Friday, June 03, 2011

Trail Funding Continues to Trail Behind

I miss the good old days of the 1970s and 1980s. Seems like back then we had more trails and more funding for trail construction and maintenance. That's because we did! State and federal governments under both Democrats and Republicans allocated fair amounts of money to parks and forests to build and maintain trails--and provide access to them. The money was never enough-but compared to these days of fiscal meltdowns-the money was a windfall. Sure, taxes were higher back then (you get what you pay for) and ironically the extraction of timber from our national forests meant a lot of money coming back to fund roads and trails. But alas, the timber industry has collapsed here in the Northwest and both the federal and state governments aren't giving out too much doe any more for trails and land acquisition. And roads and access? We continue to lose them too and our trail inventory shrinks while our population continues to grow.
What to do then? We certainly can wait for better economic times and vote in government officials that will give us sound fiscal policies and sustainable and adequate funding. But I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. Instead, We the people need to get involved in the private sector and partner with state and federal agencies to help maintain our trails and acquire more public lands. Land trusts are great for protecting land and I belong and actively support a handful of them. Trail organizations fill the gap in keeping our trail system in good shape and I belong to a couple of these groups as well. I throw the bulk of my support to the Washington Trails Association which works statewide building and maintaining our priceless trails in a wide array of public lands from city and county parks to national park and forest wildernesses. But while our trails may be priceless, they do require some funding to keep them open. And that money isn't coming from the government. It's coming from you and me-or at least I hope it is coming from you and me. I invite you to join the Washington Trails Association and become one of thousands of Washington hikers who put their money where their mouths and boots are.
And I invite you to join the WTA through my 50 for 50 campaign. I have taken it upon myself to raise $10,000 for this organization by running in the White River 50 Mile Endurance trail Run in celebration of my 50th year here on planet earth. Please sponsor me by making a donation to WTA. Of course, any amount will help! But if you donate $20 or more, I will give you a special series Green Trails map ($12 value) and if you donate $40 or more I'll give you a map and you will become a WTA member which entitles you to a subscription to Washington Trails magazine (which I contribute to from time to time). How about it? Can I count on you for a donation and call you a fellow WTA member? It would be a great move to celebrate this year's National Trails Day!
(Picture-A WTA volunteer crew construct a trail on the future Miller Peninsula State Park, WA) 

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