It has been a banner year at the Partnership for the National Trails System; one of continued transition and growth. Here are some of the highlights:
Advocating for National Trails
A highlight of PNTS advocacy activity each year is Hike the Hill. In 2021, participants took part in 7 meetings with Federal Agency representatives, 5 meetings with Congressional Committee staff, and 8 briefing sessions to prepare for individual meetings. Topics covered included securing funding for trails, protecting trail Lands, and making National Trails more accessible and welcoming to all visitors.
Throughout the year, we convene a network of trail organizations and advocates for collective action to advance top legislative and policy priorities for National Scenic and Historic Trails. For example, we organized a Working Group to raise awareness for system-wide priorities during the transition to the Biden-Harris Administration and created a new Advocacy & Policy sub-committee focused on new trails.
Learning and Exchange
New virtual roundtables focused on Trail Operations and Next Gen Programs were introduced as forums for peer exchange. These forums, along with previously existing Volunteer Management Forum, engage trail professionals in discussions about management and best practices.
The National Trails Workshop covered topics such as land acquisition, ethical storytelling, and engaging with Indigenous groups and tribal entities, featuring 35 speakers, and 286 registered participants—an increase of 29% over the 2020
PNTS reinvigorated its webinars and increased their frequency. We offered 7 webinars, in which 620 participants learned about management tools, best practices, and ways to engage broader audiences on National Trails.
PNTS worked with several new partners to increase awareness about trails to new audiences and to introduce trails enthusiasts to PNTS.
The Trek, a thru-hiker resource and blogging website, dedicated their Badger Sponsorship to the Partnership in February 2021. PNTS teamed up with Bell’s Brewery to launch a co-branded trail awareness campaign, “Go Where the Trail Leads You” to encourage people to pledge hours to hike, volunteer, or learn about Trails.
In addition, PNTS continued to serve as a hub of information about National Scenic and Historic Trails though Pathways Across America, social media and more.
Capacity Building & Next Gen Programs
The Trail Apprentices program pivoted to a virtual format, resulting in the largest cohort to date. The 27 apprentices (aged 18-28) learned about a variety of potential careers in National Trails, enjoyed opportunities to network and meet with professionals and learned skills and more about topics important to Trails through trainings and in the 2021 National Trails Workshop.
PNTS awarded 14 Trail Intern Grants in 2021, totaling $129,990. These grants supported nonprofit trail organizations’ efforts to build their capacities by hiring young adult interns and providing them with the opportunity to explore careers in trails.