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Notes from National Trails Training Partnership meeting, June 17, 2011 Arlington, VA - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offices:
Stuart Macdonald, National Assoc. of State Trail Administrators
Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration
Nathan Caldwell, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Kathy Johnson, USFWS Training Center, Shepardstown
Rebecca Mordini, Front Country Trails Coordinator, Santa Barbara, CA
Helen Scully, National Park Service
Jonathan Stephens, Congressionally Designated Areas and Trails, USFS
Rob Perrin, Trails and Travel Management Program Lead, BLM
Karen Umphress, NOHVCC
Tom Umphress, NOHVCC Board Member
David Zavas, American Hiking Society
Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trails
Tip Ray, Accessibility Instructor
Ann Baker Easley, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
Kim Frederick, Jefferson Co. Open Space, Colorado
Jonathan LeClere, Contractor for FHWA
Kit Keller, Assoc. of Bicycle/Pedestrian Professionals (APBP)
Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails System
Jan Hancock, Equestrian advocate, Arizona
Kristy Kibler, IMBA
Danny Basch, Trails Supervisor, Rocky Mountain National Park
Welcome and Introductions
Nathan Caldwell welcomed everyone. A big thanks to Nathan for hosting the meeting yet again.
Christopher: Transportation funding reauthorization - The official administration proposal is considered "dead on arrival" but proposes to consolidate all surface transportation programs from about a hundred programs down to six. In theory the "Liveability" category would include CMAQ, Enhancements, and Rec Trails. Bike/ped programs remain broadly eligible throughout the whole proposal. But if there is no RTP administrative "takedown" there will be no support for organizations, conferences, publications, etc. However, a cooperative agreement to support national trails training closed in April, which would provide funding for at least an additional year. Contracts for OHV user ethics training and a snowmobile safety training program also are underway. Also a RTP project database will also be going out to bid; a lot of private companies interested in that. Funds are available in this Fiscal Year for a full year of funding.
Stuart noted that FHWA has supported trails training for several years, both NTTP and in many other ways. FHWA also contracts for publications and research materials from agencies as well as organizations.
Roundtable Discussion on Current Training Issues and Oportunities
Jonathan: travel funding has simply been zeroed out as part of 20% reduction. People coming in from the field to take the course, but no one from Washington. Interagency training is being developed for National Scenic and Historic trails program.
Rebecca: big challenge is engaging hiking community in trail work. Most trails were built before sustainability standards. Very impressed with IMBA work every year. But most recent trail count, over 90% of users are hikers who don't understand the need for trail maintenance. They claim the only need for trail work is because of the bicyclists. High level of suspicion of IMBA training. IMBA has purchased the USFS trail manual for SB to show that it's visually the same technology taught as the IMBA course. Has gotten USFS rangers out. Human nature seems to be doing things the same way decade after decade, regardless of what current best practices are. Virtually all trail work available is from volunteers.
Helen: how will DOJ "other power-driven mobility devices" (OPDMD) rule affect trails training?
Nathan: still looking for final regs on Architectural Barriers Act. How will that affect agencies. Current status of proposed guidelines. No more comments, so at next Access Board meeting, will do economic impact analysis with OMB. Then it will go to approval with GSA for final implementation, then DOJ. Has been going for some years, but apparently access board has accepted the language. May actually be finalized this year.
Christopher: proposed guidelines receiving comments now on Shared Use Pathways, which are used largely for transportation, not just recreation. So Access Board has proposed rules which would take effect if they ever finished the public rights of way final guidelines. Conceivably a part of that would be the Shared Use Pathways guidelines. American Trails and California State Parks have submitted comments which Stuart will share with everyone:
Christopher: Only into available to the public is from Janet and Stuart, as well as webinar. See article in Spring 2011 American Trails Magazine:
FWS has been sending this same info out to the agency people.
Stuart: this issue is a good example of how we need good information, and effective ways of sharing knowledge and training,
Rob Perrin: hope to align training among all of the agencies. BLM is hiring a new accessibility coordinator in August.
Many different interpretations from field people, the public.
America's Great Outdoors meeting in Madison: virtually all of the discussion was on ways to get young people involved in outdoor recreation and stewardship. Asked about barriers to outdoor activities, but none about physical accessibility. Listening sessions last summer, most of the conversations centered on how do we get a very urban population outdoors.
Pam: went to stakeholders meeting in California, nothing on accessibility.
Tip Ray: worked with Corps Network who produced training guide on including accessibility in conservation corps projects. Working with state of Florida on accessibility programs. Also doing fairly new program on accessibility for Blueways and water trails, adaptive paddling workshop. also a full day program on "building Better Trails" which is an intro to good trail design as well as accessibility. Well received by land managers. Preach the gospel. Worked with America's Byways Resource Center to develop training program on accessibility, inclusion, universal access for Byways. Available online -- see link as published in AT Magazine:
David: National Trails Day, Volunteer Vacations programs have been going for years. Want to emphasize Hike the Hill, promoting awareness of trails issues with members of Congress. Land Manager Summit to bring in stars from field who are doing great work on specific trails issues, successes and IMBA, American Whitewater, American Canoeing, Federal land management agencies.
Outdoor Alliance for Kids is another program.
Gary: has been involved with John Muir chapter of Sierra Club. They are the ones that arrange outings and trail work. In Wisconsin the chapters have been working with trails people on trail building for both Ice age and North country trail.
Helen: hope to get NPS training community engaged in NTTP and sharing training.
Karen: in AK, NPS did help with training programs. NRT program. Making transition from paper application to online version:
Blueways Initiative from AGO and water trails is another issue. Big potential for training. American Trails has been doing water trails training.
Stuart: Wrote article on Blueways Initiative in relation to NRT program which is online at:
Kevin Myers is another resource, working with Alaska Trails. He has written a draft copy of a new OHV trails guide; see article about it in the last NOHVCC newsletter:
Rob Perrin - BLM - signed travel management manual after years of effort. Provides guidance to field to to travel management, which includes all types of trails and travel modes. Really helps complement the agency's ability to do trail planning. Now trying to get out a travel management handbook with an emphasis on trails, and training on the planning process. Could be of value to others looking at how to do trail planning. Wildland interface areas where a lot of recreation impacts. Understanding the needs of the field staff, who see a real need for training and how to have access to training.
Gary: need more training with invasive species that travel along trails, look at other training topic needs. Goal is to find best practices on different topics, rather than reinvent the wheel, and assemble teams of people in various ecoregions of the countries to make more effective training available to people doing.
Kim Frederick - Jefferson County Open Space: Working with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, doing technical skills training. Also doing cultural resources training with USFS.
Danny Basch - great conversation so far. Oversees trails as part of his broader duties. How can we help people get beyond day by day struggle to reach out and get involved with other organizations, trail users, groups like VOC. Plan to host Hugh Duffy's Sketchbook training this year. Model is identifying case studies where different agencies are doing different things, and share good ideas among them. Been more among individuals than creating a program to do that kind of information sharing.
Nathan: NPS seems to be the hardest to corral in cooperating on training with the other agencies. Any ideas on getting great experience of park units involved in NTTP and nationwide sharing on trails training.
Dave: Some parks have very strong, talented, well funded trail programs. Park Service doesn't seem to do much with shared learning between units. Not looking beyond their own borders. NPS has park facility management division working among different work groups, looking to standard management strategies, trail assessments, funding, estimating-- by using common industry standards.
Gary - NPS Director Jarvis, others, promoting the idea of meeting future goals for parks by getting NPS more involved in more interests, a larger slice of the public. Promoting health and visitation,
Pam Gluck: update from American Trails. American Trails has been holding workshops and training throughout the county. There was a webinar about the DOJ accessibility and will plan on holding a follow-up webinar in the future. There has also been some water trails training and other on-site local training. There is an upcoming webinar regarding the Pathways for Play in June.
This is in conjunction with the University of North Carolina. One of the hottest topic right now is for protecting the trail funding, promoting the economic benefits of trails. There is a webinar coming up regarding this topic that will be put on by one of the board members, Jim Wood, as well as the chair. It is focussed on giving people the tools to promote the economic benefits. American Trails did a survey asking people if they are interested in attending additional information via webinar and 93% of the surveys responded that they would like to attend more webinars.
American Trails National Symposium - The 2012 Symposium is coming up and the location will be announced soon.
Memorandum of Understanding for National Trails Training
Christopher - MOU gives us permission to cooperate and be friends. Nothing about spending authority. Nor does it require agencies to do anything or be subservient to any other organizations. Passed legal hurdles and will be sent around for signatures in the near future. But it's not actually dependent on everyone's signatures, and additional groups can be added.
Delivering Training - Webinars and other methods
Difficulty of getting people to training, as travel funds have simply evaporated. Field has also taken a 20% cut. We need to get more creative in delivering training. E.g. master performer type of program, where you identify a cadre of people who would travel around to deliver training locally. Using safe curriculum from Trails 101, etc.
Stuart: how has this affected BLM national training center. Could there be a new model of regional based training cadre that were available on an interagency basis and to work with a variety of trail groups and land managers?
A: They're trying to go more internet based, but there is still not substitute for face to face or on the ground training.
Jan: Don Sharpio working to get more information out to the field, including CEU credits. Right now equestrians have cancelled all of their events this year due to either fires or disease concerns. Training programs using distance learning are high in priority with BLM people. Jan is currently writing a book on the best places to ride horses around the world. Meeting with horse (and camel) people in many places.
Tom Umphress: more field training on sustainable trail design and travel management. Getting land managers to remember that many of these trails are used by a variety of people, not just motor vehicles. Agency people seem to not always understand what a trail is. They see old logging and mining roads, existing routes. Get them to put the trail where it should be, not just to keep using what may have been put in as a winter logging route for use when it's frozen. "You're trying to do the right thing and we just won't let you." A lot of work to get agency personnel more knowledgable. Gradually getting them to speak up and comment and discuss the real issues with where trails should be.
Tom is involved in distance learning for a university. Using live video conferencing but able to archive and even do live streaming so people with internet access can participate even without the video capability. Systems can choose how to view the presenter or the computer streams. High definition video stream. Or you can rent rooms or use an agency facility with internet capability. Or even bring camera to a hotel room with internet connection.
Nathan will try to include video for NTTP meeting next year.
Helen: NPS has a video system now, too. We just used GoToMeeting for the NRT meeting.Technology has improved significantly. Good way to get people from far away places involved. Of course, the limitation is with actually building and digging. Or get people to a regional site, a local site and film the field work. Share video with hoers remotely.
Karen in addition to ground training, have land advocacy training DVD on trail system planning, mapping, monitoring. Have hosted 24 webinars so far. Also partnering with Marshall University on OHV recreation management courses which are also available online. Provide CEUs for other NOHVCC training through.
Kathy Johnson - all of these delivery technologies are available to FWS at their training center. Videos, broadcasts, television. Components of the Trails 101 class do need to be in the field, but how can we make other parts of the curriculum available by other means. Last October put on last Trails 101 course. Not going with contractors, to save funds, setting up train the trainer aspect to build up the cadre of instructors. Welcome input on who those trainers should be and how to build up the skill levels. Planning a class in October. But need the students, six from each agency, and three instructors from each agency to teach it. Train the trainer will make it more valuable.
Ann Baker Easley - VOC in Colorado. Operate all of their training programs through the Outdoor Stewardship Institute. Expanding training to create a larger stewardship base statewide. We don't have the leadership needed for both sides of the partnership. Increasingly working on cultural and historic resources and facilities, which opens up new areas of interest to volunteers. Creating more training, documenting skills. OSI may do trainings in other states. Doing more work with OHV skills and training.
Gary Werner - PNTS very interested in historic training, will talk to Ann. Annual PNTS conference focused on healthy trails, healthy communities. Brought in 30 trail apprentices 19-14 years old, to help bring new future leaders in to learn more. They also shared their ideas and suggestions on ways to interact with trails people. Began organizing next year's training, will do scenic trails training at Shepardstown. Ongoing training discussion on Trail Resource Protection Strategies: involve trail managers and trail leaders. Held interagency meeting of land protection leaders of federal management agencies. It's a training in the broad sense of the word: informing agency people and leaders on best practices. Suggesting new ways for agencies to effectively manage land acquisition process.
Kit Keller - ABPB is doing monthly webinars on a variety of bike/ped program and facility topics. Have webinars available online, including recent one on "Urban Bikeways Design Guide" from AASHTO. Some cities feel this is a needed update to the AASHTO 1999 guide. Had 845 attendees on the webinar. Did reports on 13,000 responses to survey on Women in Cycling. (Talk to her about surveys)
Interagency Trails Course - "Trails 101"
Nathan: Trails 101, the interagency trails course, may not be funded this year
Kathy - Had 23 students at last Trails 101, which is not a full class. Need to be sure all of the places are filled. Have obligated funds for next October to hold the class. Offering to do course but need commitment of six students each for the five agencies, 30 total. Goal is to have more instructors available. But travel funds and instructor time are a problem for any future classes. Concerned that not holding the class for a long time will degrade the ability to teach it effectively.
Rob Perrin - Have others non-Federal people been involved?
Christpher - yes, FHWA funding has enabled state and local agency people to attend
Class size is 36, but would need more instructors. BLM and USFS have not been sending people to the east training location. Class can go on the road, but logistics concerns.
Stuart - can we host the class in other locations with some local instructors, instead of official federal training schools? E.g. In Colorado good sites could Rocky Mountain NP, a National Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson County Open Space, VOC, and Colorado State Parks.
Nathan says they don't have the ability to coordinate the class in other locations. Need is for other agencies to provide more funding and assistance. Also need to have the coordination and support from FWS, as Kathy has been doing.
Rob: what are the minimal costs, how can we pare down the need for instructors and who is going to do the logistics? Can we rely on a local field office to do logistics? In Wyoming found a state facility that was really reasonable.
Christopher - what if nonprofit partner came up with a course in cooperation with relevant trails interests, and then they use the Trails 101 as the curriculum?
Pam - John Favro had proposed that American Trails do the coordination. Could still consider it.
Nathan - problem is Feds can't collect tuition from people and apply it to the course; accounting situation is a disaster.
Stuart - what about making the curriculum available to other people and not try to make it a federal class? Feds could attend, and pay but nonprofit or state would handle money.
Gary - not many people or organization will cover tuition for a course like this. Question is how valuable the course is for the federal agencies, and if not look at alternatives. It's an agency issue.
Kim Frederick - Worked with Southern Utah U which has internship program. Included Utah conservation corps members. Variety of agency funding as well as university, and paid internship positions. Did a week of outdoor resource and trail skills, and the interns will then do work for the summer. Different from Trails 101 is there was less admin or management discussion, but more focus on every day on work in the field. Focus on trail maintenance and construction.
Nathan asked if this training could be adapted and replicated in other parts of the country, and include some of the Trails 101 curriculum.
Danny - Like the idea of bringing in another Trails 101 course to Colorado Front Range.
Kim - interested in hosting Trails 101 on Colorado Front Range, good local support. Also in Utah. The question is really around instructors and trainers. Kim brought several people with him to do the training in Southern Utah. Happy to talk with FHW and BLM on coordinating and hosting training. Several BLM offices as well as FWS in Colorado. Has also been successful in working with DOLA, who has some funds for natural resource and stewardship training. Recently at conference that included several State Park Directors. They have the same interests, and need for more effective use of funds. Training is another need they have on state park programming.
Stuart: how can we use this kind of model for specific training needs, adapting curricula to local needs, brining in regional trainers, cooperating with agencies including schools, state parks, DOLA, etc.
Stuart - maybe what S. Utah group taught is more relevant? or it's a different audience in need of more vocational training? or would the more hands -on trail work be a better Trails 101 class than the current interagency curriculum with so much time on agency issues like NEPA, funding, and accessibility?
Kristy - the nonprofit approach ought to work. Look at IMBA, with a standardized curriculum. Focused on interest groups. Two pairs of trainers who do nothing but trail schools, and subsidized by Subaru.
Stuart - how about using the curriculum, but package in different ways. Can we make the material available to universities, region coalitions, etc. Can we turn some of the material into webinars of online course, and then help students find what's available?
Rob - as we've heard from Utah, the material could be packaged differently, more cost effective ways.
Helen - but we're told it's not valuable enough for a federal employee to go anywhere to do anything.
Karen - NOHVCC course are in modules that can be taught in different lengths, different time periods. Do the same with Trails 101, compartmentalize it. Field component can be mixed in at any time. Or more than one field experience. Coordinating by nonprofits would not be such a big issue. So how do we get FWS to be tuition based, if possible. Get BLM and USFS to see how their needs could be met.
The webinar link is http://www.nohvcc.org/Education/Webinars.aspx
The DVD link is http://www.nohvcc.org/Education/Media.aspx
Nathan: we need to convene a workshop on this one issue.
Kathy: provided current list of instructors for Trails 101 and asked agencies to suggest additional people who can help teach on different topics.
Rob suggested we find a way to get everyone together on these issues.
Pam said American Trails could do a webinar or conference call. Or BLM could host a video conference.
Probably not a way to have another NTTP meeting during 2011. Are their ways for us to get together by video conference or webinar? Tom U offered some suggestions.
See APBP for next newsletter on trails, material needed.
Adjourned 3:10 p.m.
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