Our Stories

NCTA Regional Trail Coordinators: A Day in the Life

Categories: General, Trail Maintenance

Our Regional Trail Coordinators are vital liaisons to volunteers, Affiliate and Partner organizations and agencies, and members of the public. Much of their trail management, protection, and outreach work is done face-to-face on or near the North Country Trail.


by Matt Davis, NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator (RTC) for North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin


The Coronavirus situation certainly had us all adjusting to a “new normal” life this spring. While I was certainly grateful to be still working, the travel restrictions and social distancing requirements definitely do make the job of being an RTC more difficult – especially during the start of our busy field season.
Provided by Matt Davis

What exactly have I been up to this spring? In short, I’ve been helping Chapters in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin deal with cancelled public outreach events, cancelled/postponed trail maintenance events and trail closures, and navigating how to do some of our work in the virtual world. I’ve also been trying to stay in touch with our partners, and track what restrictions may be in place for our volunteers and North Country Trail users.

Here are some highlights of how we’re working in different ways out west:

  • One of my work plan goals for 2020 is to help start a new volunteer group in the Bismarck/Minot, ND area. Our public informational gatherings in Minot and Bismarck, and the Will “Akuna” Robinson thru-hike kickoff event at Lake Sakakawea State Park scheduled for late March and early April were both postponed/cancelled. I thought about rescheduling the gatherings in Minot and Bismarck as one virtual gathering, but didn’t because the answer to the question of what these new volunteers would be able to do and when was unknown. Finally, now in late June, we’ll be doing a virtual gathering in addition to two in-person volunteer orientation sessions at Lonetree Wildlife Management Area and Audubon National Wildlife Refuge. These are the two places where we need new volunteers the most.
  • Our Ely Hikers’ Social event in early April turned into the Virtual Ely Hikers’ Social Gathering using Zoom, while the accompanying group hike was cancelled. Under Derrick Passe‘s leadership, we are jump starting route development in between the Kekekabic Trail and Ely and recruiting new volunteers from the Ely area.
  • The Volunteer Vacation trip that I was planning on leading on the Border Route Trail in mid-May has been postponed (maybe) until this fall.
  • I’m hoping we’ll be able to soon organize a virtual gathering of all the Trail partners in Wisconsin to help make introductions. (The new National Park Service staff and I have some new relationships to make.) We would also discuss priority trail projects for 2020.

In addition, I have been spending time helping Chapters navigate the use of Zoom in holding Chapter board meetings (like the DPC leadership team meeting shown here), hosting Chapter meetings, and planning outreach events. While they are not replacements for meeting in-person and certainly not replacements for gatherings out on the NCT, they are still useful for keeping the momentum we have created together going as we traverse our “new normal.”