2019 Sustainable Trails Conference

Grand Junction CO // Core Conference, March 19-21, 2019

Conference Workshops //March 17-18 & March 21-23

PTBA's 2018 Sustainable Trails Conference brought together more than 300 professional trailbuilders, land managers, trail volunteers, and trail advocates for 3 days of education, networking, and trail exploration.  Trail industry exhibitors demonstrated and shared their products indoors and outdoors, and 81 participants joined optional PTBA workshops for in-depth and field-based learning.  

Pictures courtesy of Jérôme Pelland, Sentiers Boréals, and Aaryn Kay, PTBA. Check out more pictures on the PTBA Facebook Conference Photo Gallery

2019 Conference Proceedings


NOTE: Conference Sessions are summarized below.  An orange hyperlink indicates that the speaker has shared their presentation for publication on the PTBA website. 


Plenary Session: 8:15 – 8:45 am

 Welcome & State of the Trailbuilding Industry
Jon Underwood, Happy Trails, Inc, PTBA Member
This session will address the State of the Trailbuilding Industry in 2019 through a fun and graphic slideshow of trail projects across North America and around the world, submitted by PTBA members.

Concurrent Session A: 9:00–10:15 am

The Nature of Trail Aesthetics
Troy Scott Parker, Natureshape LLC, PTBA Member
Four concepts generate all trail aesthetics for better or worse. Learn how to use them to shape any type of trail for the better. Troy Scott Parker is the author of Natural Surface Trails by Design: Physical and Human Design Essentials of Sustainable, Enjoyable Trails.

Top 10 Trail Fails: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Scott Gordon, ContourLogic, PTBA Member
What are the common trail planning and management mistakes we see happen frequently. Learn how to spot these common pitfalls ... and more importantly how to avoid them.

Technology and Trails - Using Drones for Trail Planning in the North Fruita Desert (18 Road)
Jon Altschuld, Chinook Landscape Architecture, LLC
Chinook Landscape Architecture and Tony Boone Trails are currently developing the 18 Road Master Plan north of Fruita. The Master Plan is creating the long-term vision for the area, including a maintenance/sustainability plan, trail re-routes, new trails, seasonal closure recommendations, trail design prescriptions, and an events area for NICA, amateur and professional events. Our Team is using emerging and evolving technologies such as drones, photogrammetry, RTK GPS, and 3D GIS mapping to inventory and analyze the existing conditions, as well as to communicate design ideas and potential trail alignments. Come learn from Chinook's Jon Altschuld is a leading expert in emerging technologies on the use of visualization and drone technologies in design, planning, and construction industries.

Planning and Development of Sustainable Urban Bike Parks
Tim Babcock, Progressive Bike Ramps, PTBA Member
The "INs and OUT's" if Urban Bike Park Development. Topics include: What is an Urban Bike Park, the planning process, structuring bids and RFP’s to ensure qualified responses, sustainable design/build methods, Urban Bike Park maintenance, overcoming common objections to Urban Bike Parks through education, the return on investment (ROI) and the broad range of users in Urban Bike Parks, and making Urban Bike Parks a staple in our communities.

 Concurrent Session B: 10:45 am - 12:00 pm

GIS for trails
Emilie Young Vigneault, Sentiers Boréals, PTBA Member
GIS is a great underused tool in trail building. It can be used as a layout tool for future development projects or as a mapping tool for user and risk management teams. Participants will learn the strength and limitations of various GIS software and its uses for trails building, planning and management.

Sustainable Trails 101
Jon Underwood, Happy Trails, Inc, PTBA Member
What is a sustainable trail?  What are the physical attributes that make a trail sustainable or non-sustainable?  What do these things look like on the ground?  This class takes you through the basics of sustainable trail design and construction.

Connecting Communities: Integrating Transportation & Recreation Networks
Cindra Thompson, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
FHWA’s transportation programs can help create safe, accessible, attractive, and environmentally sensitive communities where people want to live, work, and recreate. FHWA funds benefit recreation including hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles. Join this session to learn about current FHWA tools and resources!

Partners in Trails:  Grand Valley (Panel Discussion)
Scott Winans - COPMOBA, President
John Howe - COPMOBA, Grand Junction Chapter Chair
Chris Pipkin - BLM, Grand Junction Field Office
Mike Bennett - City Manager, Fruita
The working relationships created within the Grand Valley power a singletrack trail movement that serves our local residents, cares for and utilizes our public lands resources, and provides a powerful and growing economic engine in our communities. Trails are the medium for this movement. Representatives from our trails non-profit COPMOBA, Bureau of Land Management, and the City of Fruita will share aspects of the growth, work, partnership, impacts, and results of these partnerships in a panel discussion format, with substantial time allocated for Q&A.

Lunch Plenary Session

The Future of Trailbuilding:  A Global Perspective
This panel discussion will highlight innovative projects around the world followed by a discussion what these global trends in trailbuilding mean for the future of the trailbuilding industry. 
Moderator: Tony Boone, Tony Boone Trails, PTBA Member
Scott Linnenburger, North America,
Kay-Linn Enterprises, PTBA Member
Jerome Pelland, Quebec, Canada,
Sentiers Boréals, PTBA Member
Gabe Travis,
AK firm presenting on South America, Interior Trails, PTBA Member
Tomáš Kvasnička, Czech Republic,
Singltrek s.r.o, PTBA Member,

Concurrent Session C: 1:30 – 2:45 pm

Mechanized Trail Equipment, what's new  ( what's in your Inventory)
Merdith C. Lockwood, Trails Unlimited LLC, PTBA Member
Trails Unlimited LLC has been helping agencies and manufactures develop new mechanized trail equipment for the past 40+ years.  Come and see what is the latest and discuss the pro-con's of each. 

Recreation Ecology:  Investigating Trail Degradation on the Appalachian Trail
Fletcher Meadema, Graduate Student, Virginia Tech
This session presents findings from National Park Service funded research on the Appalachian Trail.  We will explore the influence of trail layout on three forms of trail degradation: soil loss, widening, and muddiness.  Our analysis confirms the benefits of core sustainable trail design principles, specifically low trail grades and rolling side-hill alignments, across a large and ecologically diverse data set.     

Why Partner with Volunteer Stewardship Organizations and How to Do It
Anna Zawisza, Director of Community Relations & Strategic Partnerships; Dan Williams, Associate Director of Statewide Stewardship, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC)
ncluding volunteers as part of a well-planned and managed recreational trail project is increasingly viewed as providing numerous significant benefits.  These include: insuring long-term maintenance needs are met, increasing stakeholder engagement and community buy-in, local economic development, high priority for public land managers, and greater interest from trail funders.  Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) will talk about the myriad reasons to undertaking construction, maintenance and other trail work with trained volunteers and volunteer organizations. VOC will also share resources and tools available through VOC and other organizations to build develop your volunteer stewardship capacity.

 SEMINAR Session: 1:30 – 4:30 pm

Trail Contracting Preparation
Michael Shields, Michael D. Shields Consulting, PTBA Member
What makes a good versus flawed contract and what are the effects on both client and contractor.  An overview with particular emphasis on preparing functional as well as legal Specifications, General Provisions, and Bid Schedules.  We will discuss specific scenarios as part of the exercise and to spur the discussion.  Bring your own successes and/or failures to share.

 Concurrent Session D 3:15 – 4:30 pm

 Recreation Infrastructure for Climbing Areas
ulia Geisler & Lindsay Anderson, Salt Lake Climbers Alliance
The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance is the local rock climbing advocacy 501c3 non-profit that exists to be the voice for climbers in the Wasatch through stewardship, advocacy, community and education. We have led two successful climbing infrastructure projects and would like to share them as models for other areas. We willl discuss two successful climbing infrastructure projects – 1) one the largest climbing access trail network on Forest Service property in the nation - in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah called the Alpenbock Loop Trail systems and 2) one at LDS Church owned property known as the Gate Buttress. This talk would be an in depth look at what climbing infrastructure means from transportation, toilets, climbing trail systems and specific rock masonry skills, as well as vertical route (trail) maintenance.

Basic Soil Mechanics for Trail Builders
Alex Man, Scatliff+Miller+Murray
Soil types vary widely all over the world - and even on a single trail!  Understanding the physical characteristics of soil and having the ability to categorize soil is VERY important to successful trailbuilding.  This session will provide trailbuilders with applicable knowledge of soil including soil description, grain size distribution and its measurement, clay plasticity, and compaction curves and the importance of water.

Creating Success for the 80% : Techniques in trail design, construction, risk management and signage
Steven Ovitt, Wilderness Property Management Inc. / WPM Trails, PTBA Member
Techniques in trail design, construction, risk management and signage that create successful mtn. biking, hiking and backcountry & XC skiing experiences.
1. Understanding the recreational users who are the target for a specific trail.
2. Sustainable trail building techniques that create success, skill development and fun.
3. Utilizing a complexity analysis approach to risk management and recreational user success.
4. Signage that makes the 80% comfortable and successful.



Concurrent Session E: 8:30 – 9:45 am

Art of Conscious Communications
Dr. Audrey Nelson, Nelson Communications
There is a direct correlation between how you communicate and your overall success both at work and home! You cannot not communicate; everything you say or do sends a message. Today’s technology such as email, Twitter, and the Internet has made communication faster and more accessible. Telecommunication is a misnomer; we’ve lost the human moment. Additionally most of us operate on automatic in The first five seconds: There is no dress rehearsal for a first impression!  Additionally, our everyday face-to-face communication. This highly interactive program brings communication into consciousness and supplies tools to help you send the message you want. Audrey Nelson, PhD., is an international trainer, key-note speaker; author and consultant who helps organizations increase their productivity and profitability through winning communication strategies. Bolster your communication skills – with clients, partners, volunteers – with this session!

 Pumptrack 2.0 - Asphalt and Concrete Pumptracks
Jerome Pelland, Sentiers Boréals, PTBA Member
With the greater interest in asphalt and concrete pumptrack, this session present the basics of what makes a great pumptrack comes to life, then continue with case-study of asphalt pumptrack around the world. The presentation conclude with specific details to keep in mind when planning a pumptrack project.

Trails and the new CCC: Corps, Community, Collaboration
Cliff Kipp, Montana Conservation Corps, Northern Rockies; Jeff Roberts, Western Colorado Conservation Corps; Kevin Heiner, Southwest Conservation Corps
Conservation Corps are partnering with communities, land trusts, public agencies, nonprofits, and professional trail builders to create trails that connect communities, and connect youth to their communities. Come learn from three corps about innovative and cost-efficient partnerships that are pumping energy and funding into local trails projects - and in the process creating jobs and a next generation of trail stewards. Federal policies are incentivizing partnerships with conservation corps for trail development. Raise money, stretch it farther, and have more fun doing it with a new generation of trail builders.

 Seminar Session: 8:30 – 11:30 am

Field Contract Administration
Michael Shields, Michael D. Shields Consulting, PTBA Member
What causes contract performance to be a smooth versus nightmare experience for either the client, the contractor, or both.  An overview with particular emphasis on contract lines of authority, Pre-Bid actions, the Inspection process and problems, and Contract Closure.  Will include scenarios to spur the discussion, but bring your own successes and/or failures to share.

 Concurrent Session F: 10:15 – 11:30 am

 Dealing with Difficult People
Dr. Audrey Nelson, Nelson Communications
You may call them “inhuman resources.” They are difficult people. Dealing with them is a challenge and often leads to feelings of hopelessness and frustration. This presentation will identify tactics for disarming games and contentious tactics including manipulation, blame, sabotage and bullying will be emphasized. Audrey Nelson, PhD., is an international trainer, key-note speaker; author and consultant who helps organizations increase their productivity and profitability through winning communication strategies. Bolster your communication skills – with clients, partners, volunteers – with this session!

 What mountain bikers want to ride:  current social science research in mountain biker motivations, preferences, and identity.
Samuel Dobrozsi, Master's Student, Clemson University
Mountain bikers want more trails to ride.  What should be planned and built?  Cross-country trails?  Downhill runs?  Dirt jumps?  What’s an “all-mountain trail” and how do I build it?  What do those words mean, and how do mountain bikers actually experience them or decide where to ride?  This ongoing research by Clemson master’s student Samuel Dobrozsi gains insight into these questions through an exploratory mixed methods study, using in-depth interviews and survey research with mountain bikers around the country.

Managing Successful Hybrid Projects (Panel Discussion)
Ryan Spates, S & S Trails, PTBA Member, and Scott Gordon, ContourLogic, PTBA Member
Combining the efforts of volunteers, youth corps and/or agency crews with the expertise and "heavy lift" ability of contractors is commonly know as "Hybrid Contacting.” This session will examine the technical side of creating teaming agreements/contractual arrangements, as well as case studies with successful outcomes and lessons learned from less successful projects.

 Plenary Session & Lunch: 11:45 am– 1:00 pm
Outdoor Recreation, Economy and Community in Grand Junction
Introduction: Greg Mazu, Singletrack Trails, PTBA Member
Tangible and Intangible Benefits of Outdoor Recreation: Nathan Perry, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Economics & Tim Casey, PhD, Professor of Political Science at Colorado Mesa University.
Outdoor Recreation and Community: Jen Taylor

 Concurrent Session G: 1:15 – 2:30 pm
Women in Trailbuilding Forum (Panel Discussion)
Moderated by Dr. Audrey Nelson, Nelson Communications
Dawn Packard,
Blue Sky Trails LLC, PTBA Member, North Dakota
Christine Byl,
Interior Trails, PTBA Member,, Alaska
Meara McQuain, Headwaters Trails Alliance, Colorado
Emilie Young-Vigneault,
Sentiers Boréals, PTBA Member, Quebec
Join our expert moderator and panelists in this lively discussion on the “unique” challenges women confront in the world of Trailbuilding.

Safe and Effective Use of Preserved Wood in Trail Building
Butch Bernhardt, Sr. Program Manager, Western Wood Preservers Institute
Preservative-treated wood can ensure the durability of outdoor structures, including decks, gazebos, trail railings, fences and wood pedestrian bridges. In this presentation, participants will learn about the manufacturing process for pressure-treated wood, the preservatives used today, the available products and their differences, and how preserved wood is used in trail and outdoor projects. Topics include an overview of preservative treatments, desired service life and exposure conditions, AWPA Use Category standards, Best Management Practices for use in aquatic and sensitive areas and current issues concerning the safe use of preserved wood. Participants will also receive instructions for free downloading of the Treated Lumber Guide smartphone/tablet app.

Community Trails Accomplished Through Collaborative Partnership
Clifford Kipp, MT Conservation Corps; Greg Gunderson; President, Forestoration. Pete Costain; President, Terraflow Trail Systems; Heidi Van Everen, Whitefish Legacy Partners
The Flathead Valley of NW Montana is rapidly establishing itself as a haven for outdoor recreation. The burgeoning trail systems that entice visitors, and keep locals happy/healthy, exist thanks to ongoing dynamic public/private/non-profit collaborations. A non-profit trail organization, a trail designer, a trail builder and a conservation corps invite you to join us as we explore the effectiveness of collaboration, resourcefulness, and how a rising tide lifts all boats.

A shared vision and responsibility
Kacie Miller, Planning Manager, Colorado Parks and Wildlife & Brian Magee, SW Region Land Use Coordinator, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP 2019) reflects the shared vision and commitment of outdoor partners to advance recreation enjoyment and conservation of Colorado’s outdoor resources. We will discuss the planning process, results of an economic analysis of outdoor recreation, the 5-year priorities, Colorado’s/SHIFT Outdoor Principles, and ways to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts from trail development on wildlife resources. (two presentations) :
1. Recreation and Conservation
2. Wildlife & Trails


 Concurrent Session H: 8:30 – 9:45 am

 Building Coalitions Through Consensus: Mediation and Interest-Based Negotiation Skills for Community Trail Planning
Evan Pilling, Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists
Effective trail planning involves including community stakeholders in the entire planning process.  Often stakeholder concerns are not sufficiently understood or addressed, and relatively minor issues snowball and become major problems down the road.  Inclusion of all trail user groups, community members, environmental advocates, and government officials promotes long-term sustainability of trail projects and yields trails that benefit the entire community.  Join Evan Pilling, Executive Director for Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists in Tucson, AZ, for a skills-based presentation that outlines the principles and practices of mediation and interest-based negotiation and how they can be applied to work with stakeholders, address concerns and disagreements, and develop long-term consensus.  Evan Pilling is a trained mediator, holds a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology, and prior to his career as an Executive Director and trail builder worked for 15 years in social services and child welfare.

Bridges 101
Charlie Dundas, Tri-State Company, PTBA Member
Introduction to the basic types of trail and pedestrian bridges by Tri-State Company, Inc. Includes discussion of the basic considerations of bridge design. Discussion of site selection, the "physics of bridge functioning", dead load, live load, and moment of load. The presentation includes photos, drawings, and animations.

Clino Over Ego: Ten Observations On Creating Trails & Trail Destinations
Tony Boone, Tony Boone Trails, Inc. PTBA Member
The hazards and pitfalls of creating trails with ego instead of sound, sustainable Best Management Principles including the most important lessons/observations that Tony has learned over the past three decades working with multi-national trail crews and unique trail destinations around the world.  

Concurrent Session I: 10:15 – 11:30 am
Tools for Trails
Jerome Pelland, Sentiers Boréals, PTBA Member
A review of various tools and products available to optimize trail planning, construction and maintenance. Pros and cons of various products will be presented by a leading contractor and invited professionals.  

High Community Impact Trail Systems: Successful And Innovative Approaches To Rapidly Creating A Trail-Rich Community
Scott Linnenburger, Kay-Linn Enterprises, PTBA Member
Most of our common examples for healthy, happy, trail-focused communities developed organically over fifteen to twenty years and depend on access to hundreds of thousands of acres of public land- conditions that simply aren’t viable for many communities. Many communities across the country have made up for lost time or lack of abundant land in innovative ways- from creating unwitting or unusual community influencers, to tapping into alternative funding sources and even private investment. By not following the rules of the past, these communities are proving that “going big” by being strategic is their charted course for a successful trails future. Scott Linnenburger, Principal of Kay-Linn Enterprises (PTBA Member Company), has been involved with many of these projects over the last 15 years, learning to recognize and facilitate the key elements of successful, rapidly developed trails communities. He will present numerous examples and engage the group in an active discussion around these high-impact trail developments.

Lesson Learned from Designing and Constructing the High Rockies Trail
Matt Hadley, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd, presented by Alex Man, Brady Starr and Jeff Cooke.
We will present a case study of constructing High Rockies Trail, an 80Km shared use trail. The session will highlight the design process and learnings from all stages.  Points of discussion will be how to maximize layout efficiency using apps and LiDAR along with ground truthing. The tendering package and process to ensure a quality trail builder is hired and ways to reduce construction management time.

Bridges 103
Charlie Dundas, Tri-State Company, PTBA Member
Case studies of the construction of four differing trail bridge designs, detailing the the thought behind the selection of the type of bridge, the process, material, and critical path of construction. Also included are display of the elements of construction control used by Tri-State Company, Inc. [Nikon Total Station EDM, Trimble Recon Construction Computer, and Nikon Auto level as well as older style of transit levels and measuring tools]. This presentation will focus on the following types of bridges: Cable suspension, glu-lam beam, prefabricated steel, and curvilinear screw-lam bridges.


Thanks to conference sponsors & partners!

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