Dedication of the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail

The 1,000th National Recreation Trail dedicated to refuge manager killed on United Flight 93.

by Pam Gluck, Executive Director Emeritus, American Trails

June 02, 2007

Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, June 2, 2007

Good Afternoon,

I am very honored to be here today. Thank you for inviting me to this momentous occasion on the 15th Anniversary of National Trails Day.

American Trails is a national, nonprofit organization working for the benefit of all trail users. For 20 years, American Trails has served as a forum and a catalyst to improve the quality of life for all Americans by pursuing a national infrastructure of trails and greenways. American Trails has been proud to serve as the lead nonprofit entity for facilitating the National Recreation Trails program.

"The National Recreation Trail System connects Americans with the beauty of the great outdoors," Secretary Kempthorne said May 30 in announcing the new trails. "It is entirely fitting that the 1000th trail is named after Rich Guadagno, a man who dedicated his life to preserving nature and sharing his passion for the land with others."

The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorizes the creation of a National Trails System comprised of National Scenic Trails, National Historic Trails, and National Recreation Trails (NRT) in both urban and rural settings for persons of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities.

National Recreation Trails are designated by the Secretary of the Interior, and those in National forests, by the Secretary of Agriculture. Today, Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the designation of 40 new NRTs into the National Trails System. It is an honor to be here today with Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett to celebrate this trail, the 1000th NRT: the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail.

Indeed, as of today, the National Recreation Trails system is now 1,000 trails strong and provides more than 11,000 miles for the American people to enjoy! Oregon now has 61 NRTs, with two others being nearby: the Ankeny Rail Trail, located on Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge, and the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail. There are a total of 55 NRTs on National Wildlife Refuges throughout the country.

The National Recreation Trails program recognizes and celebrates the astonishing diversity of our nation's trails and provides for numerous healthy recreational activities in a variety of urban, rural, and remote settings. They are an important part of America's recreation, conservation, and transportation landscape.

The NRT program recognizes and promotes special and outstanding trails across the nation that exemplify these connections and these values:

  • These are trails that connect people to nature, to each other, and to our shared histories and cultures.
  • These are trails that help instill a sense of pride and stewardship in our national landscape.
  • They bring peace, solace and joy.
  • They promote fitness and outdoor activity.
  • They embody America's values of diversity, community, and volunteerism.
  • They make our people healthy and our communities more livable.
  • They showcase preservation of open space and wildlife habitat.
  • They bring nature to persons with disabilities.
  • They help our kids develop life-long habits of good health and promote stewardship of the land
  • And, National Recreation trails are - Trails that celebrate freedom and America's future!

Designating the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail as the 1,000th National Recreation Trail is an important milestone in trails history and is a clear statement of the significance of trails in America. It is most fitting that the 1,000th NRT celebrate the life of such a great American hero. It is terrifying to think of what might have happened if the courageous Americans on Flight 93 hadn't stood up and resisted. They stepped forward to do the right thing. From what I have been learning about Rich, it is not surprising that he was one of those brave individuals.

Tragically Rich died helping to resist the brutal seizure of United Flight 93. He was a hero that day along with the other passengers and crew, but Rich was also a hero before September 11 because of his vision for this place. He was a hero because he loved our national landscape and because he worked tirelessly to share his passion and pride for this place with the countless people who will visit and enjoy Baskett Slough and Ankeny.

Rich's legacy will continue to touch the lives of many people as they walk along this lovely trail.

Phillip Ferranti wrote a book called Hiking: the Ultimate Natural Prescription for Health. Ferranti says:

Nature becomes our Touchstone. By taking time out from our busy days, hiking or riding out to some natural setting, we feed our souls with the substance of nature's truths. The role of trails is simple - they take us where we may relate, be healed, touched, inspired, and... they provide opportunities to be with families and friends, to create happy memories, to become physically and mentally fit, and allow us to travel from place to place.

Trails are pathways to enable us to "Enjoy the moments..." what is sacred or special in everyday life.

John Muir said "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees, the winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

We are enriched by experiencing the great outdoors and America's public lands are vital infrastructure for the future well being of our nation. Trails are a key that links us to our friends and family and to our land, our country, our planet.

Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, and a leading advocate for creating better and more livable cities, has said that "a quality park or public space is like a magical good that is different from all other goods that we can buy in any shop. It never wears out, it never ceases to yield happiness, even after hundreds of years." National Recreation Trails never cease to yield happiness... and... isn't that what it is all about?

Speaking on behalf of the trails community, we recognize Rich's family and friends here at Baskett Slough, one of the gems in the National Wildlife Refuge System. We want to thank Rich for his dedication to trails and preservation and to his service to his country, and say that we are honored have the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail designated as the 1000th National Recreation Trail. We could not think of anything more fitting!

So as you enjoy this newly named trail take a minute -- feel the peace, feel the tranquility, take in the sights and sounds and remember Rich and be inspired by his vision!

More about the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail

Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail, Oregon

The 1,000th National Recreation Trail dedicated to refuge manager killed on United Flight 93.

About the Author

Pam served as the Executive Director for American Trails from 1997 to 2017.

She has over 30 years of trails and outdoor recreation experience. She owned a hiking, backpacking/cross-country ski touring business for three years and served as the Parks and Recreation Director for the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona for six years. In the latter position, she managed a 580-acre active recreation and open space city park and developed a 200-mile trails system master plan for the region. She also served as the State Trails Coordinator for Arizona for five years. While in this capacity, she co-developed the Arizona State Trails Plan, coordinated the 780-mile Arizona Trail Partnership, managed the Arizona State Trails System, coordinated three state trails conferences, directed the state and federal trails grants programs, developed federal, state, local, and organizational partnerships, and served as staff liaison to the 25-member Arizona State Committee on Trails. Her educational background is in business administration, management and outdoor recreation planning.

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