For forty years, grassroots maintainers and trail-builders have played an important role in the development and restoration of the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Today, partner trail maintenance organizations like SWITMO (the Skagit, Whatcom, and Island Counties Trail Maintenance Organization) continue that tradition, serving as dedicated trail stewards in the Puget Sound Region of the PNT.
In the future, volunteers will play an increasingly larger role in the maintenance of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Under new funding realities, the expansion of responsibilities granted to the PNTA by the Forest Service, arose out of practical necessity.
During the 2016 season, for example, the PNTA assumed a new role within a multi-tiered partnership, providing support not just the PNTA’s Trail Crews, but also for volunteer coordination, by collaborating with other trail maintenance organizations including: the Back Country Horsemen of Washington, the Washington Trails Association, and the Student Conservation Association.
In 2016, Congress signed the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act, H.R. 845 and S.1110, into law. Created to help address the growing maintenance backlog caused by a lack of funding for trails at the USFS, the Trails Stewardship Act seeks to increase the amount of trail maintenance performed by volunteers by 100% by 2021. This will effectively increase the burden placed on member supported nonprofits, like the PNTA.
With the ongoing challenges of preserving the 1,200 mile PNT, as well as the 23,000 miles of other trails in the Northwest, our nation’s trail maintenance organizations will need to tap into new pools of volunteer labor, and revenue, to assume new outsized roles in keeping our trails open and safe under the Trails Stewardship Act.
If you love our nation’s trails and want to ensure access for future generations of Americans, there is no better time than now to give back and get involved by becoming a member of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association.