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WTA's Top 5 Advocacy Wins in 2018

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Nov 12, 2018 04:46 PM |

2018 was a year of exciting successes for trails across the state.

by James Moschella

Our advocacy team loves what they do because it never stays the same. In the advocacy world, every issue tells a new story and impacts a different set of people. Working to support those people and the trails they love is a tale that always has a unique plot, and 2018 was full of stories from every genre. Here’s what we’re proud of from the last year:

Eightmile Lake by Wesley Smith.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is just one of many areas WTA has advocated to protect throughout 2018. Thousands of WTA advocates sent letters in an effort to stop potential harmful projects from changing the future of places like Eightmile Lake. Photo by Wesley Smith.

Study, study, study

In 2018, WTA worked tirelessly to promote the impacts of hiking to the broader public and find ways to envision the future of outdoor recreation in Washington. This meant two important pieces of legislation — our Hike, Bike, Walk study and the continuation of a study to review the recreation access fee program. The Hike, Bike, Walk study will look at the economic and health benefits of those outdoor recreation activities, while the recreation access fee study seeks ways to improve the fee system and make it simpler and more equitable.

Our biggest Washington Trails Day yet

On Aug. 4, hikers and WTA volunteers gathered at national forest trailheads across the state to celebrate the sixth annual Washington Trails Day. More than 3,400 hikers signed postcards, asking the Forest Service to prioritize recreation and trails on their lands. WTA was fortunate enough to bring that community-fueled enthusiasm (and the postcards) to Portland, where we welcomed Glenn Casamassa, the new regional forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest region, which covers sites in Washington and Oregon. 

Shaping the future of Washington’s trails

WTA contributed to major planning efforts across the state, helping to shape future recreation systems, including trails and roads, and providing a voice for the hiking community in the decision-making process. We helped planning efforts in areas including Whatcom County, the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, the Teanaway Community Forest, Wallace Falls and Gothic Basin.

Putting trails back on the map

WTA has been developing new campaigns this year. The first of these is our Lost Trails Found campaign, which works to restore backcountry trails before they disappear. Funding declines in recent years have meant it can be difficult to keep some trails open and accessible for users to enjoy. By 2020, we’ll have reclaimed three lost trails and protected another 40 trails at risk of being lost. We’re working on new campaigns to help hikers across the state. Watch for more information on those soon.

Growing up and speaking out!

This year, WTA’s advocacy team grew to four, and as a result, 2018 was one of WTA’s most engaged years yet. We asked advocates to pledge to pick up trash, support forest funding and act to protect the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and they responded overwhelmingly! Nearly 10,000 advocates in 46 states took action to support trails. 

This article originally appeared in the Nov+Dec 2018 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.