Tsalteshi receives Outstanding Organization Award

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ARPA members take a tour of Tsalteshi Trails on Oct. 7 during the conference in Soldotna

Tsalteshi Trails Association is thrilled to have received the 2020 Outstanding Organization Award from the Alaska Recreation and Park Association. ARPA held a conference in Soldotna Oct. 6-7, including taking a bike tour of area trails.

The award recognizes entities that make great contributions to their community and to the improvement of recreation in Alaska. Tsalteshi was recognized for its efforts to meet the increase in users when COVID hit, stepping up maintenance, grooming and programming to make sure we had a safe, fun and welcoming place for people to get out and enjoy.

Sen. Peter Micciche presents Jordan Chilson, secretary of the Tsalteshi Trails Association Board of Directors, with the 2020 Outstanding Organization Award from the Alaska Recreation and Park Association on Oct. 7 during ARPA’s annual conference, held this year in Soldotna.

Here’s the award:

“2020 was a blur of restrictions, closures, delays and cancelations of many recreational opportunities due to COVID-19, but Tsalteshi Trails Association and its amazing crew of volunteers jumped in to give the community a safe option to stay active. The mission of TTA is to ‘actively provide and support a multi-use trail network that encourages healthy outdoor recreation,’ and for many, the trails are vital to the health of the entire community. From cross-country skiing to mountain biking to berry picking, Tsalteshi Trails provided the community with an essential escape into nature and reprieve from the health crisis. 

With many people working and schooling from home, the trails saw an increased number of users in the spring, taking advantage of the growing daylight and warmer weather to enjoy the groomed ski trails. The team of trail groomers and TTA volunteers also increased their efforts to welcome many of these new users to the trail system.

The Tsalteshi Youth Ski and Sprockets (youth mountain bike) programs are organized by dedicated volunteers and coached by an even larger gaggle of amazing volunteers who give their time and energy to introduce youth to the trails and encourage a lifetime of recreation. These programs help encourage the next generation of Alaskan recreation enthusiasts to love being outside year-round, enjoying the local trails and recreation opportunities.

TTA hosts a variety of community and high school runs and races that help build community, with families of all ages participating. These events were even more important in 2020 as the isolation of winter and COVID was weighing on the community. Among the highlights of the year were the third annual Tour of Tsalteshi — the premier long-distance Nordic ski race around the main trails — and the Ski for Women event that works to stop the cycle of domestic abuse in the community. Both events were huge successes and brought the community out to get some fresh air and exercise.

The most direct benefit of having a multi-use, non-motorized trail system in your community is that it helps creates a better place to live, work and play, and the Tsalteshi Trails Association is a key organization in the community to help make that happen, and an ideal candidate for the ARPA Outstanding Organization Award.”