This award is given in recognition of successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.
Jeff Wiggins is a Trails Planner/Coordinator for the City of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
This nomination acknowledges, celebrates and reinforces Jeff's tireless efforts in trail planning, design, implementation and maintenance in the Cheyenne urban area to improve the community’s access to trails, active transportation and recreation.
Wyoming’s largest city with nearly 60,000 residents, Cheyenne enjoys over 33 miles of greenway trails, a 10 feet concrete urban pathway that serves both utilitarian and recreational users. Cheyenne is in the heart of the Old American West where fiscally conservative policies often trump quality of life investments such as parks and trails.
However, in spite of these challenges, Jeff has been an outstanding champion for the Cheyenne Greenway trail system. When Jeff accepted the Trails Planner position in 2006, approximately 15 miles of trails existed in Cheyenne. Less than six years later, the trail network in Cheyenne has more than doubled to 33 miles, closing important gaps and resulting in a more continuous and safe system, linking neighborhoods to schools, parks and commercial areas.
Jeff’s background in planning and design enables him to apply a more comprehensive approach to problem solving, advocacy, building partnerships and developing a successful and well-used trail system. He wears several hats and switches with ease from one task to the other. His numerous responsibilities include day to day Greenway maintenance, project development, overseeing planning and design, construction management, advocating for and pursuing funding opportunities for building future trail network, fundraising for and overseeing the Cheyenne Greenway Foundation, facilitating the Greenway Advisory Committee and answering questions and concerns from the public. These responsibilities are not spelled out in his job description. These are responsibilities that he has happily embraced because of his passion and dedication to bicycling, walking, health and environment.
Jeff’s interest in advocacy, planning and public service comes from a different and unique perspective. While teaching at a Community College for six years, Jeff actively volunteered and advocated for policies that enhanced his community’s health and environment.
An avid bicyclist all his life, his energy was often focused on improving trails and non-motorized amenities for people of all walks of life. Issues that are near and dear to his heart include social and environmental justice with appropriate access of services such as trails to low income neighborhoods and minimization of adverse impacts to the natural and built environment.
Fresh out of school, Jeff sought a uniquely challenging and exciting opportunity where he could apply these principles and marry his passion to his job. Cheyenne fit the bill and he accepted the responsibility to manage the community’s Greenway trail system without hesitation.
Over the years, Jeff has achieved great success for Cheyenne, working with internal and external agency staff, partner organizations, developers and private landowners. He has been an outspoken advocate and ambassador for the Cheyenne Greenway system as well as bicycling in general. He certainly has a positive, "get-it-done" attitude and approach. In a community that is very fiscally conservative with no dedicated source of funding for trail expansion, it is a pleasant surprise to see that Jeff has ensured that the Greater Cheyenne Greenway has become one of the region’s best assets and continues to expand every year. The Children’s Health Magazine recently ranked Cheyenne amongst the top ten places to raise a family and the Greenway trail system was specifically identified as something that families value highly.
Beneath the positive, energetic and passionate personality that Jeff embodies lies a very pragmatic person. He has patiently and tirelessly explored every possible avenue to enhance the trail system in Cheyenne. Jeff has shown great tenacity and creativity in securing funding, bringing in $1.65 million through federal and state grants and $2.8 million from a local Specific Purpose and Use Tax. Such funding has ensured that the trail system grows on a regular and sustainable basis providing transportation and recreational access throughout the greater Cheyenne area.
Jeff has also been prudent in taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves as development proposals come along. His painstaking negotiations with property owners have secured the City precious easements, land donations and even construction of greenway segments that provide important neighborhood connections. Developers and property owners are now understanding the value of the greenway system, seeing a boost in their property values, and therefore work more collaboratively with the City to connect to the trail network.
Jeff’s vision to grow and enhance the Greater Cheyenne Greenway Trail System in order to provide walking and biking access to everyone in the community is now a reality. But this is not the end. With recent adoption of the Updated Greenway Plan, Jeff is already blazing ahead with plans to implement future recommendations. I hope that you will agree and celebrate Jeff’s vision and applaud his tremendous accomplishments in providing the Cheyenne community access to an extraordinary trail network that enhances their health, happiness and quality of life.