by Teresa Martinez, Executive Director – Continental Divide Trail Coalition
As I write this, I am watching a cold front break across the upper Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. The sun is shining bright and there are deep blue skies. The invisible wind is gusting, breaking the calm and peace you might expect from the glorious sun and sky, as it carries in a winter storm. We need the moisture the wind brings. The sun is still shining. The sky is still the bluest blue. It remains an absolutely beautiful day.
This is how I would describe 2020.
From all appearances it was full of opportunity and excitement for new work and directions. In February, CDTC represented the National Trails community by testifying at the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing on LWCF. In early March, we released our updated Strategic Plan. And within weeks of Covid-19 shutting down the world, we pivoted our signature event, CDT Trail Days, to a series of online events to virtually celebrate the CDT and reach tens of thousands more people than ever before.
While we had to cancel and suspend some activities, with some adaptation and quick work by our staff to restructure our programs for safe-Covid practices, we managed to have one of our best years yet.
We raised nearly $600k in private dollars. We supported nearly 250 volunteers who contributed 14,000 volunteer hours. We grew our membership by 500 members. And our Board and staff remained healthy and creative in a near virtual year of work!
This work included the release of the Atlas of the CDT—a first of its kind review of the CDT from a landscape connectivity perspective. With the murder of George Floyd, CDTC made an even stronger commitment to create a more diverse, inclusive, just, and equitable Trail community. We leveraged our signature innovation and creativity in our work to remain stable and resilient during one of the more tumultuous years our generation has ever seen. But like the sun and blue skies, harboring the winds of an oncoming winter storm outside my living room window, while the year was full of chaos, it was also full of beauty and creativity and new initiatives and opportunities for the CDT and CDTC.