The newsletter of AMERICAN TRAILS -- SPRING 1998

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Building cooperation: establishing communications and developing networks

By Randy Harden, Executive Director of NOHVCC and AMERICAN TRAILS Board Member

AMERICAN TRAILS is the venue where all types of trail advocates can gather, can get to know each other and to learn about a much larger perspective in the "trail community". Indeed a place to expand our visions about what trail cooperation means.

To have meaningful cooperation requires massive doses of communications. Perhaps a word that is overused or taken lightly, but communications is much more than just talking. In the context used at AMERICAN TRAILS it means discovering issues that the entire trail community can agree on, realizing the areas where we cannot all agree, and then collaborating in such ways that we build understanding of each others challenges, strengths, and most importantly, assist each other in areas that are weaknesses.

This type of cooperation and communication is difficult, it is time consuming, and in most instances it breaks tradition of segregating different user groups and agencies that manage them. The values and philosophies of AMERICAN TRAILS instead present a unified front of trail advocates. This type of cooperation becomes a framework that establishes a "mechanism" of sorts, that provides for a global trail community, communicating to the world about the benefits of trails. It also shows how a cohesive trail community, through AMERICAN TRAILS and its membership, can display as a collective group that it is deserving of the same respect as other credible sectors in today's society.

Building and expanding the trails world, reaching out and inviting involvement, being a clearinghouse of useful information, provides a network that has become a resource for ALL trail groups. This network can be equated to a "connect the dot" puzzle for the trail community as a whole. While the organization I am part of deals with motorized contacts and issues, by plugging into the larger AMERICAN TRAILS network allows for the expansion of our valuable communications system!

This communications system includes the many federal agency partnerships that have already been built and continue to be expanded upon. The varied national and statewide organizational and agency types are also invaluable to us all. Right down to the very diverse and knowledgeable individuals that, under a common ground setting, find ways that protect and enhance our very essence of trail development and opportunities.

Please accept our invitation to join and be part of the solutions for the CREATION OF TRAILS FOR ALL AMERICANS!

-- Randy Harden

April 1998 -- AMERICAN TRAILS --