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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

A Trail Work Party With Powerful History

Jan 16, 2019

This winter, WTA volunteers helped rejuvenate Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island.

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I Am My Ancestors' Wildest Dreams

by Bam Mendiola

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At Home in Nature

People might not always be welcoming, but when I'm outside, I can breathe freely and find peace | by Hamziye Aman

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GirlTrek: Walking as a Radical Act of Self-Care

Jun 28, 2018

GirlTrek started as a hiking club. It quickly grew into a movement to reverse the systemic health crisis experienced by black women and transform the health and well-being of entire communities.

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Proud to Help Foster an Inclusive Hiking Community

Jun 21, 2018

WTA is striving to create a space where everyone feels welcome and represented. We are grateful to powerful communities that continue to push for visibility and equitable inclusion in the outdoors.

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Back to Strength

After a major illness, trails were how I recovered | by Angelina Boulicault

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A Path to Healing

OCD, anxiety and eating disorders once controlled me. Discovering hiking showed me a way back to myself | by Christina Hickman

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Trails for All

As hiking's popularity booms, that includes a new wave of ethnic and racial diversity | by Lornet Turnbull

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In Defense of Well-Traveled Trails

Dec 05, 2017

Not all hikes require rough roads and long drives to find a dose of solitude. Well-traveled trails offer something different: they offer a community of hikers—many who are first-time users trying their hand at a new sort of adventure.

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