People Powered Progress Provides Momentum for 2017
What an eventful year 2016 was! From the early success in passing the Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force legislation to our current efforts to improve the Shoshone Mountain Bike Route Designation, Wyoming Pathways has been busy working on behalf of those in the Cowboy State who travel and recreate in a “people-powered” way on our wonderful pathways and trails.
This year Wyoming Pathways celebrates 5-years of service as the statewide voice for people that bike and walk, and we would like to thank you for supporting our work and hope that the progress we’ve made will warrant your continued support. As the only statewide nonprofit organization advocating for biking and walking issues and needs, Wyoming Pathways works to ensure that programs our local communities depend on continue, and that Wyoming’s state agencies and public land managers provide the support needed for local pathway, trail, and complete streets projects to succeed. Together with your support we can continue to do great things for Wyoming’s communities and public lands.
In 2017, Wyoming Pathways will build on the momentum generated in 2016, continuing its work to support all aspects of the People-Powered Movement. With continuing projects to support and new initiatives to pursue, we will be working hard in the new year to make Wyoming a better and safer place to bike and walk for all. Projects we will be focusing our energy on include:
Shoshone Non-Motorized Travel Management and Mountain Bike Route Designation – Thanks to the hundreds of people that helped comment on the Shoshone Trail plans, your voices will help make a difference! Wyoming Pathways will continue to work with our partners in the region and the Forest Service to improve trails now, and continue to develop a comprehensive non-motorized trail system that serves forest visitors and Wyoming communities.
Pole Mountain Trail Project – Exciting things are brewing for Laramie and the Medicine Bow NF. The Trail Charrette Wyoming Pathways organized last summer jump-started a long stalled process, and the Forest Service is now actively collaborating with a large coalition of trail groups to develop a partnership framework for improved maintenance and high quality trails on Pole Mountain. Wyoming Pathways is continuing to support these efforts. In partnership with the Forest Service and local groups, we applied for a $46,000 federal trail grant to fund a major trail maintenance project on Pole Mountain this summer. GREAT NEWS – the grant was just approved! We anticipate significant trail work being accomplished in 2017, and will be reaching out soon for volunteers and support. The project will repair damaged system trails and greatly improve the recreation trails serving Laramie, Cheyenne and the region.
Public Lands –Wyoming Pathways supports keeping our public lands public. We’ve joined the Keep it Public, Wyoming! coalition to oppose the federal land transfer constitutional amendment that was being considered by a Wyoming legislative committee. The bill was withdrawn due to the overwhelming opposition of people around Wyoming. Thanks to everyone that helped contact their legislators. We encourage you to stay vigilant. Keep up to date here: http://keepitpublicwyo.com/our-supporters/.
Rather than land transfers, we believe closer cooperation and engagement with public land managers and Wyoming communities is a better solution. Wyoming Pathways is leading by example with the Medicine Bow on Pole Mountain Trails project. We will also continue to support the efforts of the WCCA Wyoming Public Land Initiative to be sure trails and improved public access are part of the discussions on Wilderness study areas.
Greater Yellowstone Trail – The 180-mile Greater Yellowstone Trail (GYT) connects Jackson Hole Wyoming with West Yellowstone Montana via sections of the old Yellowstone rail line through Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, Ashton, and Island Park.
In 2015 Wyoming Pathways helped lead a planning effort with local and regional partners that developed a Concept Plan for the GYT. The Concept Plan includes maps of the proposed route, descriptions of the existing trails and pathways, proposed projects needed to complete the GYT, and implementation steps. Our efforts so far helped secure $2.6 million for new pathway sections on Teton Pass between Wilson WY and Victor ID. This year Wyoming Pathways will help seek a new federal grant to continue to work on the Teton Pass Wyoming section of the GYT.
Its possible to combine existing pathways and back roads, so the paved and gravel route is rideable today with roughly 70% complete, and offers an adventure filled experience.
Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force – The Wyoming Legislature and Governor Mead created the Task Force this past year, and the group completed a draft report last fall. The Task Force is working on the Final Report that’s due October 2017. As the appointed Chairman of the Task Force, Tim Young will continue to help lead the development of the report. The next meeting is January 30. The public can listen in. Be on the lookout for public comment opportunities, and you can keep up to date at the Wyoming Business Council web page for this effort.
Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force – In addition to the Bicycle Pedestrian Task Force, Governor Mead’s new Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Task Force will continue its work with a series of meetings in 2017. Wyoming Pathways board member Melanie Arnett was appointed to the group and will continue to look out for the interests of non-motorized recreation. We will keep you advised of any significant developments as the Task Force moves forward.
Wyoming Outdoor Business Association – With research scheduled to be completed in early 2017, the WYOBA should become an operating association in 2017. With outdoor recreation becoming more important to the Wyoming economy, the new association will focus on supporting outdoor businesses and working with them to promote an “outdoor business friendly” environment in the state.
Youth Programs – Wyoming Pathways will continue to support youth mountain biking programs such as the Stone Temple MTB Camps and Stone Temple 8 MTB race and looks to expand its support to the high school MTB racing teams in the coming year.
Health and Educational Programs – Wyoming Pathways has been a leader in making the connection with active transportation and recreation, and improved public health. The research is clear – active people are healthier people, and healthier people enjoy better lives with lower heath care costs. We will look to expand our programs and partnerships that promote healthy and fun “people-powered” activities like biking, walking, and Nordic skiing through partnerships with the WY Department of Health and public health advocates.
National Bike Summit – This March Wyoming Pathways Director and several folks from around Wyoming will again attend the National Bike Summit in DC. We’ll visit with our Wyoming Delegation to discuss biking, walking and trails issues, and seek their continued support for Wyoming’s pathways and trails, and discuss how federal transportation and recreation programs can be improved to better support the needs of Wyoming communities and promote healthy active living. Space remains if you can join us – March 6-9, 2017 in Washington DC.
2017 Wyoming Bike-Walk-Trail Summit – Wyoming Pathways and partners are planning another statewide gathering of biking, walking, and trails advocates. The dates will be announced soon. We hope you can join fellow advocates, state and local government leaders, and public land agencies as we explore best practices and develop stronger partnerships to improve our community pathways and trails.
Summary – Through these and other efforts, Wyoming Pathways will continue to support healthy and fun people-powered activities in the state in the coming year. Being effective in theses efforts requires smart advocacy at the local, state and federal levels and we will work hard to coordinate our efforts with local advocates to bring positive results to Wyoming communities. With your help, we will continue to support local partners and advocate for enhanced state and federal-level efforts to create quality pathway and trail systems and safe streets for biking and walking across Wyoming.