Trails coordinators do not hibernate in winter

Your opinion wanted: Formation of new trail committee seeks to be collaborative and open

As a long-time, seasonal trail worker, busting my tail in the summer and goofing off in the winter, I knew I was in for a bit of shock when I joined PPLT as a full-time, year-round trails coordinator. What does a trail worker do in the winter?

Apparently, everyone else wonders this too as my most common question out at the brewery or at social gatherings with friends is, “What do you do all winter?” It is not meant to be a slight; I understand where they are coming from. The ground is frozen and the trails are covered with snow. So what exactly is my role as PPLT trails coordinator during this half of the year?

I won’t bore you with all the details of how I stay productive (and I do!), but I want to highlight one important role I have learned to embrace this winter and how you are so critical to this role.

The planning and decision-making processes on our public lands are a web of committees, different processes involving different people at different times for different outcomes. There are committees for city projects and various committees for various parts of the forest. Forest plans, open lands plans and South Hills trails plans, oh my! In the face of all of these different levels of planning and development, it is no wonder many citizens feel intimidated to get involved in the process.

Enter a crucial role PPLT is trying to help fill this winter. Alongside our land managers and other trails stakeholders, we have helped develop the Helena Area Trails Committee (HATC), which is dedicated to providing a place for the public to discuss trails and recreation ideas and issues. We are striving to be a one-stop shop where folks interested in area trails can go to get plugged in with other groups; learn about planning efforts; engage with land managers, PPLT and other trails stakeholder; and have their voices heard.

These committee meetings are open to the public and we invite you to visit and let us get to know you. We are a volunteer committee made up of a broad group of trail users who are imperfect, but the more we can get to know you, the more effective we can be.

I invite you to join us for our meetings the second Monday of each month from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in City-County Building Room 326. Our next meeting will be March 12. Or, if you can’t make it during that time, please feel free to give me a call or send an email.

Happy Trails!