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Our Community & Coronavirus

Posted by Loren D at Mar 13, 2020 08:08 PM |

How we're working to keep our community safe. Updates on cancelled and rescheduled trail work parties and workshops. We are here for you: how we hope to be a source for moments of joy and inspiration.

We will occasionally update this blog with the latest information on our programs and cancellations as circumstances change. (Updated 3.26.20.)

By Jill Simmons, Chief Executive Officer

Mount Rainier from Tolmie Peak by Sherry Mezger.jpg
We hope that can be a place to find moments of joy and inspiration. Photo by Sherry Metzger

Washington Trails Association is not just a nonprofit organization — we are a community made of real people: staff, volunteers, partners and, of course, hikers. Washington is a state of hikers, and hikers take care of each other. The spirit of stewardship we see every single day in our work for public lands is exactly the kind of spirit that gives us hope as we face this moment and the challenge of coronavirus together.

This public-health crisis will affect our entire community, but we know some people are already experiencing impacts from the virus. Our hearts are with you.

We want to do our part to keep all of you safe. Safety is a cornerstone of much of our work — from trail work parties to hiker education and introducing young people to the outdoors.

Here are some of the things we are currently doing to keep our community safe:

  • We have paused all trail maintenance programming — day work parties, volunteer vacations, backcountry response teams and trainings — statewide through April. We are working to reschedule impacted volunteer vacations, BCRTs and trainings, and will notify those crews when we have established dates.
  • We have cancelled all upcoming Outdoor Leadership Training workshops and closed our Seattle Gear Library through April 30.
  • To support our staff, we are working remotely and building in flexibility and additional resources for our staff to work from home and care for our families.
  • We’re encouraging our community to be a welcoming space for everyone, and especially to help mitigate bias and stigma being experienced by our East Asian and Pacific Islander community members.

Even with program disruptions, we are trying, as much as possible, to continue our work for trails and public lands. While we might be keeping the recommended social distance, we’re still able to come together in digital spaces to speak up for trails and to help one another explore the outdoors.  

Over the long-term, we know the effects of coronavirus will impact our work. But the most important thing is to protect the well-being of our community. We know the WTA community will come together for trails in Washington. The support of our members and hiking community during this difficult time is crucial. You inspire and power our work. Thank you.  

WTA and nature: here for you

Finally, we want you to know that we are here for you. From balcony birdwatching to taking a walk on a neighborhood trail, we know how critical the natural world is to mental and physical health.

During those times that you are stuck inside, we hope that can be a place to find moments of joy and inspiration. If you feel lonely or yearn for trails you can’t reach, we hope you can find community in past trip reports or in talking to each other and to us on our social channels. And if you are looking for a green space out your front door, WTA and our hiking guide are here for you. You can even help us and each other by telling us about new green spaces near you in a trip report, or taking a trash bag with you and leaving your neighborhood looking better for your neighbors.

If you go hiking, please take into account the latest recommendations of public health officials like Seattle & King County Public Health and the Washington State Department of Health. Keep in mind that agencies and first responders across the state have their hands full, so avoid taking unnecessary risks, respect closures on public lands and leave trails better than you found them.

Together, we’ll keep taking care of each other and trails so that they will be here for us all when we emerge from this community crisis.