 2nd St., Springfield IL 62706 (217) 782-3715; e-mail:

North Dakota
New 120-mile trail nears completion

When completed in late 1998, the Maah Daah Hey Trail will traverse 120 miles of the scenic and rugged North Dakota badlands. Hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists will be able to enjoy the trail, which is a cooperative project of North Dakota State Parks, Little Missouri National Graslands, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The trail name comes from the Mandan Indians; its symbol is a turtle.

For more information: Randy Harmon, ND Parks and Recreation Dept., 1835 Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck ND 58504; (701) 328-5357; Fax (701) 328-5363. On the Web at:

South Carolina
Guidebook for South Carolina trails available

The South Carolina Trails Resource Guide is now available. In a foldout map format the Guide lists agencies and organizations that provide trails and information about trails throughout South Carolina. The Guide was a partnership project between the State Trails Program and the SC Governor's Council on Physical Fitness. Send your request to the State Trails Program, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, 1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 235, Columbia, SC 29201.

South Dakota
George S. Mickelson Trail extended to 62 miles

Bikers, hikers and horseback riders have a new section of trail to explore along the George S. Mickelson Trail. A new section opened in early November, creating 42 continuous miles of trail between Pringle and Hill City. Also completed is a 20-mile section between Deadwood and Dumont.

State Trails Coordinator Dan Simon said the entire 110-mile trail will be completed sometime next fall. The trail follows South Dakota's historic Burlington Northern Deadwood to Edgemont rail line and spans the entire length of the Black Hills. Interpretive exhibits along the trail will give visitors a deeper appreciation for the area's historic background, and the city of Deadwood is planning to install a period locomotive near the community's trailhead. Two railroad tunnels along the new Hill City section were restored by the U.S. Forest Service and will also add interest to the trail.

For more information: Dan Simon, State Trails Coordinator, SD Game, Fish, & Parks, 523 E Capitol Ave., Pierre SD 57501; (605) 773-3930; E-mail:

Antelope Island trails managed to protect wildlife

Antelope Island State Park is a rugged peak rising from Utah's Great Salt Lake and linked by a causeway to the mainland. A key issue has been to develop a trail system which provides access to scenic locations while minimizing impacts to the unique array of wildlife. Bison, bighorn sheep, and of course antelope have been reintroduced in recent years to the island. Critical wildlife habitat has been identified, and trails are routed away from the most sensitive locations. Another key strategy is to manage trails for wildlife as well as visitors. For instance, high elevation trails will be closed during bighorn sheep lambing season (March to April).

For more information: Utah State Parks (801) 538-7220.