Based in Durango, Colorado, Trails 2000 is a
501c3 organization that builds and maintains trails; educates trail users and encourages
connectivity on road, path and trail.
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February 17, 2017
Trails 2000 is gearing up for an exciting 2017 trail season, and Executive Director Mary Monroe Brown is pleased to introduce Emma Millar as the trail crew lead. With over ten years of professional trail building experience—from owning a private business to working with the US Forest Service—Emma brings a stellar skill set and addictive enthusiasm to our organization and is already committed to our mission to plan, build and maintain trails, educate users and encourage connectivity on road, path and trail.
With Emma now a member of the team, we couldn’t wait to sit down with her and learn what she is most excited about as the trail crew lead. And boy, is she ever excited! In her first month, Emma has already been hot on the trail—cruising down favorite trails with nostalgia for her college days at Fort Lewis College, trekking on new trails to take in cool features like grade dips and curvilinear design (like a true trail nerd!), and of course, gearing up for upcoming Trails 2000 events such as the Open House and Trail Reporter Program Training, both held March 1 at Ska Brewing. Once we finally tracked her down (on Star Wars, of course), here is what she had to tell us about her trail expertise and passion for working with volunteers and the community on Durango’s trails. Read on:
[Trails 2000] Emma! Welcome to the team. We are thrilled to have you as trail crew lead. Tell us a little about yourself.
[Emma Millar] Well, I’m originally from Sandpoint, Idaho, and first moved to Durango in 2007 to attend Fort Lewis College (it was really to ride bikes though). I visited a few colleges, but Durango really stuck out because of the easy access to awesome trails—I could ride world-class trails from my dorm room! For a kid without a car, that was pretty vital. After college, I moved to Vermont for a few years, but now I’m back living in Mancos.
[T2000] Aren’t we lucky in Durango, with over 300 miles of trails in our backyard! So you’ve always been drawn to trails—tell us about your professional trail career thus far.
[Millar] I started working on trails while I was in high school; my mom’s best friend was a forester and helped to get me a job with the Forest Service. Little did they know I was going to turn trailwork into a career! I continued working for the Forest Service in Bayfield while I attended Fort Lewis, and after college, I moved to Vermont, where I became a partner in a private trail design and construction company. Even though I loved the work, I needed to move closer to the desert and the mountains. Last summer, I left the Northeast and came back to Colorado.
[T2000] Welcome home! What was your motivation for joining Trails 2000? What do you hope to bring to your role?
[Millar] Well, I am absolutely thrilled to be here! I wanted to work with Trails 2000 for entirely selfish reasons—I love trailwork and I love working with volunteers. I wanted to be a part of such a forward-thinking organization. The mission also reflects my values; building and maintaining trails, and education are all important to me, but the connectivity part is what really resonated. I think the most important goal of trailwork is connecting people to the landscape and to each other.
[T2000] That is spot on in our book. So, what do you most look forward to with Trails 2000, and what do you hope to contribute to the trails in Durango?
[Millar] I’m so excited to start working on the trails! I hope to bring a bunch of enthusiasm to volunteer days and to inspire everyone to get out on the trails and to become trail stewards in addition to trail users. I want all trail users to feel like Trails 2000 is there for them and is listening to their concerns. So don’t hesitate to contact me and tell me what you want!
[T2000] Got trail ideas? Send ’em to Emma@Trails2000.org or come meet her at our Open House! Emma, can you tell us about your personal use of the trails?
[Millar] Mostly I hike and mountain bike. Honestly though, when I get on a new trail, I spend most of my time checking out design and construction techniques. It’s very distracting and you definitely should avoid hiking or riding behind me.
[T2000] Noted! What do you most value about the trails?
[Millar] Trails mean a lot to me—I’ve built my whole career on the power of trails to connect people to the landscape and to each other. There’s an understanding in trail design and construction that if we do our jobs right, the trail user will never even notice. Few people will really see a crib wall, or a grade dip, or notice the nice curvilinear design, and I love seeing people walk or ride right over my work without even realizing that any work was involved.
[T2000] That is a beautiful thing–yet so much works does go into it, thanks to people like you and our amazing Trails 2000 volunteers! Ok, we have to know: What is your favorite trail and why?
[Millar] I’m not sure I have a favorite trail; it’s like picking your favorite kid! I’ve built a lot of trails of which I’m very proud. My go-to after-work trail would probably be Star Wars. I’m a downhiller at heart, but I’m also pretty wimpy now, so Star Wars is great for making me feel super cool and fast, without being actually scary. However, it’s been about five years since I lived in Durango, and there are a lot of new trails, so I’ve got some riding to do!
[T2000] Yes you do! But before then, if you could offer advice to future generations of trail users, what would it be?
[Millar] My advice would be to just calm down, take a deep breath, and realize that no matter how you may feel about it, more people on trails is actually a good thing. Lots of studies show that besides the obvious health benefits of exercise and being outside, positive experiences on trails lead to more people actively protecting trails and access. And that is definitely good.
[T2000] It definitely is! We love that mentality. Ok, so now it is time for our favorite part. The Trails 2000 Speed round—ready, set:
Pulaski or McLeod? [Millar] Oh, man! I used to be such a Pulaski girl, but I’ve probably used a McLeod more in the last few years. My favorite tool is the right one for the job.
Run, hike, bike or ride (horses)? [Millar] Bike and hike.
Tea or coffee? [Millar] I love everything about coffee except the part where it makes me all weird. So I drink tea.
[T2000] Thanks Emma! It was so great to catch up with you. We know you’ve been busy getting ready for what we think is going to be an inspiring trail season. Before we go, anything else you would like us to know?
[Millar] Thank you! I’m stoked and grateful to be here, and I really do want to hear from trail users. Let me know what’s going on, and come introduce yourself at the Open House at Ska Brewing on March 1 and consider joining our Trail Reporter Program.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
©2017 Trails 2000 • PO Box 3868 • Durango, CO 81301 • 970-259-4682