Local foundation honored by REI | ParkRecord.com

Local foundation honored by REI

Kristina Eastham Of the Record staff

The group that has worked hard to connect Park City with a well-maintained system of trails has been recognized by REI in a reception honoring outdoor non-profits.

Mountain Trails Foundation Board Member Greg Balch was honored last Wednesday at REI in Salt Lake City as one of four Wasatch Outdoor Volunteers of the Year. This is the second year REI has given these awards.

"We just recognized that so much more is falling on the shoulders of volunteers," REI Community Outreach Coordinator Eric Spreg said.

Balch, who has been with Mountain Trails Foundation for eight years, believes they have been successful because the goals of the organization meet the needs of the active citizens of Park City. He also feels that the group, which started out just making trails, is expanding and diversifying.

"We used to go cut trails in the mountains, but now we’re connecting all these neighborhoods with the trails," Balch said.

Mountain Trails, a member-supported organization, is continuing to grow and expand its mandate. During his time volunteering for Mountain Trails, Balch has initiated the Adopt-A-Trail program and worked hard to lobby for the recent Walkability Bond. Currently, he is in charge of the Wheels to Meals Bike Rack Program, which is trying to put bike racks in more places around town. The idea is to make it more convenient for residents to get around town using their bikes

According to Carol Potter, the Executive Director of Mountain Trails, they have a longstanding relationship with REI. They received a grant last year for the construction of kiosks with maps along the Rail Trail.

"Mountain Trails Foundation has this incredible legacy of promoting muscle-powered outdoor recreation and bringing out the community to support their projects," Spreg said. "They stand out as an incredible success story. It can be a real effort to get volunteers out there."

While the focus of the awards is on non-profits that work within the Wasatch Mountain Range, organizations from all over the state were eligible.

"For them to accept our nomination is a bigger deal than it going to me," Balch said. "That Mountain Trails was received that way was a big honor."

Volunteer of the Year awards were also presented to individuals at the Draper Trails Foundation, Ogden Nature Center and Bend-In-The-River. Grants were awarded to The Cottonwood Canyons Foundation for $10,000, Trips for Kids for $10,000, Volunteers for Outdoor Utah for $5,000, and Nordic United for $4,500.

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