Upcoming Event!

 

What: Presentation on the Great Plains Trail by GPTA founder Steve Myers

Where: Longmont Public Library – 409 4th Ave, Longmont, CO 80501

When: Thursday, March 14th at 7:00 pm

 

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Camping on the GPT

Here’s a newsletter article from board member Drew Smith:

Camping on the GPT

The GPT differs from other long trails in that most of the land it traverses is
private, not public. For purposes of finding a continuous walkable route from
Texas to Canada, this is not as big a barrier as you might guess. There are
two reasons: there are lots of roads, and hardly anyone lives there.
In Nebraska, and most other states, any road that has been historically been used by the public is considered a public road, even if it was never officially bought, designated, condemned or even maintained by the state or county. So long as there is not a gate across a road, it probably is a public road, and thus OK to hike, bike, ride or drive on.

Of course, as any experienced long distance hiker will tell you, walking on
roads is no fun. They tend to be hot, dusty, and hard on your feet. Jumping out
of the way for cars, or walking in a weedy ditch to avoid them does not make for a
great hiking experience. But in low-population areas like western Nebraska, walking the back roads is actually not too bad. I spent a day last May scouting for GPTA on roads near Scottsbluff that were almost completely deserted. Over the course of a day I saw
exactly 3 cars. For all intents and purposes, this road was essentially a 2-
track trail through the short grass prairie. So walking it would be no problem.
Water wouldn’t be too much of a problem either—there are windmill-fed cattle
tanks every 10-15 miles on the eastern route.

It’s camping that is the issue. There is a wonderful municipal campground in
Scottsbluff, a good one at Lake Minitare SRA, and then nothing until Fort Robinson SP. Agate Fossil Beds NM doesn’t allow camping. So hikers in this section are faced
with a 70-mile stretch of classic and mostly wild short grass prairie in which
there are no legal camping options. Car support or stealth camping (the latter of which the
GPTA does not condone) are the only possibilities. Ideally, we would get landowner
permission to camp along the way. Figuring out the right way to do this will
be one of our goals and challenges for 2019 (and many years thereafter). Of
course, we don’t have to start from scratch. Other long-trail organizations,
such as the Continental Divide Trail Coalition should be a good source for
advice and best practices. But a lot of this process is just common sense: reaching
out to local communities, enlisting other trail users (such as mountain bikers and
trail riders) as allies, being respectful and responsive to landowner concerns.
Learning how to engage landowners effectively will be one of our goals as the
GPTA grows in 2019 and future years. We welcome input from our donors and
members, and look forward to your advice and support as we open up more
sections of the trail this year.

-Drew Smith

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Partners on the GPT

 

In the continuing series of posts from our recent newsletter, here is board member Luke (Strider) Jordan on how to maintain the long term health of the GPT:

Building Partnerships

The Great Plains Trail is new on the stage of long-distance trails. 2018
brought a lot of successes and progress to the overall development of the trail and
GPTA hopes to build on that progress. As the Board of Directors looks ahead at
bringing the trail to the forefront of people’s minds and what the long-term
goals will be, a new phase of planning will need to be adopted to reach those goals.
That strategy will revolve around forming long-lasting partnerships.
Partnerships and cooperation are keystones to the development of long-distance trails. Trails cross a variety of land ownerships including private lands
and it is important to develop partnerships that respect property rights
and the missions of land managers. Some of the longer-standing trails such
as the Appalachian Trail have an advantage in the way their organizational
structure is set up. For example, a big difference between the AT and some of
the newer and lesser known trails is that the trail is federally managed, but also
that either the federal agency or the official partner organization owns a
majority of the land through which the trail passes. For other trails, that is often
not the case and they rely more heavily on partnerships to ensure establishment
and long-term protection of the trail. All trails rely on partnerships to some
degree. In some places, state governments have taken the lead in
planning trail corridors and providing funding opportunities. In other places, a
kind of certification process is used where the trail organization or
administering agency signs a voluntary agreement with whoever owns or
manages the land to ensure protection of the trail. The advantage to using
agreements is that private landowners and local governments can take a more
active role in the overall effort, as well as retain all property rights. Where private
lands are involved, nonprofits and land trusts in many cases have obtained
easements on those lands, simply allowing the trail to pass through without
disrupting the current managed use of a particular property.

Volunteerism

To achieve this goal of providing trail access, GPTA will need to form strong
long-lasting partnerships with land managers and other groups that can
support and share in GPTA’s mission. This will include the various public land
managers through which the trail passes including federal and state agencies, as
well as various types of non-profit and private groups. GPTA will need to form
these relationships from the ground up, and do our part to maintain those
relationships. Some early successes have already occurred in recent years in
working with both public land managers and other trail groups. A big highlight was
working with the US Forest Service to establish a new official segment of trail,
the first ever, and host a grand-opening event on National Public Lands Day. The
event was well-attended and gave an introduction on partnerships and the truly
magical things that can happen if like-minded people communicate, get
together and work towards a common goal. Further successes came in the form
of co-hosting a guided hike on a future segment of the trail, as well as providing
several opportunities for the public to attend informative presentations about
the GPT. A lot of this work on other trails is done by volunteers who have the local
knowledge to contact landowners and can provide input to the decisions made
by the staff or board of directors of the primary trail organization. GPTA has already received inquiries from enthusiastic people willing to spend
some time helping to reach our goals locally. While there currently isn’t any
form of an official volunteer program set up at this time, GPTA can still aim to
provide opportunities for you to get involved with GPT projects, including
things like outreach, trail maintenance and signage. Overtime, the hope is these
early volunteer opportunities can lead to eventually building a larger network of
volunteers in the communities through which the trail passes. In the end, the
volunteers working alongside the Board of Directors will be the heart and soul of
the GPT, and will be the ones looking after its preservation and longevity for enjoyment by future generations.

Luke (Strider) Jordan

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How to Help the GPTA

I’ll be posting some articles from our most recent newsletter to start off in 2019. Here’s is an article from GPTA board member Kevin Purdy:

Board member Kevin Purdy on the Great Plains Trail

5 Ways to Help the Great Plains Trail

The Great Plains Trail needs your help in turning an incredible dream into an amazing
reality. We have already taken the first important steps in getting our legacy project
up and running. Now we could use some assistance from you. Here are the top five
ways that you can help the Great Plains Trail become the next great American long distance trail:

1. Donate – The Great Plains Trail Alliance is a non-profit organization. We
cannot build the Great Plains Trail without the help of generous donors. Of
course, every little bit helps, so donations of all sizes are welcome. It’s
easy to donate by just visiting the Great Plains Trail Alliance at
GreatPlainsTrail.org and clicking on the “Donate” button.

2. Spread the Word Online – The Great Plains Trail can be found at the Great
Plains Trail website/blog, on Twitter (@grtplainstrail), on Facebook (Great
Plains Trail Alliance) and on our Great Plains Trail blog
(greatplainstrail.wordpress.com). We greatly appreciate it when you follow us
on our various social media accounts as well as re-post, retweet, like and
make helpful comments/replies. Feel free to mention Great Plains Trail to
your online friends and invite them to join our network of trail fans. Also, be
sure to leave comments on the Great Plains Trail blog. And finally, we are
also on WhiteBlaze.net. You can find us by visiting the WhiteBlaze website then visiting Forums>Other Long Trails>Great Plains Trail.

3. Spread the Word in Person – Both long distance trail fans and Great Plains fans
have something in common. They are friendly folks who enjoy discussing
common interests. So, the next time you gather with a friend or group of
friends, don’t hesitate to tell them about the Great Plains Trail. Remember, we
are one of the only long-distance trails that is amenable to hikers, bicyclists
and equestrians. And we want all of our future trail users to spread the word
among their various groups of friends. Here’s your conversation starter: “So,
what do you think of the Great Plains Trail?” Take it from there and have fun.

4. Volunteer – We could use some help in certain specific areas including map making, fund raising, and trail locating. We would especially love to have
volunteers with expertise in such areas as right-of-way acquisition,
membership drives, website development, social media
coordination and crowdfunding/fundraising. Please contact us
on the GPTA website if you’d like to help. If you know of anyone who has
these skills, please ask them to check out the Great Plains Trail website.

5. Sign up for Amazon Smile – One easy and painless way to donate to the Great
Plains Trail Alliance is by designating GPTA as your Amazon Smile charity of
choice. It’s easy and doesn’t cost you a penny. Once you have designated the
Great Plains Trail Alliance as your Amazon Smile charity of choice, a small
percentage of each Amazon purchase goes toward the Great Plains Trail.
Here’s how to sign up for Amazon Smile:

a. Visit smile.amazon.com

b. Sign in with your Amazon.com
credentials

c. Choose a charitable organization to
receive donations, or search for charity of your choice.

d. Select your charity

e. Start shopping!

f. Add a bookmark for smile.amazon.com to make it even
easier to return and start your shopping
at AmazonSmile

Any help you can provide for the Great Plains Trail is greatly appreciated. Please consider
contributing to this great cause and become an integral part of this amazing new long distance trail through America’s heartland. Thank you!

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GPT Photo of the Week

The North Dakota prairie potholes in spring from an observation tower in Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge – near the northern terminus of the GPT.

Photo: Luke Jordan

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GPT Photo of the Week

Some of the strange formations at Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Colorado.

Photo: Luke Jordan

 

 

 

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GPT Photo of the Week

From the top of Black Elk Peak, South Dakota.

Photo: Luke Jordan

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