Washington Trails Association Programs
Trails provide us with a link to the natural world, whether they’re in our backyard or in the wilderness. Yet without regular maintenance and repair, there’s no guarantee that our trails will be there for future generations to explore.
Following a simple formula of "be safe, have fun, and get good work done," WTA has built one of the nation's most successful volunteer trail maintenance programs. Since 1993, WTA trail maintenance volunteers have contributed over one million hours and $20 million in donated labor to parks and forests in Washington. Volunteers contribute more than 120,000 hours annually to keep trails open to the public and safe for the environment. 25% of WTA’s volunteers are youth and teens.
WTA speaks up for hikers to ensure that our wild places - and the trails that take us there - will be protected for future generations. Through collaborative partnerships, lobbying, and grassroots advocacy, WTA focuses on state and federal issues like trail funding, hiker safety, and wilderness protection. When the state legislature is looking for a way to keep our state recreation lands open in the face of a budget crisis, WTA is there.
WTA's programs are based on the proven idea that getting people outside and exploring trails can inspire them to become environmental stewards. As the state's leading hiking resource, WTA serves 3.3 million people annually through a website (wta.org), our bi-monthly Washington Trails magazine, and community events across the state.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Washington Trails Association is experiencing the strongest volunteer response we’ve ever seen since our trail maintenance program began in 1993. People of all ages want to give back to Washington’s wild places. In 2014, WTA's 3,550 adult and youth volunteers completed more than 120,000 hours of service on 205 trails statewide.
WTA is also expanding our commitment to engaging youth. The future of our trails and wild places depends on developing the next generation of hikers, stewards, and outdoor leaders today. Through initiatives such as our new Outdoor Leadership Training program, gear lending library and Youth Ambassador program, WTA is introducing more youth to hiking and trail stewardship, with a focus on breaking down barriers for those who would otherwise not have opportunities to explore the outdoors.
WTA fights to preserve access to public lands in the face of massive state budget deficits. For example WTA worked with Olympia's decision-makers and advocates to ensure State Parks received $20 million in general funding for the 2014-2015 biennium.
There is a growing need for volunteer stewardship of our public lands. Contributions to WTA support our proven ability to leverage public and private resources with volunteer service – and provide one of the most cost-effective ways to protect and maintain trails, today and for future generations.