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WTA’s Commitment to Stand Against Racism

Washington Trails Association is committed to trails for everyone, forever. To make that a reality, we must all come together to make the nation a more just, equitable and safe place for everyone, everywhere, regardless of the color of their skin. As a White-led organization, we know it is our work to help dismantle institutional racism. We are constantly working to become an equitable organization and standing up against all racial injustice. We are dedicated to working with our community and partners to overcome the deep and enduring impacts of racism in our organization and in the outdoor recreation environment more broadly. We have much work to do.

Why this matters 

Racial justice is essential to our mission. People of color often face unique challenges to getting outdoors, including inequitable access to local trails due to unwarranted suspicion, confrontation and violence when recreating outdoors; a history of underinvestment in particular communities; and structural inequity that creates high barriers for some individuals and communities to participate in outdoor activities. Until our nation is a just, equitable and safe place for everyone and until the outdoors is welcoming and accessible to hikers of all backgrounds, regardless of race, we won’t truly have trails for everyone, forever. 

What we’re doing 

WTA has been actively working on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for several years — and we acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do both in our organization and with the broader outdoor community. Events in the news continue to highlight the ongoing history of racial violence against people of color in America. It is critical for White-led organizations and beneficiaries of dominant culture in the outdoor community to examine the racial inequities inherent in our industry and to take steps to dismantle structural racism and systemic white privilege in all its forms. 

Here are some of the steps we’re taking: 

Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan: In 2020, WTA wrapped up our first DEI plan (read our report on our progress). The plan focused on reducing barriers to the outdoors faced by historically marginalized communities, including people of color. That work will continue, and we are working with our board, staff and community partners to refresh this plan for the next 2-3 years. We commit to sharing the specific actions we plan to take to continue to reduce those barriers, to work anti-racism into our curriculum and trainings, and lift up those working to undo the history of inequity and institutionalized racism. 

Organizational learning: As a predominantly White organization, it is incumbent upon us to understand what we can do to better support the people of color on our staff, partners and communities of color, and to explore ways to make our organization and culture a more attractive place to work. This also applies to better supporting our staff and partners from all communities of color. We commit to examining and improving our own recruiting, hiring and retention policies and practices to make them more equitable, and to undoing practices, policies and ways of doing business that are rooted in White dominant culture.

Direct support to community groups: One way we have already been supporting community groups and partners is through our Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT) mini-grant program. This program provides up to $500 in funding assistance to community partners to help mitigate the cost of outdoor experiences for youth. We commit to building on this program to expand our level of support to of color. Learn more about how to apply

Amplifying voices: Finally, we have an opportunity to continue to use our platform to amplify the messages of people of color.  We commit to examining how we include and amplify voices through our magazine, website and social media channels and to identifying ways to further lift up those voices.

Collection of WTA’s past writing and work on DEI

What We've Learned in Our Work Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Oct 12, 2021

In early 2018, we rolled out a diversity, equity and inclusion plan at WTA. Over the last 3 years, we’ve consistently worked toward the goals in that plan. Now, we want to take a moment to reflect on our work and some key lessons we’ve learned.

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Bravespace Film Reclaims the Outdoors for Women of Color

A new film puts Black, Indigenous and women of color in front of and behind the camera to create community and connection. | By Jessi Loerch

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Take This Survey — And Help Make King County Parks More Equitable

Jul 22, 2021

King County Parks is soliciting community feedback via survey on priorities, needs and barriers related to park, trail and natural area access.

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'You Belong' Washington-Based Film Centers the Stories of Women of Color

Mar 25, 2021

A new film seeks to build community in the outdoors for women of color — and help reshape the narrative of who belongs in outdoor spaces.

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Building Space for Everyone on Trail

This BIPOC trail crew faces racism, but they’ve also found the power of being together in community | By Zach Toliver

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The Journey Toward Trails for Everyone

by Charlie Lieu

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Creating a Refuge for People of Color in the Outdoors

Jan 05, 2021

How Chevon Powell built an event for people of color in the outdoors — and why that’s more important than ever right now.

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Conservation & Social Justice: "We're All Traveling on the Same Trail"

Luis Villa, Executive Director of Latino Outdoors, reflects how a hike in Costa Rica sparked a new understanding of the connections between social and environmental movements.

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Tribes and Treaty Rights: An Acknowledgment of Indigenous Lands

Oct 12, 2020

We respectfully acknowledge the lands we are visiting are the homelands of Indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest, some of whom have reserved treaty rights on these lands. Please tread gently and treat these places with respect.

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