Somewhere near midnight on November 30 the last person taking the Trails Training Survey was counted. It turned out that 755 people actually went through the whole thing and hit the “Submit” button. This wasn’t the shortest or the easiest survey, by a long shot. So we would like to thank trails people all over the country for sticking with it and giving us the benefit of their experience.

Just that fact shows there is indeed considerable interest in training for trail skills. But there are a lot of things we hope to learn, such as the kinds of people or organizations most interested in training. And what is most important? We provided a long list of specific topics and asked people to rate the need for these different kinds of skills. We also asked about best ways to deliver training, how people have learned trail skills, and priorities for the National Trails Training Partnership. Finally, we asked about 20 people from trail groups, States, and agencies some questions by phone on more specific issues and ideas for training.

Why does all this matter? The short answer is that it takes real knowledge to plan and build good trails. Informed managers make better decisions on planning as well as contract management. Skilled volunteers are more effective, and they feel their time has been well spent. You can also look at the many ways that better trail decisions save money, time, and problems.

So thanks again to everyone and we’ll look forward to bringing you information about the survey results as we delve into the data.

— Stuart Macdonald, National Trails Training Partnership project manager for American Trails

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