Now that National Bicycle Month is drawing to a close, National Trails Day offers another reason to celebrate trails. Trails have long provided corridors to link resources necessary for human survival. Today’s trails infrastructure are no different, continuing to provide transportation links within and between communities, safe routes to work and school, opportunities for economic development and options for physical activity and improved health.
Whether it’s related to hiking, biking, equestrian, paddling or watchable wildlife, trail development takes a continuous effort of planning, fundraising, negotiation and on-the-ground work to realize a dream. National Trails Day (NTD) is the only nationwide celebration to offer thanks and show support for the opportunities provided by countless volunteers, businesses and land management agencies. American Hiking Society will organize the 19th annual event on June 4, 2011. Find an event at www.americanhiking.org or www.nebraskatrails.org/calendar.php. Can’t find an event in your area or trail activity of your liking? Organize a celebration of your own. Ideas for activities include trail maintenance projects, dedications, hikes, rides, races, educational exhibits, gear demonstrations, workshops, festivals and advocacy campaigns.
National Trails Day evolved from President Ronald Reagan’s President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors report recommending all Americans have close to home access to trails. The recommendation, Trails for All Americans, proposed the need to access trails that wind through our cities and towns within 15 minutes of every front door and bring users back without having to retrace routes. Based on report recommendations, several public and private organizations partnered with the American Hiking Society to launch the first National Trails Day in 1993.
Nebraska Trails Council (NTC), a statewide nonprofit trail advocacy group, strongly believes in the concept of close-to-home trail access and giving back to trail projects. As such, NTC will also be assisting 15 entities in funding their NTD events with $100 grants. Funding will be used to develop and purchase interpretive trail materials, offer volunteer incentives, offset operation and maintenance costs and promote events. Planning an event and want to apply for assistance? Visit www.nebraskatrails.org for more information on NTD grants.
NTC is also pleased to co-sponsor the Elkhorn River Cleanup scheduled for June 18, 2011. National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program is organizing the cleanup and invites interested volunteers to take part in the day-long project. Starting at Elkhorn Crossing and ending along Q Street in west Omaha, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. cleanup will be followed by a barbecue dinner at Two Rivers State Recreation Area. Volunteers must be 14 years of age or older to participate, and all skill levels are welcome. For volunteer information or other details, please contact NPS Outdoor Recreation Planner Karen Anderson at (402) 661-1542 or karen_anderson[at]np[dot].gov.
While trail demand is at an all-time high, funding avenues are being threatened and operating budgets and staffing continually being reduced to meet shortfalls. There has never been a better time to show your support for trails. Please join us in celebrating National Trails Day across the nation. Volunteer to assist your favorite trail or organization and give back on this important day.