With the support of hikers like you, 2015 was a standout year for Washington Trails Association.
WTA has succeeded in connecting people with trails, inspiring volunteers and building a community of trail advocates to protect and promote the places we love. Your passion and support helped us achieve new heights this year. We've broken records across the board: for trail maintenance volunteer hours (140,000 hrs.) number of volunteers (4,400), youth engagement (25 percent of all trail volunteers), trip reports (12,524) and trip reporters (4,716).
All year long, WTA has connected hikers with trails that inspire and motivate and volunteers with projects that are meaningful and much-needed. WTA expanded hiking opportunities in city, county, state and federal lands. We've advocated for recreational road access and for funding of Washington's state parks and forests.
We improved our website features to make it easier for hikers to recognize great trip reports, plan the next adventure or track the hikes they have completed.
It's been an excellent year, and WTA couldn't have done it without the support of our members and community. Many of you helped us with one of our most important accomplishments: the development of a strategic plan that we have already started to implement. As a result of more than 200 conversations with members and partners and 2,700 survey respondents, WTA refined our vision and how we hope to shape the future of hiking in Washington.
Please consider becoming a member or making a special donation to help fund more great work in 2016.
Record volunteer turn-out built and improved 180 trails across the state
- WTA completed a record 140,000 hours of volunteer trail work across the state in 2015. All told, more than 4,400 volunteers contributed $3.5 million in donated labor to trails close to urban areas, those in remote wilderness and everything in between.
- WTA volunteer crews completed 1,389 days of trail maintenance and construction. That’s like a paid trail crew cramming 5.3 years of full-time work into a single year!
- WTA volunteers made the most of the reopening of the Suiattle River Road after 11 years of closure. WTA worked with the Darrington Ranger District to clear downed trees, cut back brush and restore tread on several neglected trails, clearing the way for hikers to explore the western side of the Glacier Peak Wilderness once again. Support from the Back Country Horsemen of Washington and the Pacific Crest Trail Association was critical to successes here and elsewhere.
- WTA volunteers came to the aid of more than 100 trails in Washington's national parks and forests, from icons like the Pacific Crest Trail and the Wonderland Trail to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to family favorites Franklin Falls and Heather Lake. You can read more WTA 2015 trail maintenance highlights here.
Introducing kids and teens to the outdoors, stewardship and leadership
- WTA's Outdoor Leadership Training program, which empowers teachers and youth workers with the training and resources they need to lead safe and fun outdoor adventures, helped support more than 1,070 outdoor experiences. The OLT program's gear lending library expanded and continues to grow, adding snowshoe gear to its shelves.
- WTA broadened our youth community partners. WTA became a founding affiliate of the national Outdoors Empowered Network. We partnered with 60 different school and community groups, including The Student Conservation Association, Whatcom WILD, Mountaineers Explorers and Pioneers groups, Explorations Academy, Mercer Island VOICE, Eastside Catholic High School, Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative and various Boy and Girl Scout troops. As a result of this work in 25 percent of WTA's volunteers were youth in 2015.
- 24 teens joined WTA's Youth Ambassador Program to connect peers and community members with opportunities to engage with Washington Trails Association. The program builds leadership skills and amplifies outdoor stewardship messages. Learn more about WTA’s Ambassadors and their recent 2015 summit weekend.
- This year, WTA connected nearly 15,000 subscribing families to family-friendly hiking information and advice with our Families Go Hiking Newsletter.
- Youth also participated across WTA's programs, from 1,000 kids and teens working on trail to submitting trip reports and participating in Hike-a-Thon.
Connecting, informing and inspiring an amazing community of hikers
- 4,716 hikers have written more than 12,524 trip reports of their hikes this year, sharing hiking conditions, hidden trails and their experiences across the state.
- Washington Trails magazine shared unique hikes and trail news with WTA members including features on 35th anniversary of the Mount. St. Helens eruption and long distance hiking.
- During August's annual Hike-a-Thon, 289 amazing hikers hiked more than 11,300 miles and raised $123,043 to support WTA’s mission to protect and give back to trails.
- We hosted events across the state bringing hikers together to learn more about our work and discover a new favorite trail, including WTA’s fifth annual Hike-the-State event which brought 200+ attendees and regional experts who shared unique trail suggestions highlighting the geography of Washington.
- This year, outlets from Sunset Magazine, The New York Times, and The Washington Post and to our own local Everett Herald, Spokane Review, The Columbian and The Seattle Times directed readers to WTA for information and inspiration about Washington's wild places.
WTA is a strong voice for hikers and trails
- WTA worked with partners to help shape recreation policy in Washington, including the passage of No Child Left Inside and the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Position in the governor's office.
- WTA and other recreation and conversation organizations successfully protected two important national funding sources for public lands and trails, the Recreational Trails Program and Land and Water Conservation Fund.
- WTA advocates rallied to prevent timber harvesting close to the Pratt Lake and Granite Mountain trails. They also stopped the Ira Spring Trail from becoming log-hauling road.
- We advocated for increased recreation funding for State Parks and Department of Natural Resources in the legislature resulting in significant budget gains for both of these important land management agencies.
- As a member of the Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee, WTA is helping WA Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a management plan that supports hiking, biking and horseback riding trails in the newly established Teanaway Community Forest in Kittitas County.
Thanks to member support, WTA has achieved more for the hiking community in 2015 than ever before. In fact, we rely on the financial generosity of members like you for over half of our annual funding. Whether you've been a loyal member for years or just joined for the first time, we thank you.