Wyoming Pathways has been awarded the National 2019 Coalition for Recreational Trails Achievement Award.
The group advocates for outdoor, people-powered recreation like hiking, biking, and skiing. It was recognized for the large number of relationships, especially private-public relationships, that it helped to create and grow.
In 2016, the Forest Service based out of Laramie reached out to Wyoming Pathways for assistance with trail maintenance and rebuilding at Pole Mountain. That first year, the group partnered with the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute and held an all-day public meeting to assess the trails and plan for their rehabilitation.
Every summer since, Wyoming Pathways coordinated rebuilding with Wyoming Conservation Corps., hosted community trail work days and engaged with several local groups. Tim Young, the Director of Wyoming Pathways, said he's proud of the number of relationships the group has fostered.
"That's in part [because] one of the outcomes of this broader project that has the national forest as the land manager, community groups in Laramie and our organization helping lead some of these trail building projects," Young said. "And all those together is really why the Coalition for Recreational Trails recognized us. It was recognizing the strong public-private partnership success towards enhancing recreation on our public lands."
Though the Pole Mountain Trail Project has been underway for four years, Young estimates that there's still over ten years of work left to be done, due to the number of trails that need to be worked on.
"It really is going to take continued work to bring it up to the standard that I think Southeast Wyoming would like to see their close to home trails," Young said, referencing the well-built, sustainable trails that have been built in the last two years.
Last year, Wyoming Pathways coordinated the rebuilding of damaged sections of Headquarters Trail and Middle Aspen Trail, totaling about two miles. This August, they plan to rebuild approximately two miles of Aspen Trail.
"These close to home trails have ripple effects in terms of economic development and improving the livability of our communities," Young said. "We're really excited about those aspects that are helping with some of the goals that the state of Wyoming has set for diversifying the economy and improving the desirability of our communities for people to relocate to."
A plan has already been started for a trail that connects Laramie, the new Pilot Hill area, and Pole Mountain. The hope is that they will break ground within a few years.