A Message to Existing and New Partners and Volunteers with the Forest Service

by Meckenzie Helmandollar-Powell, US Forest Service

Hello valued trail partners and volunteers. 

The Trail Challenge is a challenge for all of us who care for and receive benefits from trails—including you—to achieve more sustainable trails. You are invited to help with any element of the Trail Challenge. 

There are many ways you can apply your dedication and skills. You can offer your assistance and skill in the traditional way of helping to maintain and improve trails on the ground or express your interest in becoming a certified sawyer to help with downed-tree and brush removal. You can also offer to help coordinate the work of existing volunteer and partner groups, write grants to accomplish specific projects, or help increase outreach and education about sustainable trails. 

As you contact your local Forest Service recreation and trail managers to offer your support, you’ll likely notice that their capacity to engage with you varies from unit to unit. Many recreation and trail program managers have limited time to engage with individual volunteers. They might direct you to work with an existing partner organization or ask you to take a leadership role in bringing various partner groups together and build on successful examples of individuals and groups coming together following a collective impact model. 

Another way you can help is to share with local Forest Service leaders about how important sustainable trails are to you and help them find creative ways to integrate trails into other unit priorities.