Become a Contractor Member
Who We Are
The Professional Trailbuilders Association (PTBA) is non-profit trade association serving private trail related companies as well as professionals throughout the trail industry. All of PTBA’s activities support quality trail contracting, development and maintenance for all types of trails in all types of locations.
The Professional Trailbuilders' Association brings great trails to life; we advance the trails industry through professional design, construction, advocacy, and education.
The Professional Trailbuilders' Association represents the leading edge in sustainable trail development; we believe in trail design, construction, management and advocacy that enhance resource protection, recreational opportunities, economic development, active citizens, and connected communities worldwide.
The Deadline for applying for PTBA Membership is February 1 each calendar year. In 2019, the deadline was extended to February 8.
Specific New Member Criteria
Applicant Companies (hereafter named “applicant”) must comply with all specific new member criteria in order to be considered for membership. As befits a professional trade organization, significant importance will be given to demonstrated experience/ability, as well as to adherence to trail industry recognized best management practices. New member companies are expected to not only be skilled with trails, but also to comport themselves and run their companies as fair, honest, and ethical contractors and businesspeople.
Form of Business
The applicant must demonstrate that they are the owner or legal representative of a for profit entity which is generating income from work in the trail industry.
A significant amount of the applicant's work in that business must be in trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, or industry related business activities (i.e. education and training, general consulting, planning and design related to trails, GIS work related to trails and/or bike parks).
Any form of business is acceptable, but it must be legally created and registered in the state (or states) in which they base their operation.
The applicant must demonstrate, through its Industry references and PTBA sponsor that it operates honestly, ethically, and seeks to avoid conflicts of interest in their business dealings.
Applicants must have a demonstrated history of fair dealing and integrity in the trail industry.
In order to proactively prevent a potential conflict of interest, no owner, partner or shareholder in an applicant business may concurrently be a government employee with an agency which is involved in trail management. (See bylaws for complete details.)
The applicant must demonstrate competence in the basics of the trail specialties in which the company is working. In particular, the applicant must possess not only a working knowledge, but have shown the ability to translate that knowledge into finished projects.
The applicant must have a demonstrated ability to bid and manage contracts, and to satisfactorily complete projects. A minimum of 3 contracts as a lead contractor or 5 contracts as a sub-contractor (preferred to sub contract to another PTBA member) is required.
The applicant business must have been formed and active for at least one year prior to the date of application.
The applicant must have had three years of professional trail experience before being considered for full membership. Prior work with another trail contractor or land managing agency responsible for managing trails will be considered.
Along with the application form each applicant must provide a minimum of three (3) reference letters from current or previous clients or those very familiar with the applicants work.
Each new member applicant must be sponsored by an existing PTBA Contractor Member. The sponsor must have been a PTBA Contractor Member in good standing for at least two years prior to the date of application.
The sponsor must be familiar with the work of the applicant. Specifically, the sponsor should have actually seen and reviewed the applicant's work in its final form. Ideally, the sponsor will also have seen at least one of the applicant's projects while in progress, in order to observe the applicant's expertise and professionalism while on the job. Preferably, the sponsor will also have worked directly with the applicant on at least one project.
The applicant is encouraged to apply, with a PTBA Member Contractor sponsor, who works in a related trail expertise. For example, a business that is focused on GIS technology and its application within the Industry, is encouraged to seek a PTBA Member Contractor which has similar professional experience in the Industry.
Attendance at the PTBA Sustainable Trails Conference is recommended, but no longer required. Joining a PTBA conference prior to applying is a great way to gain an understanding of the organization and to connect with current PTBA member companies. Please indicate if you have attended the PTBA conference or other similar conferences like the International Trails Symposium.
New Member Applicant Review
New member applicants will be reviewed at the annual Member Meeting. The new member applicant will have the opportunity to present to the Membership prior to review. The sponsor will have the opportunity to share their reasons for sponsoring this new member applicant. The presentation shall consist of the following:
Types of trail related services offered (construction, planning/design, GIS etc.)
Experience and past projects (please include info on 3 trail projects)
Experience of company principles and key staff
Presentations of all applicants must be created in a format that will be posted online (websites, photos, power points, videos, etc.) for review of PTBA Member Contractors prior to the annual meeting.
The representative of the applicant company presenting at the PTBA Business meeting is considered the “qualifier” for the applicant. Should that person (persons) leave the applicant company after acceptance into PTBA membership, that membership is considered “pending” and needs renewal at the next PTBA membership meeting by a new “qualifier”.
A vote of the Full PTBA Member Contractors in attendance, including their proxies, on each prospective member candidate will be taken during the annual meeting. The applicant will be notified of the outcome of that vote immediately after the meeting by their sponsor.
Not all applicants are accepted. If an application is not accepted at the annual meeting, the sponsor will explain and document the reasons as expressed by the Full PTBA Member Contractors present.
Prospective members, whose initial applications are not accepted, may then reapply at a future annual meeting.
* If you do not have a sponsor, find a current member in your area by checking out the Find a Member page. If there is not a PTBA member close to you whom is eligible to sponsor your membership application, consider paying the travel expenses for that member to travel to your area of work to inspect and get familiar with your work.
Annual member dues are due on January 31 of each year. Invoices will be sent out in November of the previous year so that you may choose which calendar year you would like to make the payments. Current member dues are:
$325 per year
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would a current member sponsor my company if I am likely to compete directly with that company in the future?
Every contractor member in the association has been nominated and sponsored by another member, whom it is very likely that they have bid against and lost to in the past, and will again in the future. The PTBA is all about promoting free, fair and open bidding of all trail projects. Every member realizes that they compete against other members of the PTBA. However, every member also realizes that the industry is strengthened by this process, and all members benefit from the promotion of this system. Without it, our members would be bidding against road construction crews and "Bubba with a Bobcat" in an unfair and uncompetitive contracting environment. There is also a great opportunity in the future for members to team up on projects and utilize the varied expertise that each member brings to the table.
Am I required to have attended a PTBA conference previous to my application for membership?
It is not an absolute requirement, but it is highly encouraged, and will be significantly taken into account in your application review by our membership. Conferences and Member Meetings are an excellent opportunity for the new applicant to see who PTBA's members are, how PTBA operates, and it gives current PTBA members a chance to meet the new applicant.
What if I can not find a current contractor member to sponsor my company?
Attend a PTBA conference and/or member meeting. There is no better way to get to know our current membership, and to get your story out, than to network with them at the event. Plus, there are some great learning opportunities that even the most experienced trail builder can learn from. You can also look at our list of current members for members in your area to reach out to.
There is currently no industry certification of quality for professional trail builders, as there is with other professional associations. Being associated with the PTBA has therefore become the symbol of credibility in our industry. Founded in 1974, the PTBA has earned respect from and a good reputation with federal land management agencies, state and local agencies, non-profits and private organizations. Agencies of all types see PTBA membership as a positive mark of professionalism. More and more we are seeing the requirement that winning bids must be associated with PTBA or have had training through the PTBA.
PTBA has become the voice of the trail building industry. We have acted as a public agency watchdog to ensure fair contracting processes, and ensuring that private contractors can remain competitive in winning bids against FS enterprise groups and conservation corps agencies. The PTBA also helps shape government policies affecting trail contractors. For instance, the Forest Specifications for Construction of Trails (EM-7720-103 & EM-7720-104) upgrade the old version using diagrams and text from the experiences of PTBA members.
30% discount on all PTBA Conferences and Workshops
Any employee of your company may attend any PTBA sponsored conference or workshop and receive a 30% discount off of all registration fees and/or exhibitor fees. If you have employees that are also Trail Professional Affiliates, this discount may be combined with your Member Company discount to give a total discount of 45%.
Of course, the best benefit for many members is just being part of a group of like-minded people who freely share their experiences. New members learn how to properly price and bid projects, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Members discuss what tools and equipment have been found to be the best and most cost-effective. They freely share experiences about different clients and agencies, get the inside track on lots of information, and just have fun. For many trail builders, there's no other venue for this.
Access to Experts & Resources
Your fellow PTBA members range from single-person companies to large trail construction outfits. Their skills run the gamut from design to design-build to build-to-spec, from designing and/or building the simplest trails and trail structures to paved trails, large bridges, boardwalks, and even campgrounds. Their backgrounds run from ex-USFS to forestry to soils to general building contractor to software engineer to ballroom dance instructor, making them a rich source of diverse experiences and a lot of talent. Our free-flowing email and communications encourage networking among members-even when those members are competing for the same jobs. Learning from other companies' projects and working styles are one of membership's most significant benefits.
Elevating Industry Standards
A major push of the Board in recent years has been the development of the PTBA Code of Ethics and the start of a PTBA certification program. Our first successful attempt at developing recognized certifications was Chainsaw Safety Certification, based on the USFS curriculum for chainsaw safety.
The PTBA website has become a primary resource for a multitude of agencies and organizations seeking qualified trail contractors to bid on trail projects. In fact, many of the projects that have recently come through are requiring PTBA membership or training in order to bid on a project. We are also finding that lots of good contracts are shared amongst members, leading to work for many members, and lots of collaborative projects.
We have close relationships with many non-profit trails advocacy organizations, including the National Trails Training Partnership, American Trails, The Corps Network, the Coalition for Recreation Trails, and IMBA. We also are members of a cooperative MOU with all of the federal land management agencies. Many of our individual members have close relationships with a wide variety of State and Local Agencies as well. So when you need support in working with or information about certain agencies, odds are there are some great resources within the PTBA ranks to help you out.
Many of our favorite vendors come to our semi-annual Sustainable Trails Conference, and are happy to forward excellent discounts to our members. Members have the opportunity to demo new equipment and talk directly to manufacturers about needed improvements on their equipment.
Aid Members in Promotion of the Trail Building Industry
The PTBA Board recently approved the policy of reimbursing members for a portion of their costs for attending and presenting at conferences where they promote the PTBA.