When we began working with public land managers, particularly the Forest Service, we were just one of the many user groups that had an interest in how the forest was managed. In those early days, COTA had an opportunity to be more involved and have a voice through the Trail User Group (TUG) Meetings. After attending many meetings and showing our support for mountain biking, we were encouraged by the Forest Service to “adopt” those trails under a formal agreement with the USFS.
At first the adoption program was managed within the Forest Service office by a volunteer coordinator, but due to the sheer number of trails and corresponding number of Adopters, this task became overwhelming and COTA agreed to take on the formal adoption of the entire trail network. Hence, our Adopt-A-Trail Program began with the goal of sharing the load among many volunteers. With guidance from the COTA Board of Directors, Trail Adopters agree to steward entire trails or sections of trail using the COTA trail standards.
COTA also has a Trail Crew Leader Program where we train committed Crew Leaders how to build and maintain trails in accordance with the COTA Trail Standards, a document that we prepared with the USFS to ensure that trails are built to specifications that are most appropriately suited to our region. Trail Crew Leaders are provided with various training opportunities such as Wilderness First Aid, Chainsaw Certification and other workshops to educate Leaders about proper construction of drainage, rock work and more. Many COTA members have participated in the Professional Trail Builders Association, USFS, and the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) trainings to improve their skills and experience.