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Theme: The Trail Center at the End of the Millennium

A Brief History of the Trail Center

The National Volunteer Project and National Outdoor Volunteer Network

The Changing Face of Volunteerism

The Changing Face of Public Lands

A Trail Center Index

A Catalog of Trail Projects, 1983-1999

Other Features

Support California Parks and Wildlife in the March 7th Election

Following the Ridgelines

In Memoriam: Will Rudge

Discovering the Textured Lands with a Hike up Black Mountain

Wild Lit

Note from the Literary Editor

Bear Following Birds - Maya Khosla

Union Valley Reservoir - Crystal Koch

Circles - Janice Dabney


From the Editor

Park News

Trail Center Notes

Upcoming Events

Along the Trail: Member Notes

The Trail Companion

Winter 2000

Theme: The Trail Center at the End of the Millennium

The National Volunteer Project and National Outdoor Volunteer Network

In December of 1981, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) began work on a proposal to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for a national program aimed at increasing volunteerism in the outdoors. Out of this proposal came the National Volunteer Project, with four main goals:

  • Improve the quality and quantity of outdoor recreation opportunities
  • Promote volunteerism and citizen participation
  • Improve management and organization of voluntary groups
  • Ensure lasting gains for volunteers in six target areas and beyond

     The Mellon Foundation agreed to fund the proposal and NVP representatives traveled to NVP project areas to help establish six demonstration projects (which included the Trail Information and Volunteer Center) in Florida, New Mexico, California, Colorado and Washington State, with a seventh soon added in Pennsylvania.
     The NVP aimed to be successful in only three years, so most of the early efforts for all the new organizations focused on ambitious projects responding to whatever needed to be done in their particular area. For the TIVC, that meant helping organize Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Days with events at numerous parks and involving hundreds of volunteers. Once the NVP organizations had established a record of successful projects, each moved into considering more long-term goals, as well as developing independent funding to take them past the end of the Mellon grant.
     In 1987, the NVP wound down and was proclaimed a success. Over the five years since the beginning of the program, over 600 miles of trail had been constructed and nearly 200 public service projects had been completed (including 68 sponsored by the Trail Center). The new organizations now formed the National Outdoor Volunteer Network (NOVN). Although the network was not actively maintained in the succeeding years, each of the new organizations had become an established force in bringing volunteers into the outdoors.

A Profile of NVP Organizations

Florida Trail Association (FTA)

Florida Trails Association logoVolunteers interested in developing the Florida Trail founded the Florida Trail Association in 1975. Although the FTA predated the NVP program, the infusion of funds and organizational help allowed the group to greatly expand its efforts. Today, the focus of the FTA and its fifteen chapters remains on the Florida Trail which runs from Miami north to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the northwest Florida panhandle.

New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors (NMVFO)

New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors logoNMVFO runs numerous projects throughout the state each project season (March-October). Recent projects have included restoration at Coronado State Monument, as well as trail work on many public lands. 35 projects are planned for 2000, including trail work the Blue Range Wilderness.

Tahoe Rim Trail Association (California and Nevada) (founded as the Tahoe Rim Trail Fund)

Tahoe Rim Trail logoThe Association has nearly met its goal of completing the 150 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, which encompasses the ridge tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin, crossing six counties, two states and overlapping with approximately fifty miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. They run workdays from the end for June until the middle of October, including two weekend backcountry camps each season. Once the trail is complete (only a few miles remain), the focus will shift to maintenance.

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC)

Volunteers for Outdoor Washington logoVOC is the largest of the NVP organizations, hosting volunteer programs throughout the state from April-October, in partnership with land management agencies and other non-profits. Projects range from 25 volunteers repairing trails in wilderness areas to 1300 volunteers planting trees along an urban greenway. VOC runs a volunteer clearinghouse and has an active training program with workshops in leadership, trail construction and maintenance skills, and program management. Much of the material in the Trail Center's Crew Leader Training Manual was initially adapted from VOC's excellent trail manual.

Volunteers for Outdoor Washington (VOW)

Volunteers for Outdoor Washington logoLike the VOC, VOW sponsors volunteer projects throughout Washington State. VOW volunteers contribute up to 20,000 hours annually to projects both in wilderness and urban areas. With only 20 hours of paid staff time, VOW is able to apply nearly all of their funds toward projects. One of their most high-profile projects is the Iron Goat Trail, a rails-to-trails project in the Stevens Pass area of the Washington Cascades 60 miles north of Seattle, which will eventually include several miles of barrier-free trail.

Volunteers for Outdoor Allegheny (VOA) (Pennsylvania)

     The most local of the NVP organizations, VOA focused on programs in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Until its dissolution in the early 1990s, VOA worked toward development, maintenance, and improvement of public-access natural areas in the Allegheny County region, including trails and parks. Projects included trail maintenance, roundup of over-populating Canada Geese for transfer to more appropriate habitat, and planting of over 1,200 native tree species in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park.

Related Stories

A Brief History of the Trail Center
The Changing Face of Volunteerism
The Changing Face of Public Lands
A Trail Center Index
A Catalog of Trail Projects, 1983-1999

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