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MZTA - Mile Zero Trail Association


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The Future

Mile Zero Trail Association's mission is to promote development, access, education, preservation, diverse transit and sensible use of parks and trails. While they are not new ideas, they remain critical values for the future.

Significant United States history has been about creating great institutions and advocating for access to them for ordinary people. The nation's progress may stem from concepts like Democracy, Liberty and Justice, but it is not complete. It may even be stalled. Consider the following brief (selected examples) timeline:

About 200 years ago, the ideas and values that led to the Abolition Movement and Women's Rights and Suffrage originated.

1807 - Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves (effective 1808)
1819 - The Emancipator newspaper published by Elihu Embree in Tennessee
1820 - Missouri Compromise resulted from movements for and against slavery
1833 - American Anti-Slavery Society
1836 - An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South by Angelina Grimke
1837 - Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women by Sarah Grimke
1848 - Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention
1863 - Emancipation Proclamation
1865 - 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

About 150 years ago, many great U.S. institutions and parks were established.

1846 - Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
1869 - American Museum of Natural History, New York City
1888 - National Geographic Society, Washington DC
1893 - The Field Museum, Chicago

1864 - Yosemite Grant (became Yosemite National Park)
1872 - Yellowstone National Park (pictured above)
1885 - Niagara Reservation (became Niagara Falls State Park)
1890 - Sequoia National Park
1891 - Shoshone National Forest

About 100 years ago, access became a priority promoted by visionary organizations.

1880-1920s - Good Roads Movement (for bicycles and automobiles)
1892 - The Sierra Club
1902 - American Automobile Association
1916 - National Park Service
1916 - National Park to Park Highway Association
1920 - The National Park to Park Highway was traveled
1921 - Appalachian Trail conceived by Benton MacKaye
1923 - Great Smoky Mountains National Park conceived (first one in the southeastern U.S.)
1923 - Appalachian Trail (first segment opened)
1925 - Appalachian Trail Conservancy established as the Appalachian Trail Conference
1937 - Appalachian National Scenic Trail completed

About 50 years ago, further access to society was a priority.

1954-1968 - Civil Rights Movement
1965 - Selma to Montgomery Marches
1965 - The Higher Education Act of 1965 and National Teacher Corps
1923-1979 - Equal Rights Amendment Campaign
Mid 1940s-Late 1970s - Chicano Movement
Mid Twentieth Century - Chitlin' Circuit (a network that allowed Black entertainers to tour)

Today, many of the same concerns for equality and equal treatment for women and minorities, along with access to education and health care, continue, while clean environment, conservation and access to parks remain "back burner" or deferred issues. Access to parks, however, is also an important issue that is derived from equality, economic stability, public health and more. The extended benefits of great parks and recreation trails are good quality of life, environmental stewardship, future for youth, and the proud achievements of a great nation.

Improved equality, finacial security and healthier lifestyles should lead to greater appreciation for parks and recreation activities, better leadership, economic and cultural literacy, and strengthening aspects of the nation that once made it enviable around the world. Nothing less than the political and economic stability of the United States depends on it.

Parks and trails may be easily overlooked in a society with a set of more desperate goals and human rights deficits. But when the nation is tranquil and thriving, parks are the evidence of its success. Parks must be considered concurrently with other needs. Currently, the nation's parks face issues of overutilization and underutilization, cost of admission, public benefit, funding, management, maintenance, use, and lack of access for large numbers of Americans.


The future for humans in parks is a mysterious proposition. It is complicated by many unknowns. One has to do with the work people will do in the future and the amount of leisure time they will have. Other factors involve economy, environment and social interests.

The promise of greater automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is that we will live better, have more free time and be much safer. While most people have witnessed highly efficient technological developments, many also can't say their lives are easier than ever before.

We can't say whether the robots and self-driving cars that are coming will turn out as impactful as the Industrial Revolution, or as overhyped as the Y2K scare.

There are many things we can believe about the future:

Robots and AI should reduce the need for manual labor.
Human working hours should decrease to half days or even half years.
People should have more time for leisure and education.
People should not be poorer, as profits are made more easily.
The need for healthy activity and social life should be better recognized.
Technology should make it possible to live in low density communities.
It should be possible to work remotely while traveling.
Diverse interests will increase with access to more time and information.
The need for diverse activities and places will grow with the population.
Travel should continue to provide economic benefits for communities.

But those things could just as easily turn out false.

The potential downside is that:

Few industries will dominate.
Interests will continue to narrow.
The economy will be harder than ever for small businesses.
People will struggle more to keep their cultural traditions alive.
Lack of interests and sedentary living will increase poor health.
Health care costs and lack of access to heath care will rise.
Lack of opportunity and optimism will increase social problems.

Hopefully, we will be proactive and create the future we want - one that's bright rather than bleak.

About the Mission, Principles and Goals

More of the organization's plans and priorities are described below.

The long season for hiking on the trail

MZTA not only sees the trail being integral in a plan of national recreation and education priorities, and useful for visitors and local economies, but many aspects of it will be operational very soon. A general timeline is being developed.

Link Trail A (LTA) Auto - To be described in 2018
     Tour companies will be encouraged to use the resources in 2019.

Link Trail B (LTB) Bike - To be described in 2019
     A multi-stage competitive bike tour will be explored in 2020.

Link Trail C (LTC) Hike - To be described in 2020
     As many as 650 miles of utilized sections currently exist.
     Additional sections will be in practical use as early as 2019.
     Solutions to barriers and continual improvements will follow.

While describing and marking the trail is important, smartphone and GPS technology, along with improved use of solar power, has made it possible to have an entirely virtually-marked trail, though blazes and other signage may be important considerations.

Beautiful places to relax and work

For people who may be able to work from anywhere, the potential to follow trails, visit parks and relax in fantastic places they care about could be limitless.

Traditional activities may be preserved

People may be able to preserve their traditions with even greater dedication, provided of course, that others have time to enjoy them and and means to offer support. MZTA believes this is an important aspect for the Link Trail to support.

Quality of life may be enhanced

A workforce with fewer constraints will have time to pursue their interests and live higher quality lives, while enjoying support for their talents and services. MZTA believes this, too, is an important aspect for the Link Trail to support.

Places may be better utilized and preserved

The future may provide better opportunity to preserve historic and aesthetic places by increasing visitation and utilization of them, as well as better distribution of visitors to parks and historic places. People with limited opportunity to travel tend to focus their vacations on only the top-ranked parks, rather than visit many of the less-traveled and underutilized parks that comparable benefits.

Just a reminder: As a non-profit organization, camp and travel programs are not planned or intended to be commercial tours. While some may help the organization generate revenue for key programs through donations, most are expected to be offered at-cost for organization members to ensure that the benefits of the mission and goals are extended to its members. MZTA members are invited and needed to be involved in planning.

Related photo galleries are linked below.

 -National Cultural Trail
 -Travel Information
 -Camp Information
 -Chapter Organizations

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