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SEAtrails: a regional effort for Alaskan trails

The coalition works to improve health opportunities, promote local businesses, connect people and communities, encourage eco-tourism, and increase transportation option.

By Frances Pillifant
SEAtrails co-founder and past board member

Map of AlaskaInspired by the likes of the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and Milford Track, N.Z., SEAtrails, Southeast Alaska Trail Systems (www.SEAtrails.org), is a regional effort to plan, promote, maintain and construct a trail system directing visitor focus to Southeast communities unique, accessible and splendid water and forest trails.

SEAtrails works to advance a number of efforts: improving physical health opportunities locally via recreation facilities, connecting trail users with local businesses and vice versa, helping to connect people and communities, encouraging eco-tourism and adventure travel, increasing transportation options, improving access to communities and villages with Alaska’s Marine Highway System service, providing opportunities for local and regional economic development, and serving as a model for other regional efforts promoting Alaska trails.

photo of group

SEAtrails board members

 

SEAtrails has a strong history of significant accomplishment despite an annual operating budget of less than $3,000, a volunteer board and no paid employees. Accomplishments since May 2006 to the present include:

  • Completed $120,000 worth of trail projects in 10 communities.
  • Secured funding for a second round of trail grants to be awarded in 2008.
  • Applied for and received a National Scenic Byways grant for a mini-mapping project detailing specific, community-focused trails (work began in late 2007).
  • Enabled the first design and installation of a SEAtrails trailhead kiosk in Coffman Cove.
  • Implemented recommendations from the regional Trails and Transportation Master Plan (TTMP) and developed a business and marketing plan for ongoing trail planning, development and facilitation.
  • Promoted the trail system and region with enhancements and marketing efforts driven through an interactive website offering downloadable trail maps and developed and distributed a rack card.
  • Strengthened partnerships with 19 regional communities and multiple federal, state and local agencies
photo: building with sign

Seatrails Kiosk with trails information for visitors and residents

 

SEAtrails also serves as a cooperative partnership model for organizations and groups that are working to build solutions serving diverse groups and interests. SEAtrails works tirelessly to build and strengthen partnerships and garner region-wide support for implementing the SEAtrails mission. What started as a grassroots effort in 2000 has grown to include 19 distinct member communities, each sharing a common goal: create a diverse, stable economy based on recreational opportunities and access to transportation.

SEAtrails partner communities range in size from a small homeowners association of 50 people in Naukati to 30,000 people in the capital city of Juneau. Current member communities include Angoon, Coffman Cove, Craig, Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Naukati, Pelican, Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway, Thorne Bay, Whale Pass, Wrangell and Yakutat. On initiation of SEAtrails, a diverse group of local, state and federal interests were brought together.

photo of ad

SEAtrails rack card promoting trails

SEAtrails continues to nurture relationships with a strong and growing coalition of partners. These include:

State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Alaska Marine Highway System; Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Department of Natural Resources; Federal agencies: Federal Highway Administration; U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service (Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program); a variety of local governments and non-profit and for profits groups, including Southeast Conference; Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA); formalized local trail groups (Sitka Trail Works, Juneau Trail Mix, Ketchikan Outdoor Recreation and Trails Coalition); Southeast Conference (a regional economic development organization); Alaska Wilderness, Recreation, Tourism Association (AWRTA); Southeast Alaska Guidance Association (SAGA) and other partners.

SEAtrails includes and promotes only trails and cultural attractions selected by each community. The directed promotion benefits agencies and residents by focusing visitors away from favorite local trails, subsistence resources and delicate cultural historic sites reducing overuse and creating and maintaining higher quality recreational opportunities on public lands. And due to the inter-connectedness of the SEAtrails network and partnerships, regional and local trail efforts can better leverage trail development dollars.

For more information:

SEAtrails
P.O. Box 240156
Douglas, AK 99824 Phone:
907-747-4237
vista@SEAtrails.org
http://www.seatrails.org

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