Trail advocates who go the extra mile
Trails have the potential to be more than just corridors. They can be hubs for community, pathways to wellness, connectors to nature, and destinations for tourists.
How does a trail reach this level of importance? One invaluable ingredient: a community of dedicated volunteers working in partnership with trail staff.
The folks at the Gateway Brown’s Creek Trail Association (GBCTA) know this secret recipe well and have fostered a community of stewards whose appreciation for the trail is infectious.
Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota is proud to announce our 2021 Friends Group Partner Award goes to the GBCTA. This is the second year P&TC has recognized a friends group with this award, and the accompanying $500 grant, which the friends group can use to continue its great work on behalf of the trail.
The GBCTA’s origin story is closely tied to P&TC, as volunteers from both organizations worked to established the trail decades ago. Since then, the GBCTA volunteers have built up a thriving organization, that today engages volunteers in everything from advocacy at the state capitol to picking up horse poop.
Their advocacy, this past year, centered on trying to extend the trail with a 3-mile segment between William O’Brien State Park and the city of Scandia. No bill passed to fund this project, but their organizing galvanized people to the cause and builds momentum as they continue the push. Meanwhile, the group showed a commitment to the statewide system of DNR-managed trails by joining in P&TC’s effort to pass legislation that would fund trail maintenance for the system.
Community is important to the GBCTA and they organize several events throughout the year, including candlelight walks and ski/snowshoe luncheons. The pandemic thwarted many of these plans last year, but they came up with creative ways to engage at a distance, including by greeting trail users with inspirational poems, quotes and pictures written in chalk along the trail on Earth Day.
Volunteers installed and monitored bluebird houses along the trail. They also engaged the community in learning about the diversity of plants found along the trail in a partnership event with Sustainable Stillwater they called, “What’s that Plant?”
And no trail is complete without benches and water fountains, both of which the group helped to fund and construct this past year. This group supports the trail in so many ways that many trail users may not even realize.