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2020 Conference Sessions

Pre-Conference Session

Leave No Trace

Mitch Warnick, Leave No Trace

Steve Cleary, Alaska Trails

An overview of the Leave No Trace program and information on this summer's LNT Hot Spot training on the Crow Pass-Iditarod National Historic Trail

Thursday, April 23

10:00 AM

ESRI Storymaps: How geospatial storytelling can redefine your public interface while boosting boring master plans, grant applications, capital campaigns, & more.

Cameron Sanders (aka Renaissance Cyclist) - Owner of A Lens for Wanderlust

Trails, photos, maps and stories all come together is this innovative format.

11:00 AM 

Making Sense of Dollars: Federal Highway Funds for Trail Projects?

Miles Brookes - Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Alaska Division

Federal highway funding dollars may not seem like the most logical place to look when funding your trail project, but three Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) programs exist for advancing such projects.  These programs provide an average of up to $14 million annually for Alaskan trail projects.  This presentation will explore the Recreational Trails (RTP), Transportation Alternatives (TAP), and Federal Lands Access (FLAP) Programs all which can be utilized for advancing trail initiatives.  The nuances of these programs including funding amounts, requirements, eligibility, and funding cycles will be discussed. 

1:00 PM 

USFS - National Crosscut and Chainsaw Program

Pete Duncan - National Saw Program Manager, SPTAG Chair

Austin O'Brien - Alaska Region Saw Program Manager

The new Forest Service saw policy directs the use of chainsaws and crosscut saws on National Forest System lands. Forest Service employees, volunteers, partners, and other cooperators can now access consistent training, evaluation, and certification. A highlight of the new policy enables volunteer, partner, and cooperator groups to train, evaluate, and certify their members. The Forest Service National Saw Program and the National Saw Technical Advisory Group (SPTAG) leads implementation of the new policy.

2:00 PM 

Healing Trails

Maeve Nevins-Lavtar – Senior Park Planner, Municipality of Anchorage

Healing Trails: In a time of chaos, join our speaker, Maeve Nevins-Lavtar, as she takes us on a journey into the planning, design and construction of a variety of unique “healing trails” both in Alaska and beyond. She’ll explore recent examples from her 2019 construction season of building both temporary and permanent labyrinths. You’ll gain insight into design trends that could be employed immediately as the covid pandemic forces more people to utilize neighborhood trails and public lands.

Friday, April 24

9:00 AM 

A Federal Legislative Update from the office of Senator Murkowski

Annie Hoefler - Senior Staff Person for Senator Murkowski

Annie Hoefler, senior staff person for Senator Murkowski to the Senate Energy and Resources Committee (Murkowski chairs that committee) will discuss pending bills that give options for trails and trail agency funding.

10:00 AM

Connect Anchorage: Health, trails – and what it can mean for other AK communities

Karol Fink - State of Alaska

Diana Rhoades - Anchorage Park Foundation

Presenters will highlight the health benefits of trails and detail a new project from the Anchorage Park Foundation to promote trails. Join us virtually to share your community trail ideas and ways to better connect people, trails and health.

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Trails Investment Strategy: Ambitious Goals, Accomplishments So Far, Next Steps

Erik Boraas - Board Member, Alaska Trails

Chris Beck - Board Member, Alaska Trails

Alaska has underinvested in trails for decades. Working with our core team and other partners we’ve produced an ambitious first draft “Trails Investment Strategy”, outlining specific trail project priorities in northern SE Alaska, and along the “Seward to Fairbanks” Adventure Corridor.  In this session we’ll open up the major recommendations of that draft document for discussion. We want to hear what you like, what you question, and what are the most practical strategies to dramatically expand political support and funding for “more and better trails” in Alaska. 

1:00 - 1:30 PM 

Trail Towns – Connections to Community Economic Health & Quality of Life

Lia Slemons - KMTA National Heritage Area

Michael Downs - Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance NPS

“Trail Towns” is an identifier for a growing national movement of communities working collaboratively to guide and benefit from trails passing within and through their towns.  Initial work is underway with communities between Seward and Anchorage to help explore options to take deliberate advantage of existing and planned trail expansions.  Alaskan outreach is currently paused to allow for focus on COVID-19 mitigation. This session will introduce opportunities and outcomes of the Trail Towns approach with an eye towards future economic revitalization work and encourage live discussion.

2:00 PM

Advocacy Issues in Outdoor Recreation

Lee Hart - Founder, Alaska Outdoor Alliance

Hart will explore post-Coronavirus outdoor recreation issues and advocacy. Alaska Outdoor Alliance is on the web at: and is dedicated to diversifying the economy, improving lives and stimulating local economies through strengthening Alaska’s outdoor recreation sector.

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