The Mountain Trails Foundation and Snyderville Basin Recreation District sent representatives to the Professional Trail Builders Association Conference in Grand Junction last week. The conference attracted hundreds of trail-building businesses from all over the world.
Ben Liegert is with the Snyderville Basin Rec District in the Trail Planning and Development Department. He attended the Professional Trailbuilders’ Association conference. They’re a private sector association of trails specialists, contractors, designers and consultants. Liegert attended a variety of sessions.
“There was one that was about planning and developing a trail system kind of with your community partners and that was with people from Fruita and Grand Junction and their local trail advocates. And, it was really nice and refreshing to hear them talk about that and how they work together with their different partners to make it a sustainable trail system and kind of the benefits of that in applying for grants. And then just kind of getting the work done on the ground.”
Executive Director of the Mountain Trails Foundation, Charlie Sturgis says the trial building business is at an all time high. Sturgis says the conference was very productive for both him and their three other employees who attended.
“They have 100 members for trail building organizations that are for profit. It was probably something like half of that five years ago. So, they’ve been growing steadily. But, the amount of work available-so, almost everybody in the room when asked if they had enough work for the summer, probably 90% of the trail builders in the room said they did. We could not come up with anything new for the next five years. We could stay busy. And not all of it can be talked about, but the stuff that's in the hopper that is going to be coming, and you know we don't have to go look for work, we're actually going to look for some help.”
He says the association is beginning to collect data on how building trails can revive economies in communities that have declined.
“Hands down, a hundred percent across the board, everybody agrees that trails have a huge, huge community impact and really need to be looked at as investments in the future not as expenses today. Everybody's return on investment is four, five, six times in a few years what they actually paid in.”
Sturgis says there will be a lot of maintenance work that will keep them busy this summer along with plans to open new terrain. He says a trail connecting the Empire area to Scott’s Pass is one big project they’ll work on during the upcoming season.
“We would be expecting to work up in Bonanza Flat again probably freshening up on Bloods Lake. And, also there's some other trail connections that are going to be considered up there. We have a trail that’s going from Empire to Scott’s Pass in the Daly Chutes so you can think about maybe take TG-1 just going all the way over to basically Shadow Lake. It is kind of a result of the Bonanza Flat’s planning. It’s to help disperse people to other areas, to create other pods.”
Sturgis says he is glad he attended the conference. It was valuable to meet other land management organizations and learn about the trail building projects going on all over the country. A link to the http://www.trailbuilders.org/ can be found on KPCW.org.