Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Well-deserved thanks

On February 11, the National Park Service, Alaska Regional Office proudly presented Janice Tower with a Volunteer-in-Parks Award for her 532 plus hours of volunteer time dedicated to a NPS Partnership project—the Hillside Singletrack Trails.

As Singletrack Advocates members all know, Janice is a dedicated community activist. When she sees a local opportunity, she grabs the chance to figure out how to make it happen. Janice started, and still runs, Mighty Bikes, a program that engages more than 120 youths in Anchorage to develop mountain biking skills and learn to ride safely throughout each summer. When Anchorage narrow trails were disappearing because of trail improvements for Nordic skiing, she helped to start and manage Singletrack Advocates. Getting a group of independent mountain bikers to come together for a common vision is no small task. Singletrack Advocates became active in the monthly Friends of Far North Bicentennial Park meetings and obtained a seat on the Far North Trail Advisory Committee. In the beginning, STA's sole purpose was advocacy, to protect singletrack trails.

In 2004, the National Park Service-Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program invited the International Mountain Biking Association to host a Trail Care Crew visit in Anchorage. With sponsorship from Alaska Trails and Singletrack Advocates, the Anchorage mountain biking community obtained knowledge about sustainable trail design standards. STA was sure that singletrack trails had to be built by hand, and spent an entire summer hand digging one mile of new trail in Far North. The Brown Bear Trail is their pride and joy. But after that experience, STA knew there was a reason to consider mini-mechanized equipment.

In 2007, applied to the NPS-RTCA program for technical assistance. STA then moved from Trail Advocates to Trail Builders. Walking through the complex maze of required permits, public meetings, planning processes, fund raising and trail contracting has had its challenging moments. Janice spent more than 532 hours of volunteer time to bring Anchorage its first 7.5 miles of sustainably designed singletrack mountain-biking trails. To do so, she raised more than $300,000. Janice continues to work toward an additional 4 to 5 miles of trail in the Anchorage bowl.

On February 11, 2009, Sue Masica, NPS Alaska Regional Director presented Janice with her Volunteer-in-Parks Award Certificate, a volunteer T-Shirt, an America the Beautiful Pass (so she can access National Parks around the country on her amazing bike trips), and a REI gift certificate. The NPS Alaska Regional Office staff were on hand to give Janice a huge round of applause and thanks for being such a great Partner on a National Park Service Partnership project. NPS also extends its gratitude to all the STA members that have spent endless hours helping to build sustainable mountain biking trails in Anchorage.

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