Hikers Turn Out for Trail Funding on Washington Trails Day
Last weekend, WTA talked to a thousand hikers at trailheads across the state. Most of them were excited to speak up for trails and trail funding.
by Crystal Gartner
At about 7:15 a.m. on Aug. 5, I began setting up the WTA table at the Snow Lake trailhead under a cherry-red sun filtered by the haze from Canadian forest fires. Dedicated WTA volunteers at five other locations around the state—Beacon Rock State Park, Riverside State Park, Park Butte, Rattlesnake Ledge and Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park—were doing the same, and I wasn’t sure how the smoky conditions would impact hiker turnout.
We were offering hiking information, helpful tips, along with a petition for hikers to sign urging lawmakers to fully fund public lands. But the weather was far from ideal for hiking. With so much at stake for trail users and Congress deciding how much funding to allocate to already severely underfunded trails and public lands, would we reach enough people?
I needn’t have worried. The first hiker I met was only too glad to sign the petition asking Congress to champion fully funded trails. Happily, this theme repeated all day, all over the state.
WTA volunteer Janice Van Cleve reported that one hiker, a WTA member, returned to the table after her hike to remark how nice it was to hike with so many different kinds of hikers.
Regardless of their plans for the day, hikers made time to stop by the table and chat with us. We even met a bachelorette party, complete with t-shirts that glittered with “Bride”, “Bridesmaid” and “Maid of Honor” who stopped by to sign the petition.
At Riverside State Park in Spokane, WTA volunteer Jay DeWitt brought plenty of cold water to share with hot hikers, who gratefully gulped it in the 92-degree heat.
Our volunteer tables were inundated with hundreds of people from all over Washington and the U.S., of all backgrounds and recreation interests, and we surpassed our goals. So far, 62 trip reports have been shared with representatives, and 2,400 and counting have signed the petition for federal trail funding, making this the biggest Washington Trails Day in its 5-year history.
As one WTA volunteer said, “It was a fun time, and encouraging to see so many people not only on the trails but also wanting to speak up for them.”
If you haven’t yet spoken up for the trails and special places you love, it’s not too late. Sign our petition to Congress today, who need to hear from you on this issue now. If you want to take an extra step, write and share a trip report with your legislators.