Washington Trails Association Programs
Trails provide us with a link to the natural world, whether they’re in our backyard or in the wilderness. Here in Washington, we’re fortunate to have many that could be considered both. Yet without regular maintenance and repair, there’s no guarantee that our trails will be there for future generations to explore.
With 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. Volunteers contribute 100,000 hours annually to keep trails open to the public and safe for the environment. Fifteen percent of WTA's trail work is carried out by youth and teens. Since 1993, WTA has contributed over $15 million in donated labor to Washington's parks and forests.
WTA also 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 1.7 million people annually through a website (wta.org), the bi-monthly Washington Trails magazine, and community events across the state.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Right now we’re seeing the strongest volunteer response we’ve ever had since our trail maintenance program began in 1993. This highlights a strong desire among people of all ages to give back to Washington’s wild places as well as the growing need for volunteer stewardship of our public lands. In 2012, WTA's 2,700 adult and youth volunteers preserved and maintained a record 170 trails up and down the Cascades and Olympics and all the way to the Idaho border.
WTA has been fighting to preserve access to public lands in the face of massive state budget deficits. Our most significant victory came in spring 2011, when we prevented the closure of State Parks and other state recreation lands like Mount Si. We brought hikers together and worked with legislators to develop a reasonable, new funding source to keep these special places open.
Individuals and foundations invest in WTA because of 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.