Earlier this year, the Washington Trails Association (WTA), the state’s hiking trail advocacy and maintenance organization, hired Jill Simmons to be the new Executive Director. “First and foremost, hiking is my happiness; it’s what I love to do most. I actually found out about the WTA job by looking for a hike on the website, and within an hour I had applied,” says Simmons, who has hiked on five continents and completed the Wonderland Trail in four days. WTA is a nonprofit group with 35 year-round employees, more than 15,000 member households, and an annual budget of about $4 million. The WTA website recently marked a milestone of 105,000 trip reports on trail conditions around Washington, including over 470 trip reports in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area.
In addition to providing one of the most-used online guides to Washington’s trails, WTA encourages urban youth and their mentors to get outdoors through its Outdoor Leadership Training and gear-lending program. It also coordinates trail-building and maintenance efforts that involved 4,700 volunteers working 150,000 hours on 240 trails on public lands across the state in 2016.
On the WTA website, Simmons says, “I believe that WTA has a leading role to play in shaping the future of Washington through its work to protect trails and connect the growing number of Washingtonians to the outdoors. WTA’s bold strategic plan coupled with the enthusiasm and commitment of the entire WTA community sets the organization on a strong course for its next 50 years.” //