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June 12, 2006 NTTP Meeting Notes

MINUTES of the NATIONAL TRAILS TRAINING PARTNERSHIP MEETING held in Arlington, Virginia, June 12, 2006.

June 12, 2006 (9:00 am -4:15 pm)

M I N U T E S

Photo: putting notes on posterboard
Steve Elkinton facilitating the visioning session

Introductions

Monica Clay, Tread Lightly! and Pam Gluck, American Trails, welcomed the group. Monica Clay chaired the meeting. Nathan Caldwell, USFWS, is the other co-convener for NTTP in 2006, and hosted the meeting.

Attendees

  • Monica Clay, Tread Lightly!
  • Pam Gluck, American Trails
  • Stuart Macdonald, NTTP and American Trails
  • Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails System
  • Steve Elkinton, National Park Service
  • Christopher Douwes, FHWA, Recreational Trails and Enhancements Programs
  • Jonathan LeClere, contractor with FHWA, Recreational Trails and Enhancements Programs
  • Nathan Caldwell U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Kevin Kilcullen, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

1. Organization Updates

Gary Werner, Partnership for National Trails

Planning workshop on National Scenic Trails in October. Focus is preservation of trail resources with introduction to two new partners. Focus on funding through federal transportation. Session on US Fish & Wildlife Service refuges working with private landowners.

Nathan Caldwell, USFWS

Land on Scenic Byway, working with private interests to protect resources as well as wildlife habitat.

August 29-30 transportation conference including habitat connectivity, scenic byways, emphasis on FHWA partnerships. The Trail Management Course will be offered Sept 18-22 at Sheperdstown, WV. Federal agency personnel have free tuition.

Jonathan LeClere

CRT awards will be given this week.

Monica Clay, Tread Lightly!

Tread Trainer program focuses on motorized recreation. Online "awareness course" will be available soon.

Pam Gluck, American Trails

Planning for National Trails Symposium (Oct 19-22, 2006). 48 breakout sessions, lots of great programs. Going to take more time for mini-workshops on marketing and maintenance. 78 exhibitors for trade show. 15 mobile workshops.

New workshops on accessible trails starting with State coordinators last year. Now doing several for State of Florida which is training their project managers in UTAP. Hope States will do more training using their RTP funds.

Also creating trail crew workshops with Colorado Outdoor, and another on working with developers on trail development. Will be working with COTI to document statewide training coordination.

"Cool Trail Solutions" is another idea to present photos of good trail ideas, examples, solutions to trail problems; will be a new area on the website. Galleries of examples, training on specific technical areas. Photo archiving systems are available but weak link is providing enough information about the photos. One example is photo essays on different topics. We want to encourage people to do short write-ups of their projects and provide a lot of photos.

Christopher Douwes, FHWA

Snowmobile groups are doing a lot of safety training. Addressing safety around groomers. Ontario has biggest network of snowmobile trails; found that groomed trails are actually much safer. State Trail Administrators meeting in October at Quad Cities. New FHWA website: Will have lots of training information, safety and design focused.

Steve Elkinton, NPS

Showed two new books about trail history and construction in Acadia National Park. Effort to learn from efforts to maintain trails without compromising historic qualities. Book on the history of the trail system and another with advice for trail crews on building and rebuilding trails, for instance rockwork and bridges using native materials and craftsmanship. Available through Government Printing Office. Steve will provide ordering information.

NPS's Hagerstown, MD center does training on historic resources: stonework, buildings, other facilities.

Unfortunately, NPS is cutting back training by 20-30% and travel much reduced so they aren't sending people to training as much as in the past. NPS is depending on other groups for trails training like Trail Management Process course. Steve is working with Deb Salt (BLM) to do more training with National scenic and historic trails people. Want to see more online training in the future.

Stuart Macdonald, NTTP and American Trails

Website statistics show continued increase in visitors. Website Statistics (Handout provided by Pam) [will you attach this?]. In May, 2006 visits to website reached an all time high of 105,802. About 87,000 visits were to NTTP branded pages. Calendar is most comprehensive resource for training-related events nationwide that is available on the web.

Our strategy: use popularity of website to increase visibility of training. Advertise training, encourage cooperation.

Showed new format for American Trails magazine; need professional-quality photos for future covers. Steve suggested Charlie Tracy; suggested Kent Wimmer of Florida Trail (USFS), as well as NRT photo contest.

2. Competencies Discussion

Steve: Jamie Schwartz had developed matrix of trail-related skills, and he had also developed lists of competencies. Would like to continue to pull this information together. Would like to know what would be most useful to NTTP, who would use the information, how agencies might benefit from it. For instance NPS has a partnerships competencies document that is being adopted by several agencies.

Stuart: Matrix of course materials, gap analysis. Compare specific skills learned in the available courses. Like a course catalog that goes from 100 level course through more advanced work. Would be a very useful thing to have on the web so it could be updated continually, connect people to training that is available, relate to database.

Discussion: what is the goal of individuals or organizations, does it relate to trail careers? Idea is to more clearly define what the training does. Relate course descriptions to each other. Agency professional training compared to volunteer or mechanical skills, as well as policy and administrative skills, organization and partnership building.

Gary: add additional skill sets or topics: organization capacity, interpretation and education, landscape and corridor management along with things like invasive species.

Need: expand the matrix, be more clear about goals. Perhaps organize courses in tracks like volunteer, managers, administration, organization, interpretation.

Nathan: wide range of competencies that are important to on the ground trails; additional levels on organization and management skills.

Christopher: get others involved from PTBA like Gerry Wilbour, Troy Parker, Roger Bell, Woody Keene.

Steve agreed to convene a conference call committee meeting of the Competencies Committee to merge former efforts and prepare a report back to the full Steering Committee.

3. NTTP Outreach and Marketing

States doing more training; FHWA encouraging States to do more training.

NPS has interagency training opportunities

Steve: Committee should give us an update on strategies and accomplishments?

Google Grants for sponsored links for nonprofits; see Yahoo as well.

Committee members: Diane, Monica, Stuart, Pam, Dana.

Higher education, find out who is providing courses, who wants curriculum material.

Check: University of Wisconsin has a natural resources program, San Diego State recreation program; Landscape Architecture and Transportation programs.

Some professors are using FHWA publications, "Trails for the 21st Century," and Troy Parker's book.

Long term goal is to make a curriculum available for teachers to use to include trails and greenways content in their courses.

AASHTO is another resource in the transportation field.

National Association of Counties

4. Visioning for NTTP

Pam: NTTP has always worked by consensus. We'd like to look at ways to include more partners and organizations participating in the meetings and providing input. What do we need to focus on over next three years. What are our obstacles and the goals we're setting out.

Steve Elkinton stepped out of his role representing NPS and facilitated this visioning session, using a series of questions.

What is the highlight of your association with NTTP? What do you think of when you look at NTTP?

Great ideas, "NTTP t.p.," Brainstorm, Creative, Lots to learn, Inclusion, Friends, Partnership.

What have been the benefits of NTTP to your organization?

  • Encouraging States with importance of training; Resource for States; Sharing information among states
  • Collaboration with new partners
  • Coordination and information sharing; Networking with key stakeholders
  • Brings agencies and organizations together
  • COTI trip to Brown's Park National Wildlife Refuge
  • Able to send people to available new training resources
  • Exposure via website; reciprocal web links
  • Promoting our training to the right people
  • Resource that didn't exist a few years ago
  • Recognizing the importance of trail training
  • Dialogue: refining understanding of training
  • Work to provide and sustain funding for trail training

Is NTTP's vision statement still working? Is it the right set of goals? Are we making progress towards those goals? What hinders us?

Positive:

  • Voluntary association
  • Involvement from all partners; diversity of interests
  • Different ways to get together for a common goal
  • Training is available to a wide range of partners
  • Wide variety of training opportunity
  • Cataloguing existing training opportunities
  • Growing use of the website among groups and agencies
  • FHWA, BLM, and USFS funding
  • The existence of quality training

Negative:

  • Insufficient funds; need new sources of funding
  • Insufficient friends
  • Have not done much gap analysis
  • Not enough participation by partners, agencies, organizations
  • Hard to get partners and others to provide information on available or planned training
  • Do we tie responsibility to accountability
  • Vision of "manage" trails is too wide
  • Not fostering new training opportunities
  • Little commitment by States despite outreach
  • Concentrates too much on physical trails (dirt)
  • No involvement from Indian tribal governments
  • Confusing directions

Discussion:

Value of COTI as a model for other organizations and states, as well as providing needed training.

Importance of working together in a cooperative way.

Share information on accomplishments and actions from American Trails quarterly reports to FHWA.

Training that American Trails is providing is helping identify needs for new training.

For agencies, there is often no person available to work on training issues.

Some nonprofits do their own training and are happy to do it on their own.

Need to develop specific needs into projects that we could seek funding for.

We have not made a real effort to find out who the audiences are, and how we can help bring more training to them.

Gary notes that of all the funding that the Partnership has requested over the years, training has never been part of it.

Having a specific cost for the training is helpful in documenting need for funding.

We should broaden and enlarge the vision statement.

Very few states seem to have an information network to share training, either from NTTP or to promote local training.

We would be more effective by targeting outreach to specific people, e.g. sending specific training schedules to each State and asking for additional opportunities.

From American Trails perspective, we get confusing direction from partners on what we should do, what is appropriate for NTTP. Difficult to make progress where voices are more often raising concerns rather than eager to go after good ideas. One need that we have is to follow through on ideas to build consensus or solve problems.

What are the current trends, myths, and realities that affect our work?

  • Myspace.com: new online communities, ways to network.
  • Video games, no one goes outside; "Last Child Outside"
  • Trails have a huge role in combating obesity.
  • Demographic shifts: more minorities, people not represented in our associations and conferences.
  • Funding is tough; Federal Highway Trust Fund.
  • Technology shifts quickly.
  • World population, global warming, megacities.
  • China is the future.
  • International travel both Americans abroad and visitors from overseas: internationalization of trails.
  • Spreading of life around the planet; e.g. invasive species.
  • National policies: loss of funds for public land, loss of skilled workers.

Long Term Objectives (after discussion)

1. Resolve NTTP governance model

2. Identify trails skills experts.

3. Identify training needs.

4. Be universally known by and useful for all types of trails groups and agencies.

5. All trail nonprofit organizations obtain training opportunities to meet their needs.

6. Develop and enhance capacity to provide and/or financially support training.

7. Encourage states to use COTI model to enhance training at the state level.

What can I or my agency/group contribute? (Referring to numbered objectives above)

Partnership for National Trails System: 2,3 - identify skills expertise and needs

Fish and Wildlife Service: 2, 3, 4 for both staff and partners

Federal Highway Administration: 3 - Identify and meet training needs for State agencies especially supports 2, 6, and in the future, 7

Tread Lightly!: 5 - update listing; 4 - update marketing plan, promote NTTP and training in courses

American Trails: 2 through 7

Discussion

All partners need to address #1 governance issue

Encourage as many states as possible to get more involved in training.

Short Term Action Items

FHWA cooperative agreements with various trail groups and projects by September 30 will include NTTP funding

FWS agreements with American Hiking Society and American Trails and Partnership for National Trails by September 30.

Include trails training in Transportation program reauthorization white papers (all Federal agencies)

FWS will add NTTP logo with link to NTTP to their website

(Goal 1) American Trails to survey NTTP partners with options seeking better governance (over the next year)

(Goal 2) American Trails updating websites with experts listed on online training provider database

(Goal 3) Agencies to identify needs for training skills:

National Scenic/Historic Trail training needs assessment.

Include nonprofit organizations for NST/NHTs - needs assessment by January 2007; then use same method more widely.

Competencies Committee (gaps between needs and opportunities)

FWS trails inventory underway, e.g. Interagency Trail Data Standards and UTAP

Report on progress October 2006

(Goal 4) Outreach Committee

Monica to host committee meeting

Add Tim Stone to committee (now superintendent at Cowpens National Battlefield)

Periodic status reports on Marketing Plan

5. Future Discussion Topics ("the bin")

Why are there so few Partners at this meeting?

What can we do to enhance attendance?

Governance models and organization issues for NTTP

Outreach to involve States, tribal governments, local governments

Reports from American Trails on accomplishments

Lots of opportunities for grant application

Outreach to new State Trail Coordinators

Targeted Outreach to specific people: training coordinators, State programs, and organization staff

Federal Lands trails center to include training

6. Follow Up

Good positive ideas

Insightful facilitation

Identified tangible short term actions

NTTPs existence assured

Nice facilities

Get people to the meetings

Look at options for meeting dates

7. Next Meeting

At Quad Cities at end of National Trails Symposium

October 22: afternoon committee meeting, and/or

October 23: morning NTTP meeting

Adjourn 4:30 p.m.

Notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald with additions by Steve Elkinton.

 

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