Lander Community Trail Charrette Update – A Great Success and Report Coming Soon!

The Lander Community Trail Charrette Report was released on July 16, 2019.  The Report summarizes the background information, process and findings of the Charrette.  It can be downloaded here.

The Lander Community Trail Charrette was held Friday and Saturday, April 5-6, 2019 in Lander, WY, and by all accounts was a great success.  Attendance was beyond expectations for both the main Charrette event on Friday and the Open House on Saturday.  We thank all those who attended and contributed.  The knowledge of the area’s trail systems demonstrated by attendees and their active participation helped create an effective dialogue about Lander’s trails and the future direction of trail system maintenance and development in the Lander area. It was truly helpful to the success of the event to have such a strong turn out by the Lander community and local land agencies for the event.

After being greeted Friday morning by Wyoming Pathways Board Members, Clair Smith and Gordon Edward at registration and grabbing coffee and cookies provided by the Lander Bakery, over 50 attendees gathered in the meeting room at the Lander Community Center for the start of the event.  Once seated, they were welcomed by event facilitator, Nicole Gautier of the UW Ruckleshaus Institute and Tim Young, Executive Director of Wyoming Pathways.

Nicole then gave attendees an overview of the Charrette process and what to expect.  Next up were presentations from representatives of the attending land agencies, including Jared Oakleaf from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Steve Schacht of the United States Forest Service (USFS), Cody Booth of the Office of State Land Investments and Darrin Westby of Wyoming State Parks.  These presentations provided background to attendees on the issues surrounding trail system development and management, with the associated brief Q & A beginning the exchange of information between the groups that was to be the hallmark of the event.

Following the land agency presentations, it was on to the first breakout session of the day, an overall trail system needs assessment.  Following some general directions from Nicole, attendees split into groups, poured over maps of the various trail systems in the area, had rousing discussions about the strengths and weaknesses and challenges and opportunities of each system.  After this robust discussion, hungry attendees were ready for a break and refueled with a tasty pizza lunch.

The afternoon session kicked off with the second breakout session of the day, an assessments of trail specific needs.  Similar rousing discussions took place around the room as attendees focused-in on the most important needs of four specific trail areas, including Upper and Lower Sinks Canyon, State Parks, Johnny Behind the Rocks and the Bus Loops.  Again, attendees poured over maps and provided input on the most important needs and challenges of each area, using an innovative “dot voting system”.  This system determines a consensus of where attention is most needed for each area by allowing attendees to “vote” buy placing a limited number of colored dots next to the area issue.  It made for a highly interactive and colorful session.  To wrap-up the day, for each area, one person was selected to summarize the results of the session to the rest of the group.  All in all, it was a very productive day and as attendees left the meeting room, discussions carried out into the hallways and beyond as many attendees continued the discourse at post-Charrette get togethers at local pubs and eating establishments.  The Charrette portion of the event was a resounding success and organizers looked forward to the Open House session to follow.

Saturday’s Open House session was planned as an opportunity for those who could not attend the Friday Charrette to provide their input in a similar fashion as the Friday’s afternoon session.  Over 30 folks took time out of their valuable weekend to provide their opinions on their beloved local trails.  After a short orientation by Nicole, attendees were given their voting dots and encouraged to review the previous day’s work and add their voice to the discussion.  Over the next hour and a half, attendees added valuable input that substantially augmented that collected the previous day and provided plenty of data for Nicole and the Ruckleshaus staff to analyze.  As the event ended, there was a sense of great progress being made for the Lander area trails.  Attendees gained a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing land managers, the land managers learned of the concerns of trail users and both worked together to find solutions to those issues, challenges and concerns.  It was a big step forward for Lander area trails.

Following the Trail Charrette, the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute staff has been busy reviewing and organizing all the public and agency input that was collected. This is being compiled into a report that will summarize the results and provide recommendations for the future.

The Trail Charrette Report is being designed as a resource that will help inform future trail discussions and provide both land agencies and trail users a common point of reference.  The report will be available for download as a PDF on the website as soon as it is completed. In the meantime, we encourage folks to visit the website for additional updates, to contact the organizers or to view photos from the Charrette.

It seems that everyone had a great time and that the Lander Community Trail Charrette was a worthwhile and productive event.  It is hoped that having this opportunity to share ideas and opinions about the beloved Lander area trails and giving all parties the opportunity to add their voices to the discussion of their future will help ensure a vital trail system in Lander for many years to come.