Monday, January 19, 2009

What Can I Do To Protect Trail Access

As President-elect Obama prepares to take office, I often get asked by trail enthusiasts, “What can I do to preserve my riding opportunities?”

My first response is to remind folks of two old adages; most politics are local and all land-use decisions are political decisions. Based on those realties, I have always believed that engaging your local elected officials and building relationships with them is critically important.

As some of you already know, pro-access county supervisors or city councils can pass resolutions in support of quality trail programs on federal and state lands. Those resolutions and/or letters of support carry weight with the Forest Service, BLM, or state parks.

Also, building relationships with local land managers and their recreation staff is equally important. Helping as a trail volunteer, doing cleanups, etc. is a good way of getting to know your agency decision-maker.

I think we will have to wait and see just what direction the Obama administration takes on land-use. However, we don’t have to wait to start - or continue with – relationship building with local decision-makers.

In the end, all land-use decisions are political decisions. Building relationships with county supervisors, district rangers, area field managers, town council members, park superintendents, and forest supervisors is always a good strategy regardless of who is in the White House.

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