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NTTP Partnership meeting:
February 14, 2013

Notes from National Trails Training Partnership meeting, February 14, 2013 - Trailbuilders Conference - Albuquerque, New Mexico




William Bittner, Great Lakes Trailbuilders
Tony Boone, Tony Boone Trails, LLC
Steve Burns, NPS National Trails Intermountain Region
Christopher Douwes, FHWA Recreational Trails Program
Coreen Kolisko, NPS National Trails Intermountain Region
Stuart Macdonald, NTTP Project Manager for American Trails
Tip Ray, Beneficial Designs
Kristin Van Fleet, NPS National Trails Intermountain Region
Natalie Villwock-Witte, Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center


Kim Frederick, Jefferson County Open Space
Pam Gluck, American Trails
Jan Hancock, Equestrian advocate, Arizona
Shawn Hudson, American Motorcyclist Association, Washington, DC
Kit Keller, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
Troy Scott Parker, TrailShape




Introductions and Discussion on Training

Meeting called to order at 3:10 p.m.

Stuart Macdonald - We generally go around the table and ask participants and those on the phone to talk about training they are providing, other resources, topics for more discussion.

Kim Frederick - Mentioned survey for NTTP on trail learning issues. Working with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado on their trail skills programs with an emphasis on both staff and volunteers. For Colorado State Parks, developing a cadre of climbing experts to make improvements to climbing access routes, working closely with climbing groups and volunteers. Secured funding from State Dept of Labor and Colorado State Parks to host training for young adults learning a variety of stewardship and outdoor resources skills. Southern Utah University in Cedar City has an Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) program that is another training opportunity. Funding from several sources to train interns for several skill areas.

Jan Hancock - Currently out speaking to agencies especially on learning equestrian trail building and management. Showing the relationship between how horses use trails and other trail users. Serving as consultant and trail planner on several projects around the country. In Arizona, Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona is doing great work and developing a cadre of trainers for trail skills. Works with other trail organizations to improve their volunteers' skills. Equestrians in Arizona do a lot of trail maintenance and renovation for the federal agencies. Jan's book on Equestrian trail design is available online and printed, funded by FHWA since 2008 and reprinted recently.

Kit Keller - APBP offers monthly webinar program, third wed of each month for an hour or a little longer. Try to keep cost reasonable, encourage groups to get together at one site to participate. Wide variety of bicycle and pedestrian topics. Conference will be in Boulder Sept. 9-12, 2013. Urban emphasis but growing emphasis on trails. Other topics will include way finding, Cyclovias, AASHTO urban bikeways design guide, bicycle parking. Christopher encouraged people to join APBP just for the listserv on bike/ped topics.

Troy Scott Parker - Has been working on conceptualizing every aspect of trails. The idea is that we can understand trails in a very simple way. The goal is to be able to predict, evaluate, and generate trails for any context. Then you can generate training specific to whatever context is appropriate. We tend to have many people in their own worlds of trails and trail activities. But all of these worlds have a common foundation. It would be a whole lot easier to conceptualize trails from that commonality. Troy has looked at his trail concepts which he has written about over the years and still finds valid. He has two future book in progress. One is called "Trailshaping: generating natural surface trails" and the second is on trail structures. He has done a lot of training -- challenges of conveying enough information to people, and they can only absorb it so fast.

Christopher Douwes - The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has an ongoing cooperative agreement with American Trails to operate NTTP. FHWA also has an agreement with the USFS Technology and Development Center for making a wide range of publications on trail topics available in print as well as on the Internet. FHWA has ongoing agreements with Tread Lightly!, American Council of Snowmobile Associations, and the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center for the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. An agreement with NOHVCC will end, and is hoped to be replaced with a new contract for OHV safety and education. The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) replaced the Transportation Enhancement Activities. An agreement with the Rails to Trails Conservancy is planned to be replaced. Recreational trails are now eligible for TAP funds and for Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds: this is a change from strict transportation focus.

Willie Bittner - Does a lot of training with youth and conservation corps. Trail training really needs to be hands on. There are some good written guides like Troy Parkers book as well as the MN trail construction guide that Troy was involved in. Plans to document more of his training to be able to share with American Trails and others. Includes rigging, construction, sustainable trails, trail psychology,. Worked for CA, VT, WI, and MN corps organizations. They were typically only getting 2-3 days of training. He started WisCorps. Puts new leaders through a three-week skills course. Includes rigging, stone paving, accessible trails, bridges, and boardwalks, etc. Result is a much higher quailty of product for project sponsors.
Stuart asked about funding for these trail training and construction projects.

Much of the training is done as part of actual trail work. Investing in the technical training results in better work. Working with new partners and universities on better techniques for invasive species. A trail that is properly built is more cost effective in the long term.

Christopher - This is why this organization (NTTP) exists-- to get trails done correctly.
Stuart - See our recent article by board member John Favro on money spent year after year on bad trails:

Tony Boone - Travelling to do work for IMBA Australia, in Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Is here for the PTBA meetings and new dozer certification class by PTBA. There are really only a handful of different trail building vehicle types. Safety and environmental impacts. In the long run certification for high lining stone, dry stone, excavators, walk behind vehicles, crushed stone for accessibility.

Stuart - One example of certification is fire training-- red card awarded after completing very specific path to training with objective skills and certified curriculum.

Coreen, Kristin and Steve are all Landscape Architects for NPS. Major interest is National Historic Trails. A new emphasis with the nine national historic trails they represent is to look at the potential for trails on the ground. There is really no difference in the regulations between Scenic and Historic national trails. Looking at ways to follow the historic routes with trails on the ground. Looking for new partners in every area that can be helpful.

Natalie - Sarbanes Technical Assistance Center supports NPS, BLM, FWS, USFS on transit and trail-related
tech support, including materials and construction. Transit in Parks is another program. Used to be funded until current transportation authorization. Continuing to work on a variety of projects but long term outlook for the program is unclear. See

Pam - Extended invitation to American Trails' Symposium. This is the first one to be called the "international Trails Symposium." Will be held April 14-17 not far east of Phoenix area at resort on tribal land. Many learning opportunities for attendees, including Trail Tools Equipment Expo, longer Core Tracks session, additional Featured Workshops, and 52 concurrent sessions on many trail topics. Will include trail crew leadership, trail maintenance programs, an adaptive paddling workshop, and training from Tread Lightly. CEUs will be offered for many of these educational programs.

American Trails is also planning more webinars. Have done seven so far. These have proved to be very popular and cost effective. Some are available to purchase as archived webinars. Looking at potential sponsors for these trainings to reduce costs even further. See more information at

Stuart handed out flyers on workshops offered by American Trails as well as website resources on accessible trails and other topics. These online resources are branded with NTTP on the website.
NTTP is promoting training nationwide. We are eager to publicize the training opportunities by anyone. The online training is an example of a simple task that needs to be done. We've been running the online calendar for about 10 years. Finding all the training that's available and helping more people know about it. We're the ones who have taken on this role of both research and publicity. who is doing training that we don't know about? See the Online Calendar at

Willie - Does a lot of training for crew leaders and youth and conservation corps members. Some years ago began discussions based on concerns of experts leaving the field. Contractors have become involved in training through PTBA. Our challenge is how to transfer these old skills and teach new skills. Building better trails, building appropriate, sustainable trails is at the bottom of everything we do. Making people more aware of training that is available, collecting resources and written materials to make available through the website, documenting the skills of trail building and management, make it available and share it. National Trails Training Partnership, thank FHWA for support and funding through these conferences, other training opportunities, and NTTP efforts. Stuart asked how are youth and conservation corps people being trained?

Steve Burns and Troy Parker had questions about NTTP survey.

Stuart - On the NTTP training survey, A good mix of responders from every level of government from communities to the federal government. Also represented different trails interests, and local and national organizations. We found that training is not a burning issue for most people, but the quality and availability of training could be improved. Endlessly replicated, cross fertilization for some basic training such as crew leadership. We keep finding the need for new skills, training more people to a higher level of competence. Youth and conservation corps for example, have raised their training considerably.

See more about the survey at:

See survey results and summaries by respondent type at:

Steve - Returning to the topic of national historic trails and efforts to trace out trails along those historic routes. There is a big disconnect between the public knowing about the historic trails and where they are.Concerns that National Historic Trails doesn't really fit in with other types of trails training.
Question: what is the history and relationship of American Trails with historic trails? know that National Scenic Trails have been more involved over the years.

Stuart - When I started working for Colorado State Parks in 1984, one of the first meetings I went to was with NPS people who came up from Santa Fe to talk about the Santa Fe trail. Wow, what an intergalactic concept, I thought but that was the last I heard of it for years. So one thing that has changed is that through the efforts of Gary Werner and others focusing attention on the NSHTs, we hear a lot more about the individual support groups and volunteer efforts for these long distance trails. Stuart represented American Trails and the State Trail Administrators during an effort by BLM in 2006-2010 to identify skills related to NSHT, survey people involved in trails. See the discussion on this project with links to reports:

Out of the BLM NSHT survey, we also generated a valuable set of specific trail-related skills sorted by dozen major topics, with over 100 different competencies, which we compiled and added to a new area for the NTTP website:

For both American Trails and NTTP, our goal has been to share more about these efforts, what kinds of physical trails are being planned, management issues, etc.

Pam - American Trails is really about providing resources for all types of trails as well as all types of users. Recreational Trails Program database, National Recreation Trails, working with State Trails Programs. At National Trails Symposium in Chattanooga, the NSHT groups held an adjacent meeting, but we also had a big parade celebrating the different NSHT trails, native Americans, etc. that was very well received.

Stuart - One thing that is very applicable to historic trails is the efforts being made to with other long-distance routes. The challenge is having the concept or the general route, and helping people create a great experience where there may not be a lot of actual trail on the ground.

Steve - The National Trails Act says that the historic trails are supposed to follow these specific routes. We're embracing the idea with historic trails. The challenge is how to get these trails built, understanding how different players and jurisdictions can work together. Also looking at necessary skills and techniques.

Stuart - Comparison with Scenic Byways where you have a historic driving tour and are looking for opportunities. Have you worked on plans or feasibility studies, or looked at potential projects?

Steve - The vision is to create real trails on the ground. The Santa Fe Trail in partnership with Boy Scouts at Philmont, created a 30-mile stretch of trail in NM. Scouts from all over the country are learning from this work.

Christopher - American Trails deals with all kinds of trails regardless of their interest or activity. AT doesn't try to take over the roles of groups like the Partnership for the National Trail System, whose job is specifically to help with funding, policy, and federal activities related to these designated trails.
The question is how are we going to fund trails training, since there doesn't seem to be a specific commitment from federal programs.

Stuart - How are we going to get people to pay for training? It's unlikely we're going to get federal dollars for major training efforts; the trend has been for business and contractors to do "fee for service" training, as well as some foundations to provide funding for training programs.
The key is making more cost effective training. What is it that people really need and how can you deliver it for a reasonable cost? Some programs, no matter how popular, are just not viable for the cost.

Pam - We welcome your articles on these kinds of projects. Goal of American Trails and NTTP is sharing ideas and expertise on many kinds of trail planning, development, and management. We also try to put people with similar interests in touch with each other.

Stuart asked Willie about his ideas on training needs.

Willie - Need for people to get similar training that is best quality. The goal would be for national recognition. A national training center? Believes there are corporations that have been supportive of community-based efforts and that training could be fundable.

Steve - There is a national Historic Preservation Training Center for NPS staff; operated by NPS and is part government and part foundation. See

Jan - BLM National Training Center is another resources, and they have been emphasizing distance learning, including video in the field. Jan has developed a six-session course for BLM Training Center that is waiting for funding. Don Sharpio is now director of BLM National Training Center.

Stuart - We have not received any information for at least a couple of years on whether any training is available to the public from BLM National Training Center.

Stuart - We have discussed the idea of a national trails training center several times over the years. But federal centers such as BLM national training center and Carhart National Wilderness Training Center have struggled with funding and accomplishing their mission. Even the Interagency Trails Training Course ("Trails 101") has been discontinued indefinitely. Would be skeptical that funding at the level needed would ever come from the federal government, especially if the concept is not tied to a specific federal agency.

Christopher - Training is just not a priority like fire, for instance. Individual projects seem much more fundable. Nor is there a requirement for states to set aside funding for training.

Stuart - We have been promoting this concept for quite a few years. American Trails is also working with state trail administrators to help them see many alternatives and effective training ideas to spend their safety/education RTP funds.

Employment and opportunities for youth are the key words for federal agencies and the administration. Private sources are more interested in education and jobs for young people than general support for public lands.

Willie - Another valuable kind of information is helping people know who is doing training.
Hybrid contracting - Defined as training as part of project work, funded by project expenditures, is also important.

Willie - PTBA is pursuing trail dozer certification right now. Goal is that next year at WV conference PTBA will be certifying operators, and use that model for other types of technical skills. Currently has instructor certification for chain saw operation. The skills and certification issue also is important from the perspective of bidding. Municipalities and project sponsors are in a difficult position when low bidders have no trail experience at all.

Meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.



List of NTTP Steering Committee members and a comprehensive list of agencies and organizations supporting the National Trails Training Partnership.

NTTP Home Page:

Featured Training Providers:

About NTTP:

Calendar of Trainings:

Resources and Library:

Accessible Trails and ADA issues index:

American Trails workshops:

Download free on-demand webinar on DOJ power-mobility device rule:

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