The Gold Sheet: Demonstrating the Value of Volunteers and Private Investment in Trails

When we say we can’t do it without you, we mean it. Volunteers and private donors not only give their time and money to trails, but they showcase the immense value of National Scenic and Historic Trails (NSHT) to the public. The ability to demonstrate both monetary and time investment in NSHT provides a major advocacy tool. It shows that governmental investment in trails is desired, appreciated, and useful to the broader American public. 

To demonstrate the value of volunteer hours and private investment in Trails, the Partnership for the National Trails System compiles an annual report called the Gold Sheet. It summarizes the private dollars invested and hours of volunteer time contributed to build, interpret, and sustain the 30 NSHT. Using the yearly national rate for volunteer time calculated by the Independent Sector, the Gold Sheet translates volunteer hours into monetary value. Combined, the value of volunteer work and private donations demonstrate the total private leverage to Federal investment in NSHT. 

The Gold Sheet is compiled each year in tandem with the annual Hike The Hill® event. It is an invaluable tool for advocates who are addressing Federal government leaders and members of Congress. Gary Werner, former executive director of PNTS and co-founder of Hike the Hill® argues that the Gold Sheet, “was the single most important thing we’ve ever pulled together in terms of advocacy. We could show in dollars and cents—terms that resonate with Congress—that we, as private partners with the federal agencies, were directly providing annually one and a half times the resources that Congress was appropriating to sustain the National Trails.” And, Hike the Hill® is not the only time the Gold Sheet helps advocate for trails. It can be used year-round to demonstrate the value of NSHT to local, state or tribal leaders; potential partners; and prospective donors. 

While the Gold Sheet is a powerful tool for advocacy, its value comes from your generous support. We cannot thank our partners, donors, and volunteers enough for investing their time and talent to ensure everyone can enjoy National Trails.