In response to “Advocates don’t want conservation corps efforts to trail off,” I would like to publicly advocate for Trails Build Alaska, an effort to secure funding for a statewide trails workforce development program. Governor Dunleavy and the Alaska State Legislature have the opportunity to invest $12 million of the $1 billion stimulus funding the State is receiving to fund this program . COVID-19 cost many people their jobs and reminded us of the importance of outdoor recreation and connecting with our natural environment.
I am writing this from the perspective of someone who worked in the entertainment industry and lost their full-time job last March. Not only did I lose all of my income, I also lost my sense of purpose, livelihood, and daily social interaction. After a month of unemployment and lockdown, I was lucky enough to get a job as a crew member with Trail Mix without any prior experience. I did not expect how much working on trails would improve my mental state and teach me about the land I live on. Being able to positively contribute to my community by sculpting the outdoor environment was a truly rewarding experience.
There are many people still in need of work and our land needs attention now more than ever. Trails Build Alaska will be a statement that our government actively invests in Alaska’s people, land and economy. I wish for this community to support and uplift this program so that it can have impact on a statewide level.