To the editor: In response to “Trail enthusiasts hold parade in support of workforce development program,” Alaska has been presented with a brief window of opportunity to take advantage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to invest in trail infrastructure that will provide long lasting recreational opportunities to enhance the state’s tourism sector while creating jobs and training workers.
The Trails Build Alaska, a statewide coalition of outdoor groups, initiative is poised to seize this opportunity with a proven framework and shovel-ready projects if Gov. Dunleavy and the Alaska Legislature would support the proposal. Trails Build Alaska proposes $12 million of the $1 billion dollars of ARPA funding be used for a statewide trails workforce development program to put Alaskans immediately back to work and create sustainable recreational opportunities to enhance the state’s tourist destinations. Alaska’s federal senators have recently sponsored a bill supporting trail infrastructure, demonstrating they value the opportunities a comprehensive trail system provides.
During my career as a National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service engineer, I have witnessed firsthand the economic impact to a community when there are recreational opportunities in the area. Alaska’s future depends on diverse economic opportunities as oil production decreases. Trails are pathways to economic opportunity for workers, small businesses, and communities. This program will directly support local economies through worker paychecks and purchases of materials and services from community businesses.
Alaska’s federal senators have recently sponsored a bill supporting trail infrastructure at the national level, demonstrating they value the opportunities a comprehensive trail system provides. I hope their state counterparts will demonstrate the same, by supporting Trails Build Alaska.