Section 508 Navigation
American Trails header Skip Navigation
HomeAbout usTrailsWhat's hotCalendarTrainingResources & libraryPartnersJoin usStore

trail maintenance and management
Hosted by AmericanTrails.org

The Continental Divide Trail belongs to all citizens

Users need to build on common ground, engage with managers, and together undertake thorough and thoughtful planning embracing each other's recreation needs.

By Lyle Laverty

Hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians are all users of the CDT. All of them are enjoying the outdoors, challenging themselves, and gaining new skills, and renewing themselves in the pleasures of activities in the great outdoors. When they meet on this multiple-use (shared-use) trail, sometimes conflict results. Sometimes this conflict includes fear, physical interaction, and other times just plain annoyance at the interruption of their activity or enjoyment of nature. With increasing frequency, as the amount of trail use increases and the kind of users diversifies, conflicts are escalating.

"Providing opportunities for high quality recreation experiences while sustaining the trail systems and natural areas they pass through should be everyone's goal."

To resolve these conflicts, hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians all call on public land managers. Unfortunately these managers are often asked to reduce or eliminate some users on the public lands commons, or build and maintain new trails to provide additional opportunities for single uses as the easiest route to reduce conflict.

With limited budgets and limited public lands these kinds of solutions create winners and losers and often deny access equity to the most under-represented user group. Multiple-use trails are efficient, environmentally friendly, and sometimes the only practical alternative.

Managers alone cannot be expected to resolve these social issues. Users need to build on common ground, engage with managers, and together undertake thorough and thoughtful planning embracing each other's recreation needs.

Providing opportunities for high quality recreation experiences while sustaining the trail systems and natural areas they pass through should be everyone's goal. Research and experience shows that workable solutions can be reached that can manage these often emotional conflicts, given commitment and cooperation among users and managers.

Lyle Laverty was Regional Forester for the USFS Rocky Mountain Region when he wrote these comments, which appeared in the Spring 2001 Continental Divide Trail News.

Related topics:

More resources:

NTTP logo


page footer

Contact us | Mission statement | Board of directors | Member organizations | Site map | Copyright | NRT | NTTP