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Symposium Highlights and May 2015 e-Newsletter


Trail Tracks is our monthly e-Newsletter with links to, one of the world's most comprehensive online resources for planning, designing, building, funding, managing, and enhancing trails, greenways, and blueways. We also bring you news from the halls of Congress, new studies and resources, interesting articles, events, training opportunities, and the latest in trail products and services. Check out the topics below for what's new in the trails world!


  whatshotWHAT'S HOT 

Join us in Portland for the Symposium! Register today! 

The 2015 International Trails Symposium will include over 120 educational sessions, 37 workshops, networking opportunities, an indoor trails and greenways exhibit hall, and an outdoor trade show and demonstration area. Register early to secure your spot in American Trails Mobile and Featured Workshops and PTBA Sustainable Trails Workshops!


Hot off the Press:  


Click here to download the Symposium Program... 


Don't forget ~ American Trails members save on registration rates!

You can join the American Trails network when you register for the Symposium.  


Truly an International Trails Symposium!


We welcome all of our international friends from across the globe! Over 40 presenters, attendees, and award recipients from 16 nations will be joining us:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • Nepal (in spirit)
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Turkey


There are 12 international sessions to choose from! Learn about trails, including pilgrimage routes, that are contributing to a country's health and economic vitality and learn new perspectives on how to plan, design, build, advocate for, fund, and market trails from around the world. Share knowledge and successes to improve trails worldwide. Network and share your success stories with our visitors.




WE WILL MISS OUR NEPALESE FRIENDS: We were looking forward to having seven delegates from Nepal, in association with The Great Himalaya Trail and the Ministry of Tourism, join us in Portland. But with the devastation that occurred due to the massive 7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th, just three weeks prior to the start of the Symposium, they are, of course, no longer able to come. We were very pleased to hear from our contacts in Nepal a few days after the earthquake, and even more pleased to learn they were okay.


We are part of a global community, and please know our hearts go out to you and to everyone in your beautiful country. We will miss having you with us at the Symposium.



The Spring issue of the American Trails Magazine is here!


This issue includes a large spread on the 2015 International Trails Symposium taking place in Portland, Oregon May 15-21. It will feature articles on trails in the Portland and surrounding areas and the most up-to-date information on the Symposium. The Spring issue also features information about how American Trails' 2013 "Best Trails State" Award helped get Missourians moving and has become the "award that keeps on giving" in Missouri. In addition, learn about the latest resources and training opportunities for trails professionals and more. Read now...


Senate introduces National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act

The National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act is intended to respond to the status and causes of the National Forest trail maintenance backlog. It would would direct the Forest Service to develop strategies to more effectively use volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails.Senate Bill 1110  is a companion bill to H.R. 845 which is currently in the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced at the request of Back Country Horsemen of America, Wilderness Society, and American Horse Council. Read more...


Poll: voters want federal funding for trails, walking, and biking


A recent poll found that four times as many voters favor increasing or maintaining current levels of federal investment in walking and biking paths. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy sponsored a survey that found that support was strongest among Democrats, but an overwhelming majority of Republicans also supported the federal role in building infrastructure for biking and walking. The message that active transportation is affordable and produces a strong return on investment seems to resonate strongly with voters.  Read poll summary... (pdf 1.5 mb)



National organizations support Transportation Alternatives


Support for the Transportation Alternatives Program is a key issue with the federal transportation authorizations expiring May 31. The Safe Routes to School National Partnership gathered quotes from 16 national organizations about why they support federal funding for bicycling and walking programs. A letter supporting Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act (Senate Bill 705) was signed by 42 organizations. Download the letter supporting TAPIA and the quotes from organizations...  



Recreation Participation Report counts Americans outdoors


According to The Outdoor Foundation's 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, nearly 143 million Americans, or 49.2 percent of the US population, participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2013. The study is based on an online survey capturing responses from over 40,000 Americans ages six and older and covers 114 different activities. Download the 46-page report... (pdf 2.1 mb)



NPS and National Park Foundation launch #Findyourpark


The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation have announced the launch of Find Your Park, which they describe as "a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and setting the stage for the next 100 years." The new website features inspirational stories from the general public, National Park Service employees, and celebrities. Read more...



Intertwine Alliance and Portland-area wildlife refuges will manage new investment   


The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that Portland-Vancouver area National Wildlife Refuges will receive $1 million a year in funding to engage urban communities and youth in conservation and outdoor recreation. The Intertwine Alliance helped the refuges obtain the grant, and will play a key role in implementing it. Read more... 



USDOT Secretary Foxx ped/bike safety sign-on letter

USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx has provided great leadership and focus on increasing the safety of people walking and bicycling. However, while great strides are being made through "Safer People, Safer Streets" and the Mayor's challenge, the expected policy component of this safety initiative has not visibly advanced. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is requesting your help to communicate to USDOT Secretary Foxx the importance of making strategic reforms to administrative policies and practices during his tenure to prevent thousands of tragic fatalities and injuries. This sign on letter seeks to maximize the impact of DOT's safety policy agenda for people walking and cycling. The deadline for signing on to the letter is COB Monday, May 11th! Learn more and read the letter...  


May 17-20, 2015 ~ Portland, Oregon


American Trails hosts the next International Trails Symposium in Portland May 17-20, 2015.


The Symposium addresses most aspects of trails, greenways, and blueways. Learn from dozens of educational sessions and mobile workshops and network with experts and enthusiasts from across the globe. The theme for this year's Symposium is "Solutions for Success."


Thank you to our major partner, the Professional Trailbuilders Association and our local host and major planning partner, Metro, as well as to our major sponsors to date:


Oregon State Parks and Recreation, REIMIG, Inc., The Intertwine AllianceNorthwest Youth Corps, Alta Planning + Design, the Bureau of Land ManagementNational Park ServiceUS Fish & Wildlife Service, the USDA Forest Service, the US DOT Federal Highway Administration, Moda Health, and Trails Unlimited.  



Come early to attend Sunday events!


There are several free public events on Sunday, May 17 that you will not want to miss:


  • PTBA Outdoor Trade Show and Demonstration Area (8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)
  • Exhibit Hall Opens: This is the best day to visit with exhibitors! (12:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.)
  • 5th Annual Metro Trails Fair and American Trails Building Public Awareness Event for Trails in the Exhibit Hall (12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.) ~ OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
  • 8 Concurrent Sessions (12:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
  • Horse Trails Caucus (3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
  • Happy Trails Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall (5:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.)


Download a flyer for Sunday events...

Register today for American Trails Mobile and Featured Workshops!

Workshops are filling up fast and are on a first come, first serve basis. Register today to reserve your spot! Below are workshops that still have space available.

Mobile Workshops:
  • Walk the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail
  • Canoe the Willamette River (In 2 Person Canoes)
  • Canoe the Willamette River (In One Large Canoe)


Featured Workshops: 

  • Strategic Thinking for Decision Making
  • Horse Trails Caucus
  • Becoming Compliant with the Accessibility Guidelines for Developed Areas



FEATURING the Professional Trailbuilders Association Sustainable Trails Workshops and Outdoor Trade Show 


The Professional Trailbuilders Association (PTBA) and the American Trails International Trails Symposium (AT ITS) are proud to announce an exciting new partnership program -- the Sustainable Trails Workshop Series and Outdoor Demonstration Area and Trade Show.


PTBA logo  


Sustainable Trails Workshop Series 

PTBA workshops can be purchased independently from a Symposium registration. You can register for PTBA workshops through the Symposium online Registration system...  


Learn about The Legacy Trail that these Sustainable Workshops will help build. 


Outdoor Trade Show
The PTBA Outdoor Demonstration Area and Trade Show will run on Sunday, May 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., during the American Trails International Trails Symposium. This is the only trade show in the nation dedicated to trailbuilders and trailbuilding tools, technology, and techniques. The outdoor demonstration area will have dirt, terrain, rocks, logs, and brush for equipment demonstrations. It is the single best opportunity for attendees to try various machines and equipment in a variety of conditions and compare and contrast them with one another. What better way for your company to market your cutting-edge trailbuilding tools, technologies, and products!

To sign up as a vendor to display your equipment in the Outdoor Trade Show, be sure and mark this on the exhibitor form. You must be an exhibitor in order to participate in the Outdoor Trade Show and there is a small additional fee.

Contact for an exhibitor form or for more information.

Meet the Emerging Leaders attending the Symposium on scholarship!

This year's Symposium will bring 16 Emerging Leaders (ages 19-25) from across the country and abroad to learn the foundations of establishing a career in the trails world. Click here to meet all the Emerging Leaders...


Exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities 


The Sponsorship & Exhibitor Packet is available online! Exhibitors get to choose their booth location in the order they send in their contract and payment (some exceptions apply). If you are interested in more recognition, we still have larger sponsorship levels available with some excellent benefits to boost promotion for your organization. Download the Sponsorship & Exhibitor Packet now...


Thank you to our sponsors and exhibitors to date:

Learn more about the upcoming and past Symposiums...


Contact Candace Mitchell, Sponsor & Exhibitor Coordinator, if you have any questions at 


Volunteer opportunities are available during the Symposium!


We have volunteer positions to fit a variety of skill sets or time commitments. Volunteer positions include: registration check-in, merchandise sales, silent auction coordination, exhibit hall set up, room hosting/monitoring, and more!


A big thank you to The Intertwine Alliance for being the Volunteer Coordinator!   


See a complete listing of Volunteer opportunities here... 



June is Great Outdoors Month™ 2015!

This June, celebrate the natural wonder and outdoor spirit of America by getting outside during Great Outdoors Month. What started as Great Outdoors Week under President Clinton in 1998 has grown significantly under both the Bush and Obama administrations into a month-long celebration of the outdoors and all the benefits it brings - including annual economic impact of $650 billion nationwide. Read more...


National Trails DayŽ is June 6

The American Hiking Society sponsors National Trails DayŽ every year. Events will take place in every state and will include hikes, biking, horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects, and more. If you are interested in leading or organizing an event, check the AHS website for host guides and prep materials. Read more...



Some of the Portland area's best trails are in Vancouver, WA


The Longview Daily News says that Portland trail enthusiasts may be surprised to find that some of the nicest paved trails in the region are in urban Vancouver, Washington. "One 8-mile-long trail cuts right through the heart of Vancouver, with parts that are remarkably woodsy. Other trails go for miles along or near the Columbia River, with the views including sailboats, sea lions, and Mount Hood." Read more and see photos...



South Carolina community, campus, and wildlife refuge seek trail connection


The City of Conway, South Carolina is paying $40,000 for a study to look at what it would take to build a biking/hiking trail from the city to the Coastal Carolina University campus. Officials with the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge have also been closely following the trail discussions. The refuge has nearly 600 acres designated for recreation near the campus. Read more and see photos...



Trail Traveler offers tablet-size digital magazine


Trail Traveler is a new digital magazine downloadable for iPad and Android tablets from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The publication is intended as a guide for planning trail trips with day-by-day itineraries and places to eat, play, and stay. The first issue features popular rail trails, including the Bizz Johnson, Elroy-Sparta, and Wallkill Valley. Read more... 



Portland's Tilikum Crossing "Bridge of the People" will be rail with trail bridge


A new bridge over the Willamette River will be the largest car-free transit bridge in the U.S., carrying light rail trains, buses, streetcars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Walkers and cyclists will have their own 14-foot wide lanes, but private cars and trucks will not be permitted. The 1,720-foot cabled-stayed bridge features colorful night lighting. Read more and see photos and videos...



Musical trail provides outdoor instruments in Buffalo, Minnesota


The Buffalo Rotary Music Trail winds along a lake adjacent to the downtown area taking people from one percussive instrument to another. The Music Trail became a community wide effort with the Buffalo Rotary Club raising funds for the 11 instruments. The Parks and Recreation Board donated the installation cost of the instruments along Buffalo Lake in Sturges Park. Read more and see photos...



The view from the wheelchair: accessible trails in the San Francisco Bay Area


Mark Hehir shares his reviews and experiences with accessible trails in the San Francisco Bay Area from a wheelchair user's perspective: "I've been visiting parks and open spaces preserves the last few years and posting reviews and videos of the accessible trails I've visited. I'm also a volunteer for the Santa Clara County Parks. I'm helping them make the County parks more inclusive for everyone."  See Mark's accessible trail videos and photos... 



Featured Recreational Trails Program-funded project: Potts Memorial Park 


The City of Salisbury, Missouri used Recreational Trails Program funds to improve the trails in Potts Memorial Park. An important goal was making the trail more accessible to those with disabilities. Prior to the project, trails were typically only two and a half feet wide. The trail surface was also rough, with washouts in many areas. The trail now has a crushed rock surface that is packed nearly as hard as asphalt, allowing wheelchair users to easily maneuver the trail's course. Read more and see photos... 



Featured National Recreation Trail: SC Revolutionary Rivers Water Trail


This 66-mile trail on scenic waterways offers a series of short excursions, overnight rustic camping opportunities, and reminders of the Revolutionary War. The route follows the scenic Lynches River through the cypress and tupelo swamplands frequented by Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion. To guide paddlers, mile markers and directional signs are placed on wood duck nesting boxes along the river trail. Read more and see photos...  



10 plans for elevated "High Line" parks around the world


The High Line in New York City is one of the most well-known elevated parks, but around the world there are many similar urban reclamation projects underway. The success of the High Line inspired many other cities around the world to reuse and rethink space around old rail lines. Here are 10 plans from Europe, Canada, Australia, Asia, the United States, and Mexico. Read more and see photos...



Israel's Gospel Trail: Nazareth to Capernaum


The Gospel Trail begins at Mount Precipice, on the southern outskirts of Nazareth, traveling through limestone hills and fertile valleys, past ancient towns and modern villages, to the site of ancient Capernaum, on the shores of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). The route incorporates established trails and pathways that have been traveled since ancient times by shepherds and farmers, merchants and pilgrims, armies, kings, and prophets.  Read more and see photos... (pdf 1.1 mb)



Is the "world's most dangerous path" in Spain?


The Daily Mail reports on El Caminito del Rey, which was a popular challenge for adventurers until five people died on the path during 1999-2000. "But 14 years after it was closed due to safety fears, the famous walkway-known as the most dangerous in the world-is set to reopen to the public." The precarious walkway rises over 100 metres (328 ft) above the river below in a narrow gorge in the Spanish province of Malaga. Read more and see photos...



Access recorded webinars from American Trails


Recordings of webinars previously presented by American Trails are available through our online Store. A total of 23 webinars have been archived; some are available for purchase while access to others are free. Both natural surface and urban trail topics are included, as well as water trails, accessibility, and equestrian facilities. We'll resume live presentations this summer in continuing the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series." See the list of archived and scheduled webinars...



Designing accessible pedestrian facilities


A 68-slide presentation on accessibility for pedestrians, compiled by Keith Skilton of the Federal Highway Administration, NJ Division, is available. The focus is on transportation-related facilities and rights-of-way. Curb cuts and street crossings are covered in detail, with extensive photos marked up with dimensions and critical points. The appropriate laws and guidance are cited and explained for various facilities. Download the presentation "Designing Pedestrian Facilities for Accessibility"... (pdf 6.0 mb)



Best Practices: Trailside benches and seating facilities


Make your trail-side seating areas more useful by providing what people want. Our newest gallery of photos highlights benches and seating. Perhaps more important than choice of materials is the location of a seating area. An attractive place to sit makes trails more enjoyable. View photos of different materials for seating areas at trailheads and along a variety of trails. See commentary and gallery of photos in the "Cool Trails Solutions" section of the American Trails website...



How-to guide for careers in natural resources


How do students and graduates make themselves better employment candidates and find success in the natural resources field? This guide covers the wide variety of jobs, education and training requirements, tips on where to start, and opportunities with the range of natural resource agencies. It was produced by the Colorado Youth Corps Association and Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education. Download the 124-page guide... (pdf 18.5 mb)


USDOT hosts webinars on TIGER grant application process


For the 2015 TIGER round, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is offering a series of special topic webinars that delve into various aspects of the TIGER application process. These webinars are a great resource for anyone either considering applying to TIGER this year or actually preparing a TIGER application, as the webinars come from the funding source and share the expertise of USDOT to prospective applicants. Access recorded webinars...



Summer 2015 trails training and educational opportunities  


Here are some of the trail-related training opportunities coming up this winter. See the Online Trails Training Calendar for details... 

May 15-21 - Portland, OR
*American Trails International Trails Symposium and Professional Trailbuilders Association (PTBA) Sustainable Trails Workshops

May 29 - Piqua, OH
*Miami Valley Cycling Summit

June 4-6 - Athens, GA
*Georgia Trail Summit

June 6 - On trails across America
National Trails DayŽ sponsored by the American Hiking Society

June 10-12 - Quad Cities, IA and IL
*Iowa's first statewide bicycle-friendly business conference

June 10-13 - Niagara Falls, NY
*International Snowmobile Congress

June 24-26 - Ann Arbor, MI
*National Water Trails Forum

June 27 - July 1 - Franklin, TN
*15th Conference on National Scenic & Historic Trails

July 14 - Webinar sponsored by League of American Bicyclists
*Federal Policy Update

July 17-24 - Winchester, VA
*Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial Conference  

Contact us with your scheduled training opportunities at



Join American Trails and receive a gift of an 18-ounce Klean Kanteen water bottle!


Klean Kanteen moss  

American Trails is excited to announce a co-brand partnership with Klean Kanteen! Members who join at the Trail Professional level or higher will receive a gift of an 18-ounce stainless steel Klean Kanteen commemorative water bottle celebrating American Trails 25 year anniversary!


Water bottles are also available for purchase in our Online Store.  


Klean Kanteen introduced the first hydration bottle made from stainless steel to give people a safe and healthy alternative to plastic. Their mission, like American Trails, promotes sustainability and healthy lifestyles for everyone. You can learn more about them at


klean kanteen logo  



Working together - works! There is strength in numbers!


For over 25 years, American Trails has been a collective voice for a diverse coalition of enthusiasts, professionals, advocates, land managers, conservationists, and friends of the outdoors and livable cities.


American Trails will continue to keep you informed on both trail know-how and issues critical to the future of trails. With your help, we can increase funding for trails, keep more trails open, and improve the health and well-being of Americans of all ages and abilities, including our children.


American Trails is a tax-exempt, nonprofit charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible.


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Header photo: San Clemente, California Railroad Corridor Beach Trail; photo by Stuart Macdonald