The Case Statement of the National Coast Trail Association
The National Coast Trail:
     A connected land and water trail system around the borders of the entire United States with opportunities to discover and experience its scenic, historic and cultural environments.

Keeping "The Coast" For Everyone through recreational trails, public access, and the preservation of natural and historic environments.

Trail Development, Education & Conservation to create, maintain and protect a national coastal trail system and preserve both natural and historic environments.

Need, Values and Issues  "This is where we come in and why we exist!"

  • People love to both visit the ocean and to experience the coast!  It's clear there exists an important need for both public access and recreation in this unique environment.
  • Society not only values the natural environment but also recognizes its value in itself.  It's obvious the conservation, preservation and restoration of the coastal environment has become important.
  • Development pressure in general, the increasing demand for and purchase of land and the high price of coastal property means either links or access to coastal areas for recreation could be lost forever!  Development threats can also mean the very destruction of either unique natural habitat or special places of cultural or historic value.
  • Funding is generally limited at both state and federal levels to provide for the needs and values of society.  Indeed, it has either become less available or non-existent and fails to meet both the needs of recreation and public access and to achieve the values associated with the conservation, preservation and restoration of natural, cultural and historical environments.

The need for both recreation and public access, the value of the environment, and the issues of both ongoing development and limited funding gives us the opportunity to say, "This is why we exist."

What We Do!

"This program is the tool we use in building The Dream!"

     The National Coast Trail Association was created to develop a trail - the National Coast Trail - which would loop around the entire United States, educate people about it and protect the environment.  In essence, this is our mission and our vision is the existence of the National Coast Trail itself!  We carry out our mission and address the needs of both recreation and public access, the value of environmental protection and the issues of both development pressure and limited governmental funding through our program of "what and how we do" as follows:

  • Action through Trail Development
We work with others to make the trail a reality in many ways.  Research in both the library and the field.  Communication of this information to those people or groups who have the resources and ability to put proposals into action.  Coordination and organizing of volunteers with other individuals, groups and government agencies to actually build and maintain portions of the trail.
  • Awareness through Education
We help people to learn about the trail and our work through public outreach at the grassroots level.  This also allows us to ask people for their support as both members and volunteers.  We provide information about the trail and other available resources related to it.  We plan to increase awareness and the promotion of the trail through publications, conferences, meetings, and other effective ways.
  • Accomplishment of Conservation
We preserve the coastal environment by establishing the trail itself.  Protection of the trail corridor means the preservation of the natural environment through which it travels and essentially establishes a coastal greenway!  We also plan to actively participate in the work of both conservation to prevent and restoration to repair ecological damage.

Who Benefits?

"We believe the coast should be for everyone!"

     The National Coast Trail travels through or next to 35 states, loops along the entire United States and is over 10,000 miles long!  It's America's longest land and water trail - a recreation trail for many user groups!

Hikers    Bikers    Kayakers    Wheelchair Users
Canoeists    Sail Boaters    Horseback Riders

  • It's "for everyone" from young to old -- individuals, couples, families and groups.
  • Although it's a big trail, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the trail only as a long-distance trek - just take a short visit or make it a day trip or weekend outing.
  • Enjoy the beauty and diversity of the trail as it passes through coastal forests, along ocean beaches, the shores of the Great Lakes, by snow-capped mountains or over rugged deserts.

     The potential benefits to the general public, the people of local coastal communities and the wildlife of the coastal environment will be realized to their greatest extent when the entire trail is complete and protected.

  • The general public will be able to access the coast, experience the natural, historic and cultural environments and enjoy the trail for rest, relaxation, recreation, health and renewal.
  • The positive impact on the local communities will not only provide these personal benefits close to home but also the potential for increased sustainable economic opportunities for businesses involved in both recreation and tourism related products and services.
  • The wildlife of the coastal and other environments will be protected through the preservation of adjacent trail areas providing both a reserve for biodiversity and migratory travel corridors for both air and land-based life.
  • Government agencies with limited funds and resources will be able to provide needed recreational opportunities and conservation projects by working in partnership with us.

The NCTA: "Uniquely Qualified"

"Trails are built by people . . .
  people with energy, persistence, organization and special knowledge!"

  • Yes, we're unique!  The National Coast Trail Association is both the creator of and the only organization working exclusively with the mission to develop a National Coast Trail in the United States!  In fact, in relation to our priority goal of developing the West Coast Trail section we also had the original idea for the "Washington Coast Trail!"
  • Yes, we're qualified!  The National Coast Trail Association's board members and executive director bring years of professional and volunteer experience in working with non-profit organizations.  This experience includes leadership, management, public relations, organizing, membership services, and fundraising in social, environmental, and trail organizations.  Already well qualified, our executive director continues to develop both the skills and special knowledge necessary to provide leadership, achieve success and simply "do the job better."  He recently completed his certificate program in both Non-Profit Management and Development Director, and has been trained in trail building, maintenance and leading trail projects through Volunteers for Outdoor Washington.  Our executive director's energy, persistence and deep personal interest in coastal trails are clear when you realize that he has hiked the entire length of both the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail in 1988 on a 30-day trek, the 200-mile "Washington Coast Trail" in 2 weeks in 1992, and 1200 miles along the California Coastal Trail over 3 and one-half months in 1996!
  • Location is another unique advantage we possess!  The National Coast Trail Association can quickly access the greatest available resources for both research and coordination on the west coast!  We are located in Portland, Oregon and are only a 3-hour drive from Seattle, Washington or a 2-hour flight from San Francisco, California!  This allows us to do both library research and have direct in-person meetings with government agencies and other non profits to develop the partnerships necessary to get the trail built!  In terms of doing field research on the coast itself, we are only a 7-hour drive to either the NW tip of Washington or to the Oregon-California border! Our geographic location is excellent!

NCTA Volunteers:  "Incredible People"

"We'd like to give you a shovel and have you dig for a day!"

"The NCTA and Volunteers:  The Team Ideal making the Dream Real!"

     Building a long-distance trail is like building the world's largest dam!  Since both are gigantic "public works," it takes thousands of people and requires both excellent organization and coordination over time to carry out their construction!  Both require the recruitment of people to actually build them and involves hard work.  The volunteers working on trails are not only incredible people but also essential in achieving the dream.

     Trail volunteers have a long history of making dreams come true by their own sweat, motivation and dedication!  As a matter of fact, read the following description of how America's first recreational long-distance trail - the Long Trail of Vermont - was actually finished.

     ". . . the Trail inched toward Canada, finally stopping twenty miles short of the goal.  In 1931 two faculty members of the University of Vermont, Charles G. Doll and Phillips D. Carlton, agreeing that 'almost to Canada' was not good enough, packed off into the mountains with axes, saws, and tents . . . the professors completed the wilderness path, slogging through snow and wind.  News of America's longest nature trail soon spread from coast to coast."

                                                       AMC Trail Building & Maintenance Book

     The board and other volunteers of the National Coast Trail Association provide the organization, coordination and energy needed to achieve the vision of a National Coast Trail.

We LISTEN to our Members!

"I was encouraged to actively participate and everyone was listening."

  • The National Coast Trail Association approaches decision-making through a process known as "Consensus."  Simply stated, consensus stresses the cooperative development of a decision with group members working together rather than competing against each other.  The goal of consensus is a decision that is consented to by all group members.  Of course, full consent does not mean that everyone must be completely satisfied with the final outcome - in fact, total satisfaction is rare.  However, the decision must be acceptable enough so all will agree to support the group in choosing it.
  • The consensus process involves an assumption of cooperation. Since the goal is group unity, rather than winning against the opposition, every member is considered important and the group works to listen and respond to each person.  Everyone's support and cooperation are needed, so the softer voices that might be drowned out in a competitive situation, such as majority-rule with only two alternatives as choices, are encouraged and attended to.  Both feelings and logical argument are treated as important.  When a decision is not satisfactory as a whole, even though a majority may favor it, new options are explored and often creative solutions are discovered that would otherwise be overlooked.
  • Consensus decision making requires a high level of involvement and responsibility.  Listening to the advice of experienced people is an important tool in good decision-making, but in the consensus process this input must be balanced by the active involvement of all the group members.  Although this requires a lot of time and energy from people, we believe the results are worth the effort.

These are idealistic principals.  They are part of our vision of a better world.  But they are not just idealistic - they are also practical.  Experience with consensus has shown it both can and does work.  Consensus is a practical tool for pursuing our ideals - providing a way for people to learn and change so they are able to work together better.  The consensus process is a social activity in itself where members learn new skills and increase their awareness both of themselves and others as well as a tool for pursuing our goal of a National Coast Trail!

Why Trails Are Important!

"Fun and enjoyment of the outdoors are great . . .
  but trails can both 'be' and mean so much more."

     What a great day to travel a trail!  What a beautiful day!  A special place of Nature!  Yes, Fun and Enjoyment but also so much more!  A special and meaningful experience -- whether alone or with another!  Exploration!  Romance!  Wonder.  Awe.  Creativity.  Intense Emotion!  Inspiration!  Perspective.  History.  Harmony.  Hasn't it ever led you to places not only outside but inside of yourself - emotionally, psychologically or spiritually?

     Yes, trails have much to offer everyone!  The potantial opportunities, benefits and values are there.  But sometimes poeple are unaware and they remain sometimes hidden - sometimes missed - sometimes unrealized - sometimes overlooked!  It'ss time "the voice of the trail" was heard!  We are the voice of the trail - you are the voice of the trail!  Trails are an important part of both our existence and the experience of the journey we call life - let's know this and do something about it!  Let's attain the vision of the National Coast Trail and environmental preservation!  The voice of the trail is calling you!  Join with us, today!  Become Part of The Dream!

"Become Part of The Dream!"

"Without support, the trail will only remain a dream."

     Have you ever stood "on the river with only one shore" as the native coastal tribes refered to it and walked along this sandy edge of infinity?  Have you ever looked out over the blue waters of the wide-open and mysterious ocean?  Our guess is you have.  Our point is you've been involved in recreation and have had public access to some very special places along the coast.  We think your experience of the coast has probably been not only pleasant but in some way meaningful, too.  Rest, Relaxation, Recreation, Recovery or Renewal - just what and how many times has the coast given you something of value to your life?

     So, what can you offer the trail?  The answer is simple.  "Support" - the support necessary to be effective and achieve success.  Support can come in many forms - volunteering, membership, donations of materials, equipment and services and, of course, other funds.  Everything helps but a proper level of funding is crucial in making any program successful.  For example, we have hired an executive director, not only in order to provide the consistency necessary to realistically get the work done, but also to responsibly maintain the organization's administrative requirements -- and that takes money.

     Membership is currently the primary form of support for the National Coast Trail Association and not only provides many of our volunteers, but also the funding essential to operate effectively.

  • Membership is an important part of our educational program because as a member, you receive our quarterly newsletter, Coast Trails!, with details of both our activities and about the National Coast Trail itself.
  • Membership allows us to carry out the programs that move us toward our dream of a National Coast Trail.
  • Membership means you are providing resources for public access, recreation, and coastal preservation for everyone and along the entire coast!

Membership is an important way you can "become part of the dream."

 JOIN WITH US RIGHT NOW, ON-LINE  so the trail and some special place are not lost but kept for future generations!

Help us make the National Coast Trail a reality!