The National Trail Maintenance Symposium in Iiyama, Nagano, was held on November 17-18, 2023.
Organizations in charge of trail maintenance throughout Japan, volunteers who participate in these activities, and people interested in maintenance activities gathered to discuss “What is sustainable trail maintenance?”, “How can we pass trails on to the next generation?” etc. The participants also learned not only about techniques, methods, and knowledge but also about how to deal with nature.
Although the event specialized in the niche content of “trail maintenance,” more than 45% of the participants were not directly involved in trail maintenance. In particular, about 15% of the participants were individuals with no specific attributes, indicating the high interest in this field among the general public these days (thanks to the full house on both days).
In addition, outdoor-related manufacturers, companies, and organizations set up booths in “Nachura,” the venue for the first day of the event, to introduce their activities related to trail maintenance and the hiking scene, as well as to provide information on their companies. A variety of information was provided to participants in between the event contents.
Speaker: Sarah Adams (Regional Manager – Georgia ＆ Nantahala, Appalachian Trail Conservancy)
She spoke in a very easy-to-understand manner about the history of the Appalachian Trail, the maintenance and management system of the 3,500-km long trail, and ATC’s progressive efforts for the next 100 years.
Speaker: Atsushi Onishi (Shin-etsu Trail Club)
The Shin-etsu Trail Club’s efforts to date were explained, along with an overview of the Shin-Etsu Trail and the results of a questionnaire survey of the maintenance volunteers.
Facilitator: Tsutomu Miura (Representative Director of CAJ)
Panelists: Matt Drury (Associate Director of Science and Stewardship, ATC ), Tetsuzo Okazaki (Representative of the Association “Taisetsu-zan Yamamori-tai” and Hokkaido Sangaku Seibi (alpine maintenance) LLC, ), Kei Ito (Mitsumata Sanso Office, Executive of Mitsumata Sanso hutt and Suisho-goya hutt, Representative Director of the Association “Neo Alps”), Hiroshi Kimura (Representative Director of NPO Shin-etsu Trail Club)
Facilitated by Mr. Miura of Conservation Alliance Japan (CAJ), Mr. Drury of ATC, Mr. Okazaki, Mr. Ito, and Kimura went up to the stage as panelists, and they spoke passionately and deeply about their experiences and thoughts on trail maintenance, challenges they are facing, prospects, and their ideal vision of trail maintenance, with many photos shared.
At the social gathering in the evening, while enjoying local cuisine from the Iiyama area, each participant transcended the boundaries of maintenance organizations, governments, companies, and individuals, and discussed the future of trail maintenance with everyone.
Instructor: Matt Drury, Tetsuzo Okazaki
Drury and Okazaki again became our instructors for the workshop. In this session, we went out to the field, and with the help of Adams from ATC, we learned not only about trail maintenance techniques but also about how to understand the situation in the field and how to choose the right maintenance method for the environment. They explained in detail not only the techniques and methods but also the “viewpoint” that a maintainer should have.
Instructor: Taito Okamura (Representative Director of NPO Leave No Trace Japan)
The participants learned how to properly poop in the mountains without impacting nature following the principles of LNT through fieldwork with Okamura of Leave No Trace Japan as a lecturer.
Also, before the opening of the symposium on November 17, the Shin-etsu Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) held a ceremony to sign a Friendship Trail Agreement.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Ms. Sandra Marra, President and CEO of ATC, gave a video message with warm comments and showed the signing of the agreement.
The agreement arrived from Harpers Ferry in the U.S., where the ATC headquarters is located, and was signed by Kimura, Representative Director of the Shin-Etsu Trail Club, in the presence of Sarah from the ATC. The moment when the two organizations shook hands as friendship trails were celebrated with a big round of applause by all in attendance.
The Shin-etsu Trail Club and the ATC will cooperate in the areas of long-distance trail management and promotion, deepening friendship and understanding and promoting exchange in a wide range of areas.
In conclusion, the Shin-etsu Trail Club would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to all the speakers, booth exhibitors, and all those who cooperated in organizing this symposium, as well as to all the companies, organizations, and individuals who helped us in various ways, including from the preparation stage.
Thank you very much to everyone who traveled from all over the country to attend the event.
We hope that we can all continue to work together, share our wisdom, and enliven the scene as a whole so that we can steadily pass on Japan’s trails to the future.
Shinetsu Nature Environment Office of Ministry of the Environment/Chubu Regional Forest Office of Forestry Agency/Kanto Regional Forest Office of Forestry Agency/Nagano Prefecture/Niigata Prefecture/Conservation Alliance Japan/Leave No Trace Japan/GOLDWIN INC./THE NORTH FACE/KEEN/eno/MiiR/YAMAP/Japan Trekking Association/Japan Long Trail Association/Shinano Mainichi Shimbun-sha/Niigata Nippo-sha/Shin-etsu Trail Liaison Conference
Appalachian Trail Conservancy/General Incorporated Association Taisetsu-zan Yamamori-tai/Hokkaido Sangaku Seibi LLC/Mitsumata Sanso Office/General Incorporated Association Neo Alps/A&F Corporation/TRAILS, Inc./Amatomi Trail/Kadoguchi Shuzo Co., Ltd./Tanakaya Shuzo Co., Ltd./Iiyama Echo/Fujimaki Photo Creative/WOODHOUSE STUDIO (Creative Maco)/Iiyama Shoku-bunka no Kai/Ajihorai/Nabekura-kogen Mori-no Ie/Kaori Camplese/Toshio Suzuki/Hideki Hoshino/Laura Belleville/Roger Hahn