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Steve Elkinton facilitating NTTP meeting in
Washington, DC, June 2006
By Steve Elkinton, National Park Service
This year, seven Federal agencies signed a ground-breaking agreement to work together to promote trail-related training. The National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all signed this interagency memorandum of understanding (MOU).
"Seamless service for the American public is built on agreements such as this that provide one-stop shopping for partner needs," says the Park Service's Associate Director for Partnerships, Christopher K. Jarvi.
The MOU has been developing since 1999, when representatives from these agencies— as well a variety of national nonprofit organizations, such as the American Hiking Society and the Student Conservation Association -- came to together to strategize ways to provide more and higher level training, both for staff and volunteer partners, than is now provided within the agencies.
The National Trails Training Partnership, or "NTTP," was founded at these meetings. With some funding from the Federal Highway Administration and lots of help from the group called American Trails (that also sponsors the biennial National Trails Symposium), NTTP has grown each year. The NTTP network now includes Federal agencies, State resource departments, and non-profit outdoor recreation groups, as well as contractors and other business partners who provide training. The main goal of NTTP is to make training for trails and greenways as widely available as possible and to help staff and volunteers plan, design, enhance, build, interpret, protect, and maintain trails and greenways for all Americans.
Trails are great places for all Americans to improve their health by being physically active. In signing this MOU, the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Julie Gerberding, stated, "The CDC believe it is important to collaborate with our partners to raise awareness about the roles and benefits of physical activity in maintaining good health. CDC encourages the use of our Nation's natural resources where recreation opportunities exist. Hitting the nation's many trails, parks, and waters is a great way for all Americans to have fun and, at the same time, get valuable physical activity."
Each year a wide variety of training opportunities are featured through the NTTP website at www.TrailsTraining.net. This year's offerings include a wide range of trail learning opportunities for all types of trails, from primitive backcountry routes to urban greenways. Formats vary from one-day workshops to week-long trail schools, from basic trail work introductions to specialized technical skills. A random sample of training topics includes geographic positioning systems (GPS), trail adoption, grant writing, advocacy, volunteer management, noxious weed control, land acquisition, and trail design for specific users including equestrians, snowmobiles, and mountain bikers. Some courses are sponsored by ongoing training programs and are held several times during the year in different parts of the country.
To ensure that America's trail opportunities remain available for people of all ages and abilities, staff and partners who support this diverse network of trails need the opportunity to build their trail skills. Well built and maintained trails are a long-term investment for a healthier America.
The National Trails Training Partnership is an effort by trails advocates to improve opportunities for training for the nationwide trails community. The vision of the Partnership is "to ensure that the full range of skills, training, and resource information is available to trail groups, communities, tribal governments, and State and Federal agencies." American Trails is the lead organization for developing NTTP, with funding from the Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program, and support from many other groups.
The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, and providers of products and services. Visit the online calendar of training opportunities, access hundreds of trail-related resources, read the news, learn how you can help, and see training resources in your state.
This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement DTFH61-06-H-00023. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.
To promote your trails-related training offerings, send information to NTTP@AmericanTrails.org. Courses and events will be posted on the continuously updated website.