What a great year at Washington Trails Association!
In 2011, WTA engaged hikers at all levels, from choosing the right hike to connecting adult and youth volunteers with much-needed work on trails throughout Washington. Hikers rallied to keep state parks open by supporting a new state Discover Pass, shared more than 5,100 trip reports from hikes on wta.org, volunteered on 153 different trails in Washington, and much more.
Read about WTA's accomplishments for 2011 below, then think about what you could do in 2012 to help trails. Become a member of WTA for the first time, volunteer on a trail work party, or attend Hiker Lobby Day in February.
And to everyone who volunteered, wrote a trip report, made a gift or wrote to their legislator in 2011, thank you! We mean it. These milestones are yours, too.
A Record Number of Volunteers
- More than 2600 volunteers worked at least one day on trail in 2011, contributing more than 100,000 hours of work to trails in Washington. The increase was fueled by 1,650 hikers who turned out for their first work party.
- WTA volunteers maintained 153 different trails through efforts on 720 trail work parties and 1,006 days of volunteer trail maintenance. This is the equivalent of 2.5 years of trail work, all in one year. Highlights of WTA's Signature Trail Projects include a new trail to the top of Guemes Mountain, ribbon-cutting on a re-route of the Glacier Basin Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, and reclaiming the Colonel Bob Trail in the Olympics and Quartz Creek in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest from hundreds of fallen trees. We also constructed a new 30-foot bridge on the Cape Horn trail in the Columbia River Gorge, and created a new year-round hiking opportunity for the City of Sammamish.
- WTA's volunteer trail crews worked in five national forests, two national parks, seven state parks, two county park systems, the State Department of Natural Resources, and a city park system. That's a lot of public lands. And we accomplished this trail work through 580 one-day work parties, 37 Backcountry Response Teams, 24 Volunteer Vacations, and 15 Youth Volunteer Vacations. See the full map of all of WTA's trail work locations here.
We Connected Youth with the Outdoors
- More than 10% of WTA's volunteer trail maintenance was performed by teens under 18. Over 9,100 hours came by way of summer Youth Volunteer Vacations, a hugely popular program with a more than 42% return rate. Another 4.200 hours of work came from individual youth and community youth group partners volunteering a day or two at a time. See where they worked.
- WTA introduced hundreds of kids and families to hiking, offering online resources for families and a workshop series in the Puget Sound area.
We're the Top Source for Hiking Information in Washington
- More than 1.2 million unique viewers visited WTA's website in 2011, where hikers found the info they sought to plan their trips, stay safe and share their experiences. User-submitted Trip Reports jumped 38 percent over 2010, with more than 1850 hikers contributing 5,100 reports highlighting current trail conditions.
- Washington Trails became a full-color magazine, better showcasing the beauty of Washington's wild lands. The bi-monthly mag explored why hikers love the Pacific Crest Trail, reviewed pack-loads of gear, taught us how to take better photos, and much more.
- WTA's first Hike-the-State event was a huge success, bringing together more than 150 hikers with regional experts who shared dozens of great hike suggestions from around the state. We also attended nearly 50 events this year to educate the public about where to hike and how they can give back to the trails they love.
- Social media has become a core element of WTA's engagement work, with 15,750 Facebook fans and 3,600 Twitter followers who plug in every day to WTA's mission.
- WTA's cutting-edge online engagement efforts were recognized by the non-profit Groundwire with its first Connector Award for Engagement Leadership.
WTA Supported the Discover Pass, Kept State Parks and DNR Lands from Closing
- Washington State Parks and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lands stayed open in 2011 because Washington Trails Association and hikers helped state legislators enact the Discover Pass legislation, a new vehicle permit that provides funds to State Parks, DNR and Washington Fish and Wildlife for recreation purposes. The Washington state budget is in a dire fiscal crisis and this new dedicated revenue kept some parks from being shuttered completely. As part of this process, WTA brought 75 hikers to Olympia in February to ensure this pass was fair and sustainable, and more than 2,000 hikers signed WTA's petition supporting the user fee.
- WTA fought for reauthorization of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which has received funding through March 31, 2012. RTP grants provide essential funding for trail maintenance to land managers and non-profit organizations. WTA's trail maintenance program receives 20% of its trail work budget from RTP, and we leverage that money five-fold when we do trail maintenance on state and federal lands.
Thanks to member support, WTA has achieved more for the hiking community in 2011 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.