News and Notes
NTTP meeting notes: June 7, 2010
Minutes of National Trails Training Partnership meeting:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arlington, VA
June 7, 2010 - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Nathan Caldwell, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration
Steve Elkinton, National Park Service
Sean Garcia, The Corps Network
Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trails
Kim Hutson de Belle, American Hiking Society
Mehvish Khan, American Hiking Society
Jonathan LeClere, FHWANTTP Program Manager for American Trails
Stuart Macdonald, National Assoc. of State Trail Administrators
Rob Perrin, Bureau of Land Management
Helen Scully, National Park Service
Jamie Schwartz, USFS
Karen Umphress, NOHVCC
Tom Umphress, NOHVCC
John Z Wetmore, Pedestrians.org
- By phone:
Jan Hancock, American Trails Board, equestrian representative
Kit Kellar, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
Ben Lawhon, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Deb Salt, BLM
Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails System
Sherril York, National Center on Accessibility
Introductions and NTTP History
- Pam Gluck welcomed attendees and thanked FHWA for hosting the meeting.
Food was provided by Professional Trailbuilders Association.
- Stuart Macdonald gave an brief history of NTTP and goals for improving the availability of training with the NTTP partners.
Memorandum of Understanding for NTTP
Jamie Schwartz has been the lead on getting an updated MOU written and signed by agencies and organizations. "Its the little things: corrections and federal concerns," he said. Christopher noted as one example that the original version seemed to give authority to nonprofits over agencies. But have moved forward with discussions on how to accomplish goals for training. Thanss to Christopher and Steve Elkinton for reviewing the drafts, and to Pam and Stuart for getting the organizations up to speed and providing neccessary information to be included. All the groups that were included in the past are in the new version, but now there is just one MOU for all instead of separate MOUs for nonprofits and agencies. American Trails is listed a s the liason or point of contact. All "in agreement to agree," Jamie concluded. Discussion about all the good things we can accomplish by working together.
Training Opportunities, Concerns, and Ideas
Interagency Trails 101 Course
Deb Salt recounted history of the course. Trail Needs Assessment brought to Federal Interagency Council on Trails, with the suggestion of "lets do it across all the agencies with our variety of needs. Developed the course around 2000 with BLM out of National Training Center in Phoenix taking the lead in coordinating the course for several years. Recently the lead came over to US Fish and Wildlife Service. Nathan said that FWS took on the course as part of their training division. Has been able to schedule a fall course in 2010, and is looking for agency to host the spring 2011 course. Rob Perrin of BLM is interested in working with FWS and Mike Brown, BLM training staff. Lot of agency people have expressed interest in the course. Jamie says the course fills up each time. The challenge is getting staff help in coordinating and hosting each session of the course. Have also approached Carhart Center, but they say they can't host it. Second best choice is BLM training facility in Phoenix. Nathan says the course is so popular, but it's "homeless."
John Favor, retired USFS and on American Trails board, has expressed hopes to take on one of the courses a year. Would be nice if other agencies could help more, or even set up a position to make more transportation funding available for training. This course would be part of their responsibility, as well as developing other land management, conservation, and transportation related training. Would need $120 to 150,000 for a position in West Virginia (including travel and benefits) at NCTC. Possibly some funding could be available from Dept of Interior, as well as Park Roads, Refuge Roads, and Recreational Trails funding. AHS wants to support this idea. Gary Werner notes that management of the setting of the trail, the corridor, resource management, are the issues that National Scenic and Historic trail managers are most interested in.
Every federal agenciy gets six slots, 24 total, and six more for nonprofits or states. Ends up being 2/3 feds and 1/3 nonprofits and states. The MOU enables different agencies to fund atendance by their staff. The training instructors are in place. Issues are coordination, handling the money, and doing the outreach. Need both classroom and field training space. FHWA interest is to support the states, so has made slots available for state program people. Out of state travel has, however, been a problem for some states. Rob will coordinate to see about putting on a session at Shepardstown, WV. American Trails Board is discussing doing the coordination as long as the agencies continue their financial support.
Training initiatives by agencies and organizations
- Nathan Caldwell: USFWS - Trails training is ad hoc. Regions are doing some, focus is on sustainability, but the regions don't always tell us what they're doing. Can fund training out of the 5% they receive from Refuge Roads Program, wich is annually about $ 1.2 million.
- Deb Salt: BLM - National Training Center has been doing some trail-related courses. Also has been working on a GPS and GIS training oriented toward trails and working with instructors in Alaska in coordination with NPS. Still working on policy for National Scenic and Historic Trails, which include needs for skills and appropriate training. Rob Perrin added that BLM is working on guidance for trails and trying to assess the needs for more advanced skills related to trails. From as needed training to mentoring.
- Gary Werner: PNTS - Gary discussed survey to assess needs and skills for National Scenic and Historic trails over last three years. Team came up with some recommendations such as organizational capacity building and sharing courses across agencies. Deb added that May 2009 report recommends a steering committee for NSHT needs. Recent three day workshop on "heritage tourism" in context of National Historic Trails. Involved four Americorps youth and middle school students from San Antonio and their historic projects. Planning workshop for Baltimore, facilitated discussions among agencies and nonprofits including managmenet of organizations, interagency issues, preservation of resoures, and outreach, especially for youth. Wants to acknowledge the federal agencies for funding the workshops, and especially FHWA. Planning 13th conference on National Scenic and Historic Trails in Abingdon, VA in 2011.
- Steve Elkinton: NPS - Has been interested in contracting with Eppley Institute on training. Gary said that the agencies are working on revising policies and management "in a corridor context" so training could look different in a few years after these policies are worked out. (Stuart will make the report available eletronically). Helen Scully notes that training to use "willing seller" authority is also being developed in context of National Scenic and Historic trails.
- Sherril York: NCA has created a course on programmatic access issues for trails, how to incorporate accessibility in outdoor rec facilities, retrofitting and building new trails, and looking at improving accessibility. Have offered this training every other year, but hope to make it more available. Accessibility coordinators training. Trail surface study, six different surfaces over several years at their Bradfor Woods, IN facility. Surveying other sites to see how different surfaces provide for accessibilty in different regions of the country. The US Access Board is considering comments on the guidelines received in the 2009 public comment period. Final accessibility guidelines that include trails are still in process.
- Karen and Tom Umphress: NOHVCC - Doing online training and ways to reach people who can't travel. Also doing training onsite with national and state workshops. CEU credit is an important incentive. NOHVCC doing Educational Trail project (see article on American Trails website), which won one of this year's CRT awards. Great way to get kids educated on public lands and stewardship as well as safe riding.
- Kim Hutson de Belle: AHS talking about need in addition to basics, and looking beyond the trail tread. AHS worked with PNTS and other groups on educating the elected official s at various levels on trail issues at "Hike the Hill" events. White House summit on America's Great Outdoors, with listening sessions held in various places around the country. Want to coordinate comments from hiking and trails community nationwide and bring that to the government. Themes include stressing partnerships between governments and nonprofits; second theme is larger landscape approach to conservation; and third is reconnecting citizens to the land.
- Jamie Schwartz: USFS - Tread Lightly updated their online awareness course. USFS is funding Leave No Trace as well. These programs are working on new initiative along with BLM called "Respected Access is Open Access." See RespectedAccess.org. Eight PSAs have been developed for shooting sports to promote better behavior and show where the responsibility lies. Working with other outdoor recreation interests including trails to promote safety and stewardship. Leave No Trace Master Educator course will be a pilot for equestrian chapters and then promoting it more widely. Emphasizes front country (eastern) issues rather than traditional backcountry issues. Corporate sponsorships are very hard to come by.
- Christopher Douwes: FHWA - The future of the Recreational Trails Program, which is currently supporting conferences, workshops, publications, and other resources, is very uncertain. FHWA program funding was extended until end of 2010. But RTP is is in a difficult position. Even though Administration talks positively about "livability," individual funding programs like RTP may get lost in bigger priorities. Possibility is one big livability program that bundles everything from CMAQ to trails, most of it going to major metropolitan area. One of the discussions is how many state agencies are willing to fund trails without RTP. Depends on the political perspective, whether some programs with specific constituencies are maintained. Funding is the issue. No one wants to raise the fuel tax, even though motorized recreation users are putting more into the Highway Users Trust Fund than the entire RTP program takes out. The Coalition for Recreational Trails is giving awards tomorrow to help raise awareness. Trouble is, support for trails is broad but not deep. Not a central issue. Trails community should know about these issues. Gary suggest these issues should be raised by local supporters in fall elections.
- Pam Gluck: American Trails is providing a variety of training courses. New one has been very successful: Water Trails Workshop. Two workshops were held in Florida coordinated by Alex Weiss of their State trails and greenways program. Water trails are very ppoular and a growing area of trails interest. Developing more like traditional trails with maps, signs, trailhead access. State programs, designated NRTs. Will be working with National Park Service staff, Corita Waters. Other American Trails training focuses on accessibility. If you build sustainable trails you will go a long way towards meeting the guidelines for accessible trails. NCA is doing similar workshops. There will be a lot of need for more education on accessibility as the gidelines become finalized. Nathan says FWS and other federal agencies are working on coordinating response. Other workshops include Developers Forum. American Trails National Symposium will be in Chattanooga. Mehv, who lived for years in Chattanooga, gave her perspective on Chattanooga as a great place for outdoor activities. Pam discussed the many training opportunities, seminars, and mobile workshops which will be held at the Symposium.
Training delivery: Webinars
Discussion on how well online "webinars" are working. The work well with three people hosting: one is presenting while two people are watching the comments and questions. Challenge is keeping people's attention. The technology is changing constantly. Different age groups have diffetrent expectations, and the speed of communication is faster. People's expectations are so different, delivering electornically and instantly. Instead of doing a four-day class, you focus on a narrow area and doing a much shorter presentation.
- The audience: people with a specific need who are looking to get the information NOW.
- Presenters need to practice, to be sure their visual aids work and that they don't go over the announced time.
- Solve the problems before you do the webinar. Test the connections.
- Sound is a problem. While laptops have built in microphones, they can pick all the background sound.
- If you have enough bandwidth, you can use VOIP (voice over internet) instead of expense of phone land lines.
Instead of costing hundreds of dollars, you can present a webinar for very little cost. No geographic boundaries. Point of webinar, like face to face training, is to interact, to ask questions ane share ideas. It's a way to get people involved. Training in general is hard for people so you have to make it easy, and to engage them. You can pre-load questions to ask the participants at various time during the presentation.
Christopher asked if you have this kind of meeting (NTTP or state trail administrators) as a webinar? It's certainly possible but you would have to prepare materials to show participants, rather than a blank computer screen.
Presentations can be recorded and made available online for anyone to access at a later date.
NCA is using Adobe Connect for webinars. Ability to do real-time captioning to improve accessibility is an issue.
NTTP Partnership and Promotion
Stuart discussed aspects of the online clearinghouse for training, the TrailsTraining.net website. Cool Trail Solutions and many other resources.
NTTP Home Page: http://www.americantrails.org/nttp/default.htm
About NTTP: http://www.americantrails.org/nttp/aboutnttp.htm
Calendar of Trainings: http://www.americantrails.org/Calendar.html
Resources and Library: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/index.html
Next meeting: November 17-18, 2010 in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the American Trails National Symposium.
Meeting adjourned at 3:15 p.m.
Notes submitted by Stuart Macdonald
the list of NTTP
Steering Committee members and
a comprehensive list of agencies
and organizations supporting the
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