Harvey Bell Award

Just before the turn of the 21st century, Harvey Bell, a longtime trail contractor and member of the Western Trailbuilders Association (renamed the Professional Trailbuilders Association in 2004), passed away. As a stickler for quality trail design and construction—and an opinionated and memorable character as well—PTBA keeps Harvey’s memory alive with its Harvey Bell Memorial Award.

Any individual or group, regardless of employer, can qualify for the award based on demonstrated innovative and/or outstanding achievements in trail design and/or construction. We welcome nominations. The award is presented at the awards banquet of the biennial Trailbuilders Conference in February or March.


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2013 Harvey Bell Memorial Award Recipient

Carl May, May’s Trail Equipment

Carl May

Carl May

The Board of the Professional Trailbuilders Association would like to honor Carl May, WTBA founder and long-time PTBA member with the 2013 Harvey Bell Award.

Walter “Carl” May, 74, of Sagle, ID, died, Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 2:50AM, after a 3 year battle with cancer. He was born June 9, 1938 in Ada, OK, on an 80 acre small farm in a log cabin. Carl’s parents were Walter I May and Mary Ellen Hall. Carl’s parents moved to California in the early 1940’s to work in the fruit harvest and later in Hydraulic tunnel construction.

In 1964 Carl moved his family to Sandpoint (Sagle) Idaho and worked in the woods, logging for 10 years. Then for 25 years built hiking trails under contract for the USFS and BLM until he injured his knee and had to retire from that work.

In 1992 he purchased an established Honda dealership and built it to a viable and successful business, May’s Honda, which runs like a well oiled machine by his well chosen employees. May’s Honda is a well respected distributor of trail building equipment, as well as various Honda machines.

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2011 Harvey Bell Memorial Award Recipient

Carroll Vogel, Sahale LLC

Carol Vogel, Sahale LLC

The Professional Trailbuilders Association is very proud to join conference attendees in celebrating the trail building legacy of Carroll Vogel by awarding him the 2011 Harvey Bell Award.

Drift Bridge, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie NF

Mr.Vogel, of Seattle, died July 5 from prostate cancer at age 56, but the more than 200 bridges and trails he built in national parks, forests and open spaces throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada remain as his legacy. If you’re an avid hiker, you’ve probably stepped on a bridge or trail that he made.

Read a great article by Gerry Wilbour about Carroll Vogel’s impact on the trail and bridge building world:




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2010 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Dafydd Davis, “Trails by Dafydd Davis”

Dafydd Davis

Dafydd Caradog Davis MBE is a Welsh mountain bike trail builder, known for the creation of several major UK mountain biking resorts such as Coed-y-Brenin.

Davis received a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2004 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for ‘services to forestry’. He then left Forestry Enterprise and now works as a free-lance trail developer. He has worked extensively in Ireland, England, Israel, Canada and Japan and has developed methods for trail construction that provide sustainable but challenging routes that are durable and accessible to a range of riding abilities.

Davis is an all round mountain athlete. He has represented his country as a fell runner and is an accomplished rock climber and alpinist. His first significant opportunity to develop mountain bike trails came in the Coed Y Brenin Forest Park in North Wales in the Mid-90’s where he was employed from a background of outdoor educational instruction by Forestry Enterprise to develop trails for the new sport of Mountain Biking. There was limited budget and Davis was innovative in using volunteers, youth organisations and the Armed Forces to provide the labour needed to build sustainable trails through the forest. The forest park soon developed a reputation for excellent riding conditions, allowing Davis to approach the new Welsh assembly and gain funding to develop more riding in Coed Y Brenin, as well as trails in four other Welsh forests. This was achieved, and in 2002 IMBA announced Wales to be the world’s top mountain biking destination.

Trails by Dafydd Davis

This ancient landscape in Great Britain is the scene of new opportunities for outdoor recreation, particularly bicycling, on a rebuilt trail system. With the decline of coal mining, southern Wales’ historic industrial base, the community turned to recreation to recover.

Local cyclist Dafydd Davis was hired in 1995 to build trails. He started alone using hand tools in the Coed y obrenin Park with a budget of just £750 ($1,000). The trails proved an instant success and use of the park doubled almost immediately. Davis obtained sponsorship from corporate backers such as the drink manufacturer Red Bull and U.K. Forest Enterprises helped him obtain mechanized equipment to build trails faster. Today, Davis’ team is developing five mountain biking parks in Wales and employs 40 people full time. They expect to spend £800,000 ($1 million) in the next two years.

The place where the story begins is Coed-y-Brenin (Welsh for King’s Forest) a few miles north of the little town of Dolgellau in Snowdonia National Park. It was Dafydd Davis’s idea to develop purpose-built mountain bike trails here. To their credit his then-new employers, Forestry Commission Wales, grasped the potential.

In those days it was mostly picks and shovels wielded by Dafydd and any volunteers he could round up. Trail-building was in its infancy and pioneers like Dafydd had to make it up as they went along, though of course they could draw on experience of riding mountain bikes and building trails for walkers and other users. Crucially, Dafydd had a clear vision of the type of trail that would attract mountain bikers.

Evidently he got a lot of it right, because bikers soon came and continued to come in ever-increasing numbers. Today many people regularly travel several hours from the population centres of South Wales, the Midlands, Merseyside and Manchester and some come from much further afield.

Read more at Suite101: Coed-y-Brenin, Pioneer MTB Centre: Mould-breaking center has great mountain bike trails to ride today (http://bicycling.suite101.com/article.cfm/coedybrenin_pioneer_mtb_centre#ixzz0hzNLALGI)


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2009 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Roger Bell, Bellfree Contractors Inc.

Roger Bell receiving the 2009 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Roger Bell, winner of PTBA’s 2009 Harvey Bell Memorial Award for “Outstanding Excellence in Trail Design and Construction”, presented at its Annual Conference in Asheville, NC, March 2009

Roger, recently retired as President of Bellfree Contractors, Inc., has been a member of the Association since the early 80’s shortly after it was formed as the Western Trailbuilders Association by several trail contractors, including his brother Harvey. Roger, who was then a college administrator with a PhD from the University of Washington, had been working for his brother off and on since 1970–which means he has built trails professionally for 38+ years! They formed their corporation, with Roger as President and Treasurer, along with another brother, Bruce, and two nephews in 1986. Roger took the company over by himself in the early 90’s and Harvey formed another trailbuilding company with his son.

One year, when Harvey was WTBA President, he could not be at the conference as he was off in West Virginia building a trail under a tight deadline; and so he asked Roger to plan and handle the meeting. Coming from an academic background, this was no great task, and Roger proceeded to put together a more professional conference than the Association had been holding previously. The members liked that and, over his protestations, voted to make him President. In those days, before computers and cell phones, the President pretty much did everything. He was also Treasurer, conference organizer, newsletter writer, etc. Roger held that position for a number of years.

Gerry Wilbour, VP for several of those years, did his darndest to keep Roger as President so he, Gerry, would not have to assume that somewhat thankless job himself! But eventually Roger and others got revenge and pushed Gerry to step up, which he did in spades.

Roger Bell, back in the day on Brown Mountain

In 1996, after Roger had stopped being President, the Association sent him and Jim Angell to the American Trails National Trails Symposium where they both made presentations about the important role contracting has played in developing robust trail systems. They went also to lobby, since the conference was in the Capitol, for more dollars for contracting. Funds were tight and the Forest Service tended in far too many instances to siphon off much of the limited trail budget for in-house crews and sometimes even for stuff other than trails.

At that meeting Roger was invited to be a Board member of American Trails. He immediately became Treasurer, then VP, and eventually Board Chair. Currently he is Vice Chair again. Pam Gluck, Executive Director of American Trails, assumed her position shortly after Roger joined the Board, and she has signaled her determination that he continue, despite his recent retirement, as an active Board member.

Pam said, “Roger has been such an instrumental part of moving American Trails and the national trails movement forward. He has never-ending enthusiasm for trails and his interests continue to evolve. Roger is always on the cutting-edge — exploring issues important to the future of trails, including: getting kids out on trails; promoting trails for health; creating trails “close-to-home” in developments; thinking and working out of the box with “hybrid contracting”; and deepening our awareness of trails as the “green way” for America. He is so well-deserving of this very prestigious award!”

PTBA has benefited considerably from Roger’s involvement in the national scene, and due to a number of other factors, including the incredible website developed by Troy Scott Parker and the emergence of strong and effective leaders such as Gerry Wilbour and Woody Keen, has moved to center stage in terms of professional credentials about the art and science of trailbuilding. The membership has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and has become more diverse in terms of age, gender, and location. Roger was one of the early leaders who began that transformation. PTBA now puts on what is widely regarded as a first rate conference in which members and other experts share their considerable knowledge with trail people of all types. The organization’s Board is decidedly more active and we even have a part time paid executive to handle on-going business and conference coordination. A far cry from its parochial beginnings.

Harvey died in 2000 and at its subsequent 2001 Annual conference the Association created this award in his name. It should be added that Harvey was Roger’s polar opposite in many ways–Roger has said that Harvey never strung together more than three sentences without insulting someone! But he was a character who embodied the rawboned, opinionated, stubborn but strongly appreciated trailbuilding traditions. It is fitting, if also ironic, that Roger would now receive the Award named for his brother. Only one other member, Jim Angell, has been so honored, and that came following his retirement from trailbuilding and his untimely death. Roger, thankfully, only had to retire before being honored!

“Trail Tales” by Roger Bell

Roger has written a number of articles, mostly for American Trails Magazine, and in addition has published a book, Trail Tales, about his heady experiences especially in the backcountry. It elucidates through poetry the wildly adventurous, funny, and often scary times hacking out trails and trying to survive while loving almost every moment

Roger estimates Bellfree Contractors has completed over 400 successful (albeit not always profitable) projects in 14 states. He has in the past ten years or so focused primarily on design/build front country trails in Southern California contracting and consulting with State and local agencies, conservancies, private developers, etc. His company enjoys a well earned reputation for quality work, reliability, and knowhow; and Roger has during this time built a successful and very much in-demand trail business. As of Jan 1 of this year Hans Keifer, a mountain biker and volunteer crew leader, is the new owner of Bellfree; Roger will help out for awhile as Hans gets his feet wet in this challenging, never dull, extraordinarily interesting, but sometimes insane undertaking.

Roger has made a mark in other dimensions. He became Board President of Whole Access, an organization promoting trails for people with disabilities. This was after receiving an award from them at a California Trails Conference. He also has been responsible for the fact that at each of our conferences since his granddaughter died in the 90’s from a brain tumor we pass the hat to support Ride for Kids, an organization which does amazing fund raising to support pediatric brain tumor research.

Roger has made important contributions to PTBA and to the trail world generally and we honor him not only with this Award, but also as a lifetime member emeritus of PTBA. We wish him all the best as he enters a new phase of his life, one that will still engage trails in important but hopefully less strenuous ways!

At the banquet honoring him, he read a couple of his Tales. Here are a few lines from one of those called “John at the Edge”. These lines have been inscribed at the viewpoint of his last trail built fittingly in his hometown of Redlands:

Dramatic trail tread built by Roger Bell and crew.

When life takes us to the edge
It can lead us further still
To learn what really counts
And tap our deepest will

Here is a sampling of some of Roger’s articles:

TRAIL TALES: The poems of Roger Bell –

Veteran trail planner tells his stories in verse –

Cinderella Comes of Age: Trails enhance private developments and residential communities –

Trails in New Developments: a case study –

Kids on trails: an antidote for “Nature Deficit Disorder” –

Trails, rivers, and global warming –

Hybrid Contracting: Extending resources with trail contractors –


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2008 Harvey Bell Memorial Award Co-Recipients

Tony and Sue Reece, Hi Line Helicopters
Lester Kenway, Trail Services LLC

Tony and Sue Reece – Hi Line Helicopters – Harvey Bell Award Recipient

Hi Line Helicopter delivery

Pilot Tony Reece has been an innovator in the use of a helicopter for trail construction and has helped build scores of trails and trail bridges. The trail community has been exceptionally blessed and fortunate to have such a skilled, innovative pilot to work with for so many years. From graveling highly developed trails to flying bridge stringers or mobilizing crews into remote or otherwise inaccessible areas, he is absolutely the best and gives his all to every project.

Tony Reece and Hi Line Helicopters have been instrumental in making the reconstruction, repair or construction of numerous trails which might not have been otherwise possible due to remote location or lack of access or prohibitive cost. They have worked with numerous contractors, and public land management agencies to find the most effective and efficient means of getting a job done. Tony, Sue and the Hi Line crew have gone out of their way to make projects work by assembling loads, hauling equipment or materials, providing storage and providing the ground support needed to make each flight efficient. We are grateful for their schedule juggling to accommodate changes due to weather, personnel or plans that come along each season. We are also grateful for his wife, Sue Reece, who for years made all the schedule juggling work, drove the fuel truck and snuck treats into the gravel buckets and other unexpected places.

Hi LIne delivering material to back country location.

Tony began his flying career in 1956 when he earned his first pilots license. In 1972 he decided to learn to fly a helicopter and has since amassed more that 23,000 hours of flight time, much of that in his Hughes 500.

The list of trail projects Hi Line has helped with is extensive – a partial listing is below. I first worked with Hi Line in 1987 while constructing the Artist Ridge Trail on the Mt. Baker Ranger District, MBSNF. Tony flew gravel, and among other things, delivered rock for a 50’ causeway. I thought he would pile the large boulders nearby. Instead he placed them together side by side. All I did was nudge the rocks a few inches with a rock bar. Then he filled the causeway with gravel. Beautiful. I was awed by his skill and artistry then and my admiration has only grown.

Watching Tony deliver a sling load of gear to a remote mountain or place a back haul load into the bed of a waiting pick up gives you a sense of his virtually unmatched mastery of three dimensional space needed for this work. What an asset.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Trail Projects: Heather Lake Loop Trail (CMTB), Beaver Lake Trail (Absalom), Mt. Pilchuck Trail (South Fork Construction and USFS), Skyline Bridge / Pacific Crest Trail (DRP), Miners Creek Bridge / Pacific Crest Trail (CMTB), Canyon Creek Bridge Suspension Bridge/ Suiattle River Trail (DRP), Lake 22 Trail – (YRU), Lake 22 Loop Trail (Oregon Woods), Downey Creek Trail (Sawtooth), Big Four Ice Caves Trail (Hawk Enterprises), Milk Creek/ PCT (T and S Construction), Circle/ Crystal Lake Trail (YRU), Upper Whitechuck/ PCT Flood Repairs (CMTB), Crystal Creek/ Black Oak Creek Bridges – Whitechuck Bench Trail (Absalom), Artist Ridge Trail (USFS), Cathedral Pass Trail (USFS), Hidden Creek, Anderson Creek, Baker River Trail Bridge, Rocky Creek Bridge – Park Butte Trail (USFS), Park Butte Trail (YRU), Rocky II Bridge / Scott Paul Trail (USFS), Scott Paul Trail (KBL), Bell Creek (YRU), Look Out Mountain (USFS), Hidden Lakes Peak (USFS), Anderson Watson Puncheon (USFS), Lake Serene Trail (Twin Oakes Construction) (CMTB), Lake Dorothy Trail (Sawtooth) (Absalom), and many more!

Tony Reece and Hi Line Helicopters have also done many projects for Washington State DNR, Washington State Parks, North Cascades National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park and other National Forests.


Lester Kenway – Trail Services LLC – Harvey Bell Award Recipient

Lester Kenway has been working and experimenting with wire rope and rigging equipment for 26 years. Since 1993, he has supplied equipment, advice and instruction in the safe use of this equipment throughout the United States via his company, Trail Services LLC.

Lester has been involved in trails since 1971 through positions with the State of Maine, as an Appalachian Trail Volunteer, and as an independent contractor. He served as the Trail Supervisor at Baxter State Park for 22 years.

Lester continues his service to the State of Maine as Program Coordinator of the Maine Conservation Corps where he manages 8 trail crews. He lives with his wife Elsa in Bangor Maine.


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2007 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Civilian Conservation Corps

PTBA presented the 2007 Harvey Bell Award to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Accepting this award on behalf of the CCC, were Bob Robeson and Walt Bailey. These men were recommended by Walter Atwood, Current president of the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni.

Since there was no work in ’34,
I went and joined the CC Corps…
The work was hard, I must agree,
But it sure made a man of me.
In four years I traveled far,
I owe it all to the great FDR…
He took many fellows off the street,
And put the country back on its feet…

(From a poem by Ed McCann, CCC veteran)

They were called “Roosevelt’s Tree Army” and “Three-Cs Boys,” but almost everyone who lived through the Great Depression proclaimed the Civilian Conservation Corps the best of America’s recovery programs. Between 1933 and 1942, almost three million young men were employed across the nation.

CCC workers performed over 100 types of work, from planting trees (over three billion) to building parks (more than 800 nationwide) to developing over 28,000 miles of hiking trails. They also saved 20 million acres from soil erosion, built 47,000 bridges and installed over 5,000 miles of water supply lines. The accomplishments of the program seem endless.

Some of the specific accomplishments of the Corps during its existence included 3,470 fire towers erected, 97,000 miles of fire roads built, 4,235,000 man-days devoted to fighting fires, and more than three billion trees planted. Five hundred camps were under the control of the Soil Conservation Service, performing erosion control. Erosion was ultimately arrested on more than twenty million acres. The CCC made outstanding contributions in the development of recreational facilities in national, state, county and metropolitan parks.

Each man in the CCC was paid $30 and had to send home $25 of that to their families. Many times, the $25 was the only income the family had. The CCC pioneered many of the conservation techniques used today. They did a lot of timber management. They truly started what we’re doing today. The CCC impact across the US is measured by the structures still standing and the stories of the ones that have passed.


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2006 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew

IMBA Trail Solutions built technical feature

PTBA presented the 2006 Harvey Bell Award to the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew. Celebrating its tenth year on the road, a partnership between Subaru of America and the International Mountain Bicycling Association continues to bring trail education to volunteers and land managers around the country. Willing and resilient couples have been packing all their earthly belongings into Subaru Outbacks to embark on a collective trailbuilding odyssey that has now:

  • Spanned over 1,000,000 miles on America’s highways and byways;
  • Empowered over 35,000 volunteers;
  • Led almost 1,000 weekend-long trailbuilding seminars; and
  • Built over 200 miles of trails on America’s public lands.

IMBA Trail Solutions built “Flow Trail”

While the statistics are impressive, the true worth of the program lies in what these educated volunteer groups have gone on to accomplish in their local parks, forests, deserts, and prairies. Subaru and IMBA are very proud of this joint commitment to the outdoors and are celebrating by renewing the program to bring more capacity to the trails community in years to come.

On top of the work that Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews have done in the past and continue to do in the future, the program has also spawned IMBA’s professional trail contracting program, Trail Solutions. Almost every Trail Solutions employee has spent two years traveling the country, teaching trails. This brings a comprehensive understanding of trail and soil conditions under differing trail use matrices that has allowed the Trail Solutions program to grow from two to 10 staff over the last four years.

The Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew and Trail Solutions are proud to be involved with the Professional Trailbuilders Association and are honored to have been presented with the Harvey Bell Award. In the end, it is those trailbuilders who came before us that present us with the opportunities and knowledge we have today. From the Romans to the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Forest Service to individuals like Harvey Bell, IMBA seeks to be a positive force in the trails community for decades to come.


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2005 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Jim Angell, Corplan, Inc.

Jim Angel, master trailbuilder.

For the first time, PTBA awarded the 2005 Harvey Bell Award to one of its own members, Jim Angell of Corplan, Inc.

Jim described himself as one who “solves difficult problems with ease.” That is exactly what he did as both trail designer and builder. As a one-person company, he gracefully hung trails on steep mountain faces where few souls could even conceive a trail, then built them with volunteer crews, prison inmates, professional trail contractors, or any other available labor source. He was one of the first to design trails for virtually all uses, from rock climbing accesses to accessible trails, mountain bikes to horses to OHVs, from rugged mountains to manicured city parks. And he constantly sought—and often invented—ways to improve everything he tackled. Few trail designers have this much range.

On a switchback, Jim (at left) demonstrates McLeod use to a volunteer crew. Photo by Anne McGill

Jim’s ability to make the complex look easy comes from his background and personality. Highly intelligent and highly educated, he had an astounding collection of opera yet could kick back an (imported) beer with the rest of the dirt diggers. Earlier in his life, he taught ballroom dancing and worked as a mechanical engineer, optimizing the visual puzzle of cutting clothing parts from the parent material with minimal fabric waste. As a trail designer, he was a rare combination of practical engineer, theoretical engineer, visual artist and trail user. In his words, he “put himself in the user’s shoes” and designed trails to be fun for the designated use as well as sustainable. He had a talent for fitting trails into sites so well that, as both art and science, they feel natural and you can’t imagine them being anyplace else. In construction and cost estimation, he had a talent for accurately finding the quantities of everything and for writing tight, complex specifications with no omissions or errors.

Switchbacks built by Jim Angel and his crew.

Growing out of his long interest in technical rock climbing, Jim did much of the work in his 20-some year trail career with the non-profit Access Fund, designing and building sustainable trails to popular rock climbing areas across the U.S. (Jack of many trades, he was also an early board member for the Access Fund.) Yet even though he was extremely good at impossible trails, he still stretched himself into design, consulting and construction of virtually all trail types for all types of agencies.

Tight trail between a rock and a hard place ascends to a natural slot in the rock Photos by Troy Scott Parker.

He also conducted trainings and workshops, including providing virtually all of the content (and much of the planning) for PTBA’s 2002 Trailbuilders Conference. In one memorable incident, PTBA sent Jim to the National Trails Symposium. On arrival, he discovered—surprise!—he was scheduled to deliver a presentation. He sat down with his laptop and portable printer, developed a presentation with handouts from scratch, then delivered it smoothly as if he had prepared it far in advance. That’s how he was—always eager to apply his formidable mind to any trail problem.

We always thought that he was such a stubborn old goat that he’d live forever. However, in February 2005 at the age of 76, Jim passed away following a sudden illness one month before the award presentation. His son Jamie accepted the Harvey Bell Award on his behalf.

Anyone who ever had a chance to talk with Jim at any depth will never forget him—or his opinions hard and numerous as the rocks he loved. Those who don’t know Jim but have experienced his trails will subtly note his talent for gracefully weaving a trail into virtually any site, for turning obstacles into features, and for crafting a direct, comfortable, yet aesthetic trail with no wasted effort.

Those of us who both knew him and continue to benefit from his trails, however, know how he and his trails are one.

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2003 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Robert T. Steinholtz

From left: Roger Bell, Bob Steinholtz and Gerry Wilbour at the 2003 Western Trailbuilders Association conference on February 12, 2003.

WTBA presented the 2003 Harvey Bell Award to Bob Steinholtz for his long career in advancing trail design on all fronts and especially in rustic yet sustainable bridges and wet area crossings.

Bob is a Landscape Architect formerly with the central design office of the National Park Service. Prior to working for NPS, his experience involved preparing plans and specifications for site work for major construction projects, the design of a four-mile cross country ski trail, and a few “nature trails.

His first trail project for the park service was a stock trail to the summit of 8,750′ Guadalupe Peak, the highest peak in Texas. The trail required a bridge in a cliff at 8,200′, probably the highest bridge in the state. The entire trail program was for a 90-mile trail system to be built by competitive bid contracts.

“Highest Bridge in Texas,” Guadalupe Mountain.

Applying the design principles of Landscape Architecture to trail design is a departure from the typical mechanical design of trails. Previously, most trail design used maximum trail grades and minimal construction to lay out the shortest route between two points. Little thought was given to the aesthetic points of interest along the way. Trails can incorporate points of interest to appeal to our Five Senses, although it may be impossible to design one trail that appeals to all five.

The park service had no experience with trail building contracts, so Bob developed “Plan and Profile” sheets similar to that used for road construction. The profile showed the ups and downs of the trail, the trail grade, and the change in elevation from one end of the trail to the other. Trail construction details were drawn and specifications prepared.

While working for the park service, Bob designed a total of 250 miles of trails and trail-related facilities, including the 17-mile Tanawah Trail at the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina which required almost one bridge per mile. In 1980, he organized a course in trail design and construction. Later, these weeklong sessions were held annually. When budgets were cut, he personally sponsored courses in the mountains of Colorado and New York. Participants came from as far as Maine, Georgia, California, Alaska and Canada. Unlike sessions run by federal agencies, participants were from state, county, and municipal agencies; ski areas; utilities; and federal agencies.

After leaving the park service in 1996, Bob started Bristlecone Trails, a trail consulting office. Bob has provided trail expertise in 24 states in terrain from deserts to wetlands to mountains, and most vegetation types. The US Forest Service has printed a manual on wetland trails for which Bob was the principal author.

Arch Bridge over Boone Fork, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Lift bridge, Jean Lafitte National Historic Site, LA

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2002 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

Trail Design Charrette

On February 13, 2002, the Western Trailbuilders Association presented the Trail Design Charrette in northern California with its 2002 Harvey Bell Award.

Trail Design Charette in redwood forest

Where is the edge protection? Core Team members Don Beers (left), Phyllis Cangemi, and Barry Atwood examine a downed tree placed and secured by rebar to serve as edge protection needed in some locations to keep some hikers from “tracking” off the trail.

The Trail Design Charette is a multidisciplinary design synergy effort, the result of a partnership between Whole Access and California State Parks, together with the Humboldt Access Project Independent Living Center, BLM, and others. The Charette team is developing and testing a planning and design process that integrates accessibility, resource protection, and trail construction technology into the planning, design and development of recreational trails worldwide—and to share this process via videotapes and other training materials.

Roger Bell, Don Beers, Phyllis Cangemi

The Design Charette has completed two trails in redwood forests in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in California. By intention, the accessible trails don’t look like accessible trails. The designers, many of whom are involved in the national determination of ADA trail specifications, pushed the envelope to create highly naturalistic trails that feel like they “just happen” to be accessible—even on steep cross slopes and with occasionally steep trail grades. As a result, the two trails are beautifully woven into their sites. Instead of the sometimes sterile feel of accessible trails, everyone appreciates how skillfully the Charette’s trails uses nature itself to focus our attention on the natural world rather than on the trail.

PTBA awarded its 2002 Harvey Bell Award to the Design Charrette of northern California represented by Don Beers, California State Parks (center) and Phyllis Cangemi, Whole Access (right). The award was presented by PTBA Board member Roger Bell (left).

The two trails were developed as a model, but the charrette process was intended from the start to be generic enough that it can be applied to all trails regardless of their environmental conditions and ecological setting. The development of this process is now being documented via videotape and a written manual so that it can be used as a training guide for others improving the trail accessibility in trail systems worldwide.

For more information and project updates, visit the Design Charrette website at www.wholeaccess.org/charrette/.


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2001 Harvey Bell Memorial Award

The Greenway Collaborative

At its annual conference in Reno, Nevada, on Feb. 7, 2001, the Western Trailbuilders Association presented the first annual Harvey Bell Memorial Award to The Greenway Collaborative for excellence in trail design.

The award was accepted by three members of the design team who have provided countless hours of expert volunteer assistance to re-conceiving how people will experience the Grand Canyon.

Those present to accept the award were Jeff Olson, a trail planner from New York and recently the administrator of Millennium Trails who first conceived the Greenway Collaborative, Peter Axelson of Beneficial Designs who provided design guides for disability access, and Robert Searns, an architect from Urban Edges of Denver, Colorado who is now the project developer.

Searns was the featured banquet speaker and told the assembled group about the rationale for their efforts which will dramatically reduce the automobile impact upon the canyon, emphasizing instead some 72 miles of trails for bicycle, hiking and bus access.

Greenway Planning Team

From left: Roger Bell, Jeff Olson, Peter Axelson, Donald Hays, and Robert Searns at the 2001 Western Trailbuilders Association conference on February 7, 2001.

The team, at work for nearly seven years and who may see the first on ground construction during 2001, includes a rich mix of professionals from outside and inside the National Park Service. They have raised over two million dollars to date from government, corporate, and individual sources and will incorporate volunteer participation by youth groups, possibly with expert help from members of the Association.

The Western Trailbuilders Association is made up of over 30 contractors who specialize in trails. The organization has been in existence for about 25 years and meets annually in Reno with various Government agencies, such as the US Forest Service, who use the services of contractors to build trails.

This award also recognizes the contributions of one of its founding members who had been fiercely committed to excellence in trail design. Harvey Bell, truly an unforgettable character, was represented by his brother, Roger Bell, also a California trail contractor and currently Vice-Chair of American Trails.

Bell, in introducing Bob Searns, said the Association was recognizing the groundbreaking work of The Greenway Collaborative because they were, with the Grand Canyon project and others, “positively altering the face of trail design forever.”

A similar design concept is proposed for Yosemite National Park, and members of the team have creatively influenced greenway design in urban centers and front-country trail systems from Denver to San Antonio.

Searns, a major contributor to three books on greenway design and also a board member of American Trails, told the group that good trails were an antidote to technical overload in the information age. In this age, leisure activity tends to mirror the demands of work culture so that “even places like the Grand Canyon are now packaged tour bus photo-ops and not places that fully engage the whole body, mind and spirit.”

Instead, he envisions trails, open spaces and greenways, whether in wilderness parks or near urban centers, as “vital infrastructure that can become part of our daily lives.” Well-designed trails could truly engage the present moment and provide a sense of place, thereby becoming “a chord that resonates the soul.”



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