National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Making music at the Ashville festival, Blue Ridge Parkway
Interpretive Trails Made Accessible

Description: In June 1992, the Telephone Pioneers of America, a volunteer group of current and retired employees of the telecom industry, entered into a partnership with the National Park Service to rehabilitate the Badlands National Park's major trails. The purpose of this partnership has been to adapt the park's interpretive trails for accessibility by those with mobility impairment. Five trails, totaling 5,460 lineal feet, were rehabilitated and now provide handicapped access to geologic sites, viewsheds and prairie ecosystems throughout the badlands area and safer, easier access for all visitors. Additional trails will be rehabilitated or modified under this ongoing partnership as funding and opportunities present themselves. Telephone Pioneers of America provided supplies, vehicles, equipment and labor for the rehabilitation and adaptation of the trails. They also mentored and coached work release youths from the Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center who provided additional labor. Badlands National Park sponsored the projects, designed and assembled materials for the projects; undertook site preparation and provided supervision and oversight of the construction work.

Since the partnership was first launched with a $52,500 grant from the Unilever Corporation, over $200,000 in labor, supplies and materials has been donated towards the park's trails program by the Telephone Pioneers. The Park has also been successful in securing additional Unilever Corporation awards valued at over $23,000 for recycled plastic lumber products used for the construction of the elevated boardwalks and replacement trail tread. A $50,000 grant has been submitted for consideration for 2004 and the park is currently awaiting a decision.

Geographic area covered: The Badlands National Park consists of roughly 244,000 acres. The partnership area encompasses approximately 26 square miles of highway accessible locations within Badlands National Park in Jackson and Pennington Counties, South Dakota.

List of partners and relationships: Telephone Pioneers of America, Western South Dakota Juvenile Services Center, Unilever Corporation and Badlands National Park.

Accomplishments to date: All trail projects serve as a model for sustainability to the public. Dimension lumber created from plastics and sawdust provides visitors with an introduction to the application of recycled materials in a highly visible area of the park.

The Telephone Pioneers of America and Badlands National Park shared the Director's 1999 National Park Partnership Award in Recreation. The National Park Foundation and Unilever Corporation recognized Badlands National Park with the Recycling at Work 2000 Competitive Grants Program award.

Since 1993, the Telephone Pioneers of America have completed the following projects:

  • Construction of the Fossil Trail (1,760 linear feet) with pressure treated CCA lumber in 1993. Construction of a timbered deck and gathering area to accommodate improvements to the parking area in 2000.
  • Replacement of over 300 linear feet of asphalt trail on Cliff Shelf Trail (2,450 linear feet) with an elevated timber boardwalk in 1995 and 1996. Replacement of trailhead steps and 160 linear feet of asphalt path with a timbered walkway and accessible viewing platform in 1998.
  • Replacement of the Door Trail (600 linear feet) which had been subject to flooding and silt buildup, with an elevated boardwalk trail of recycled plastic lumber in 2001.
  • Replacement of two heavily eroded asphalt trails at the Bigfoot Pass Picnic Area in 2003. Reconstruction of The Journey to Wounded Knee interpretive trail (400 linear feet) and construction of an elevated viewing platform overlooking the historic route. Construction of a shorter overlook trail with recycled plastic lumber.

Key success factors:

  1. Visionary leadership on the part of all partners.
  2. Long term sustained relationship with successes along the way.
  3. Mutual respect between park and friends groups.
  4. Established goals and criteria for evaluating trails.
  5. Trail work being accomplished by park trail crews and a commitment by volunteers.
  6. Annual monitoring by park and friends groups.
  7. The recognition that no agency could accomplish its goals without the assistance of partners.
  8. Time spent building relationships among partners reaped significant rewards.
  9. Major assistance by manufacturer of recycled plastic lumber through a national partnership led by the National Park Foundation.

Frustrations: Very few - the working relationship between the local partners has been very effective.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. A good partnership depends on informal relationships and mutual respect as much as it does on formal written documents.
  2. Each partner must try to show the other in a positive light.
  3. Park visitors love accessible trails and connect with the literal and philosophical links between people and the natural amenities of the park.
  4. Publicize the major accomplishments of partnering to show what was planned was actually accomplished.
  5. Patience.

What would you do differently next time: Joint marketing is a critical factor that we haven't fully developed and it should have been a higher priority. Raise larger amounts of funds and pursue funding more aggressively.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): The partnership agreement can be found at www.nps.gov/badl. Project descriptions and costing elements can be found within the National Park Service's proprietary Program Management Information System (PMIS) and the Facility Management Software System (FMSS).

For more information:

Name: William R. Supernaugh
Affiliation: Superintendent, Badlands National Park
Phone/Fax: 605-433-5280
Email/website: William_Supernaugh@nps.gov

Name: Ronald Dorsey, Facility Manager
Affiliation: Facility Manager, Badlands National Park
Phone/Fax: 605-433-5270
Email/website: Ronald_Dorsey@nps.gov

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvement _X_; Facility Management _X_; Trails _X_; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services _X_; Transportation _X_; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism _X_; Community Relations ___;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Ron Dorsey, Facility Manager Date posted: 2/12/04
Phone: 605-433-5270

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TPA volunteers install Unilever recycled lumber trail tread on boardwalk framework
TPA volunteer installs tread on the Door Trail Boardwalk
Part of the volunteer crew on the Door Trail project
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