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TKO’s First Oregon Trails Summit

December 18, 2017

By Steve Kruger, Executive Director, Trailkeepers of Oregon

On October 27, trails professionals from nonprofits, outdoor recreation companies, and land management agencies came together in Bend, Oregon, for TKO’s first crack at hosting an Oregon Trails Summit.

A large high-ceilinged room with dozens of people at tables listening to a speaker at a podium.

An afternoon update on the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) by Oregon State Park’s Terry Bergerson. SCORP is Oregon’s five-year plan for outdoor recreation. Its primary purpose is to provide up-to-date, accurate information to assist recreation providers with park system planning in Oregon. Photo by Daniel Sharp Photography.

Trails professionals, dedicated volunteers, and outdoor enthusiasts have long needed to collaborate statewide, and our goals were simple:

  1. Provide an opportunity for the Oregon trails community to meet, build relationships, generate energy, find common ground, and learn from each other.
  2. Agree on shared goals to promote, perhaps through a broad statewide trails coalition.

William Sullivan, author of a dozen Oregon trail guides, kicked off the day with wonderful stories from his adventures. His stories from trails across the state grounded summit participants in our shared passion for connecting people to nature.

Throughout the day, trails advocates, land managers, and nonprofit leaders drove home how crucial trails are for individual and community health. Speakers made it clear that values of stewardship, collaboration, and access for Oregonians of all abilities and backgrounds transcend jurisdictional lines and user groups’ interests. Summit presenters and attendees shared their inspirational work on trails across the state and wrestled with how to increase access to trails and address overuse and restoration. An afternoon session identified common needs of groups working on trails development, maintenance, and access.

A brainstorming session identified common goals:

  • Organize and collaborate
  • Engage volunteers in stewardship opportunities
  • Increase community access, engagement, and trail user education
  • Increase funding for trails

Just over 200 individuals from federal, state, and local public agencies, nonprofit and volunteer groups, private industry, and mountain bike, hiking, equestrian, and other user groups participated in the summit. Oregon’s First Gentleman, Dan Little, provided the closing to a full day of learning.

And we just wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t put tools to trail! On Saturday, October 28, TKO partnered with Bend Parks & Recreation staff and hosted a work party at Riley Ranch Nature Preserve. This yet-to-open park is a beautiful nature preserve along the Deschutes River that connects to Tumalo State Park via the Deschutes River Trail. A ten-person bucket brigade helped develop a trail that climbs within the Deschutes River basin to a viewpoint along Bacon Butte.

A steep forested slope with three people wearing hard hats midway down the slope and a river at the bottom.

Oregon Trails Summit participants working on a Riley Ranch Nature Preserve trail. Photo by Steve Kruger.

TKO is committed to supporting an annual Oregon Trails Summit and the effort to create a statewide trails coalition. The summit has shown that the appetite for continuing collaboration is huge and the experience allows TKO to reach new communities across Oregon. TKO’s mission aligns with the summit participants’ desire for a coalition that can play a convening and organizing role as well as advocate for dedicated funding for trails development, construction, maintenance, and community access.

2017 Summit, by the numbers:

  • 209 participants
  • 24 presenters
  • 20 scholarship recipients
  • 15 sponsors and supporters
  • $16,576 in sponsorship support (including in-kind)

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Travel Oregon
  • Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
  • Metro Regional Government
  • National Park Service
  • Central Oregon Tourism Alliance
  • American Trails
  • REI Co-op
  • Alta Planning + Design
  • Parametrix
  • Progressive Trail Design
  • Deschutes Brewery
  • Trailhead Coffee Roasters

A special thanks to the 2017 Oregon Trails Summit planning committee members:

  • Steph Noll, Chair
  • Steve Kruger, Trailkeepers of Oregon
  • Lauralee Svensgaard, Oregon Recreation Trails Advisory Council
  • David Stipe, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
  • Robert Spurlock, Metro
  • Georgena Moran, Access Recreation
  • Kim McCarrel, Oregon Equestrian Trails
  • Janet Schmidt, REI Co-op
  • Jamie Fields, US Forest Service
  • Rika Ayotte, Discover Your Forest
  • Matthew Weintraub, Northwest Trail Alliance
  • Scott Rapp, Adventure Maps

Check out our video here!

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