Gavan Hill Trail Loop; Photo: Haley Johnston
Gavan Hill Trail - Sitka; Photo: Haley Johnston
Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy
The Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy is complete!
Since 2020, Alaska Trails - under a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Challenge Cost Share agreement - has worked with the USFS and community partners to craft a Sustainable Trails Strategy for the Tongass National Forest. The process and products of this project were inspired by Alaska Trails’ Statewide Trails Investment Strategy This process offered an opportunity for communities in Southeast Alaska to share their priorities for trails and recreation with the USFS. Alaska Trails would like to thank our many partners across Southeast Alaska. Without your generous help, input and feedback, this project would not have been possible.
All chapters are available for review by clicking on the links below. You may also view or download the entire Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy here.
NATIONAL USFS POLICY
This Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy project builds from two national Forest Service policy documents: “National Strategy for a Sustainable Trail System” and the related “10-Year Trail Challenge – 2020 to 2030”.
"Sustainability is achieved at the junction where trails are socially relevant and supported, ecologically resilient, and economically viable... Now and into the future, the Forest Service will increasingly embrace a shared-stewardship approach in providing and managing a sustainable system of trails."
-key excerpt from the National Strategy (emphasis added)
The ultimate goal of the Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy (TSTS) was to offer recommendations to create a more sustainable trail system within the boundaries of the Tongass National Forest. However, several additional objectives were identified which will help achieve this broader goal. These specific goals included:
Complete an inventory of the existing USFS trails
Present existing data (if any) on trail use and trends for each Ranger District and Forest-wide
Identify existing and potential key partners across the Tongass
Facilitate stakeholder conversations to identify community and user group goals for Ranger District trail systems
Recommend trails to build, maintain or decommission for each Ranger District
Offer general approaches, policy changes or actions which could lead to a more sustainable trail system for each Ranger District and Forest-wide
Balls Lake Trail - Prince of Wales Island; Photo: Haley Johnston
This project has resulted in greater understanding of the needs and interests of residents, communities, and the outdoor recreation industry, and it will enable the USFS and the collective trail community to better position resources in support of desired use opportunities, access needs, and trail systems. For the Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy to be a useful document, Alaska Trails recommends the following:
Forest-level staff and leadership review the Forest-wide chapter and take meaningful action to address the structural and institutional recommendations for “Forest-wide General Approaches”
Individual Ranger District staff and leadership review the Forest-wide chapter and their Ranger District chapter
Consult the Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy when Ranger Districts prioritize their annual and long term trail maintenance, planning and construction
District Rangers and staff continue to dialogue and build relationships with the partners and community members that contributed to their District's chapter
The trails recommended for decommissioning (if any) in each Ranger District chapter are decommissioned to reduce the burden of maintenance for each Ranger District
The Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy is shared with regional, Forest-level and Ranger District partners
The Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy is used as a fundraising tool by partners to demonstrate community support for trail maintenance and construction
The Tongass Sustainable Trails Strategy is treated as a living document that will evolve over time as issues are addressed and trail projects are completed