Two years since its inception TREAD continues carving a path and revolutionizing trail creation and protection in the state of Washington.
“There isn’t a group like this in the state,” said Mat Lyons, executive director of the group, whose full name is Trail Recreation Education Advocacy and Development.
TREAD unifies varied points of view under one umbrella. Municipalities, government agencies, land managers, land owners, hikers, bikers, cyclists, equestrians, skiers, there’s room for everybody.
“If you are out(doors), we are about it,” Lyons said, adding that TREAD defines trails as, “dirt, pavement, water, snow: If you can recreate on it, it’s a trail.”
Each group of enthusiasts may be organized on its own, Lyons said, but a group like TREAD can bring them all together under a common purpose and help them compromise, coordinate and achieve.
“There is no agenda other than ‘let’s be efficient, let’s collaborate, let’s have a bigger picture in mind, so it’s not just about one trail or one thing,’” Lyons said.
The group is just getting started, he said. Earning nonprofit status and getting bylaws and a board in place took about a year. The Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce served as the launching pad for TREAD, utilizing the WVCC’s nonprofit status and signing a memorandum of understanding to manage their finances until TREAD could stand on its own.
“We were very intentional about getting people that had a commonsense approach to recreation,” Lyons said of the board. “They weren’t pounding their fists on the table, saying ‘I am an equestrian, I only deal with horses.’” The group also sought to have a board of directors that represented the community in ages, abilities and voices, so everybody felt represented: Educators, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, etc.
Getting stakeholders to leave their ‘weapons’ at the door has been key for the success of TREAD. Instead of everybody advocating for their own interest, the group encourages people to work together.
“You see people take off their mountain-biking ‘hat’,” said Pat Norlin, sports tourism and outdoor recreation coordinator for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, “and become just an outdoor enthusiast.”
The change of mentality didn’t happen overnight, Lyons said.
“Before, everybody was so siloed, so isolated,” Lyons said. “What everybody doesn’t realize is, there’s only so many assets, there’s only so much region for everybody to participate in. And we all have to deal with the same forest service, the same land managers, BLM, DNR, Land Trust, city, county, whatever. They are the same, doesn’t matter if you ride a horse or run, ride a bike or ski. You want to participate in our land that they manage, you have to do it right.”
So far, TREAD is doing it right, and they have big plans for the future, seeking to create access to trails all around the Wenatchee Valley, with the collaboration of private landowners, public landowners and a land trust.
“There’s nothing this comprehensive in Washington state,” Lyons said, describing TREAD’s vision as “How do we enhance what we have while protecting it? If we don’t do anything, people will still come and use it. And abuse it and trash it and leave. How can we build something that when they come, they protect it?”
Another step toward the future is TREADMap, an app and a website that will go across all devices, shows how to use and protect the group’s assets. The app is still in its beta stages. Stay tuned to the WVCC blog at www.wenatchee.org for the official roll out of the app.