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Curent Activities: National Trails Training Partnership

Partnership Meeting, September 19, 2000

NOTE: Group decisions are IN CAPS.


  • Dana Bell, National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC)
  • Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Francis Duchi, North State Institute for Sustainable Communities (Facilitator)
  • Steve Elkinton, National Park Service (NPS)
  • Jeff Hrycko, Arizona State Parks
  • Al LePage, National Coastal Trail Association
  • Cam Lockwood, USDA Forest Service/Trails Unlimited
  • Stuart MacDonald, State of CO, National Association of State Trail Administrators (NASTA), and American Trails, Web Master
  • Jim Miller, USDA Forest Service
  • Rod Sanders, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Paul Sandhofer, Chugash State Park Citizens Advisory Council
  • Deb Smith, BLM
  • Gary Sprung, International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)
  • Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails System (PFNTS)
  • Doug Wilbur, California State Parks
  • Royce Wood, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)

Deb Smith welcomed everyone, introduced the facilitator, and invited the participants to introduce themselves.

Planning NTTP Workshop for Saturday, September 23:

Facilitator Christopher D. described his opening, asking the question "What training needs do you have?" the rest of the panel outline their 5-minute talks. Dana B. will distribute the one-page NTP fact sheet on chairs beforehand. Deb S. will talk about the recent needs assessment, especially where folks on tight budgets can get training. Stuart M. will demonstrate some of the information already on American Trails' website. The group encouraged workshop leaders to make the session as intereactive as possible: 10 minute opening, 5 5-minute talks, and 30 minutes for dialogue with the audience. ("What is needed to make NTTP work?"). All NTTP stakeholders are encouraged to attend this workshop. Workshop moderator and panelists will meet at 1:00 p.m. (1/2 hour ahead) in the assigned room to prepare.

Gateway Subcommittee Report:

Dana B. reported that the Gateway Subcommittee is closing out its activities with this workshop for the National Trails Symposium. In preparation for this week, an NTTP logo was finalized and incorporated into an attractive banner, WHICH THE GROUP APPROVED. (Jim M. offered Forest Service graphics staff to develop a smaller black-and-white version.) The GROUP ALSO APPROVED Dana's one-page NTTP fact sheet. Deb S. thanked all those who helped the Gateway Subcommittee complete its work.

Website Committee Report:

Stuart Macdonald reported on the evolving "work in progress" website now part of American Trails' website architecture (see This clearinghouse service may also highlight NTTP accomplishments and popular tropical themes. In the future it may include web-based curricula, courses, and other resources. His goal is open access to all relevant types of information.

In the discussion that followed, a number of issues were raised, especially funding (the FHWS Recreational Trails Program may be able to help here). It is important to be realistic about the real costs of this activity and be ready to raise the necessary funds to keep such a website current. The GROUP EXPRESSED GRATITUDE to Stuart for all his fine work getting this clearinghouse underway.

Trails Expert Subcommittee Report:

Christopher D. reported no progress due to higher priority work in his office. Steve E then volunteered to move this listing forward. People at Saturday's workshop and the NTTP booth could be asked to suggest trail experts &endash; as well as the higher-rated speakers at the Symposium.

Discussion covered a lot of territory, including:

  • Expanding the committee to include Cam Lockwood, Jim Schmid (South Carolina Trail Coordinator), Bill Woodward (George mason University), Elvin Clapp (BLM), and Gary Werner (Partnership for the national Trails System).
  • Reaching out to all NTTP participant groups and agencies for suggested experts.
  • Establishing two new subcommittees for funding/outreach and training content (see next section).
  • Revising the NTTP annual work plan to keep priorities fresh. Subcommittees might also be smart to develop annual workplans.

Summary of Subcommittees (both old and new):

Trail Experts Network: Steve E. (convener), Gary Wl, Cam L., Bill woodland, Jim Schmid, and Elvin Clapp. This groups chief duty will be to compile a list of subject-matter experts and distribute it within NTTP. It will also identify and short- or long-term funding needs.

Website Subcommittee: Stuart Macdonald (convener), Jan Hancock, Al L., and Pam Gluck. This group will identify information types that could be incorporated into the website clearinghouse, maintain the web calendar, put resource information on-line, research similar websites for ideas, look at new technologies, and identify short- or long-term needs.

Trails Training Subcommittee: Deb S. and Dana B (co-conveners), Cam L., Jim M., Gary W., and Al L. This group seeks to develop core competencies, identifying gaps between what is offered in the trails training marketplace and what is really needed (according to needs assessments). In the future it may also assess the most successful courses and work on certification of trainees and training programs. For this last subject, Bill Woodward and Elvin Clapp may also be consulted.)

Funding and Outreach subcommittee: Christopher D., Gary W., and Stuart M. This group will collect ideas for funding needs, inventory funding sources, frame up funding proposals as appropriate. One immediate project could be to get funds to underwrite Stuart's website work.

In the ensuing discussion, two key points were raised:

  • Once gaps identified, fund can be raised to address them.
  • A few successful demonstration projects soon could build momentum for NTTP.

Status of the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):

The MOU originated a year ago to formalize the involvement of four Federal agencies and over a dozen non-profit partners recently hit a snag with "FACA." However, both NPS and FS had already signed it. The Federal Advisory Committee Act prohibits ongoing consultations between Federal agencies and citizens or organized groups outside formally established advisory committees.

Strategies to overcome this hurdle:

A. Fix current MOU.

B. Two MOUs, one signed by Feds only, the other by nonprofits. (This, however, could lead to duplicative names, split leadership, and parallel decision-making).

C. Restructuring NTTP to avoid FACA complications by having the coalition of private-sector groups form its core, with the Federal agencies as advisors and supporters (putting the partners "in the driver's seat"). Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace! Might be models for this. A variation could be having one non-profit partner, such as American Trails, be the main sponsor of NTTP.

D. A formally established citizen advisory council. Relevant models might be BLM's resource advisory committees. (Such groups seem to work best when given a short-term charter. Because of current Administration policies on this issue, it may require an act of congress to get it set up. These groups can also get unnecessarily political.)

Discussion included many reactions. Federal agencies already accept certification and guarantees by non-Federal groups. Alt. C would only work if all the nonprofit partners are willing to pull together. Some non-profits may pull out if only one is given the lead. It is desirable to not set up one more trails group. Existing nonprofits (such as Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace!) are not likely to touch this activity if it cannot be financially self-sustaining. To be fully visible and fundable, NTTP needs to have a clear identity &endash; it should not be identified with the agenda of a specific user group. FHWA did sign the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial MOU which included one non-profit partner. Whatever happens, it will still be important to create a joint forum where both Federal and nonprofit trail stakeholders can work together. Is an MOU necessary for NTTP to exist and even raise funds?

One way forward might be to have the existing MOU without FHWA, and FHWA being involved as it saw fit anyway. As follow-up, Chritopher D. and Deb S. will try to fix the existing MOU to suit FHWA and Interior solicitiors. If that doesn't work, they will develop 2 parrallel MOUs (Strategy B above).

Convening Leadership

To prepare the way for future NTTP leadership, the following commitments were made:

Calendar year

Federal Leader

Nonprofit Leader





USFS/Trails Unlimited

American Trails



State of California




Convening leader duties include:

  • Keeping a current full list of active contacts.
  • Organizing annual or semi-annual meetings. These should be scheduled and publicized well ahead.
  • Fostering ongoing action by the subcommittees.
  • Keeping open communications to all active partners. This could mean monthly or bi-monthly reports, perhaps piggy-backing on the minutes of the Federal Interagency Council on Trails.

Deb S. will include in her next message to the nonprofit partners a request to identify the training listings they would like to see posted on the clearinghouse website.

Steve E. pledged to return to his agency and try to "sell" NTTP to his agency colleagues in order to groom in new leadership for future years. When groups and agencies volunteer to lead this group, they should be aware of some of the costs that may result (travel, time, etc.). Meting places don't have to be associated with the lead agencies.

It was suggested that the website be fully up and running by January 1, 2001, and that the NTTP be formally announced on National Trails Day, 2001. Later in 2001 the Trails Training subcommittee may be able to start identifying gaps between needs and offerings.

Notes taken and distributed by Steve Elkinton, National Park Service, 202-565-1177.

Notes copied verbatim for e-mail distribution on November 16, 2000 by Dana Bell, NOHVCC, at 562-438-6527.

The National Trails Training Partnership
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 (530) 547-2060 Fax: (530) 547-2035

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