A message from the PCTA’s Executive Director and CEO about the election

Dear friends of the Pacific Crest Trail,

The national election of 2016 is finally behind us. We have a new president, and the political landscape could not be more different than it was this time last year.

Depending on how you voted, you are either suffering great despair or believe that a long-overdue change of direction has finally arrived, saving America from the brink. Extreme? Perhaps. But that’s what happens in a nation as deeply divided as ours. It’s no secret that the state of our national politics is polarized. But how we respond in the face of that is important.

Gone for now, it seems, are the days when moderate viewpoints win out, respectful debates are the norm and friendly compromises happen regularly. That’s true, at least, on the national political stage. It shouldn’t be that way. And it doesn’t have to. The Pacific Crest Trail is the perfect example.

Regardless of whether you voted red or blue, I believe nothing has changed in our collective mission to protect, preserve and promote the PCT. Support for the trail and the Pacific Crest Trail Association comes from all political facets in all 50 states. I meet throughout the year with many of you — members, donors, partners and volunteers — and while your politics and other viewpoints certainly vary, your support for the trail is unwavering. The trail needs all of us. It has no political ideology. As a community of ardent trail lovers, we are most successful when our voices are heard in unison — every one —fighting for what we believe in.

The Pacific Crest Trail in Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon. Photo by Kevin Parisi

The Pacific Crest Trail in Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon. Photo by Kevin Parisi

Remember, we also were deeply divided as a country when President Barack Obama took office back in 2008. However, our mission to care for the trail didn’t change then and it hasn’t changed in the eight years since. We remained sharp and vigilant as we worked with state and federal land managers to ensure that they kept the PCT in mind as they considered new roads, timber harvests or energy development projects. We advocated for the PCT with members of Congress to ensure funding for trail maintenance and land protection. None of that changes because we elected a new president, and it never should. We must always remain steadfast in our mission to take care of the PCT and be its vocal defenders when threats arise.

Recent studies and economic indicators, such as spending patterns, show us that there is overwhelming public support for places like the Pacific Crest Trail and the experiences they provide to people from all walks of life. Like I said, I meet a lot of you in my travels. The bipartisan support you bring to the PCT demonstrates that finding common ground is not only possible, it’s joyful, productive and embodies what our country is all about.

Sure, we all should be concerned about our nation’s deep divisions given how forcefully they rose to the surface during the election. Each of us must ensure that we are living up to the grand ideals of our nation’s founders. There’s still no telling where the Trump administration will take us in terms of federal land use, funding levels for federal agencies or support for our recreational resources. But that uncertainty is nothing new. We never know from year to year, regardless of who is in office. We only know that we cannot turn away for a second. The trail needs us.

In the coming months, we will have a much better sense of what to expect from Congress and our new president. We will respond as we always do, thoughtfully, loudly and in unison, with the best interest of the Pacific Crest Trail at heart. I am thankful to have each of you on the team. We have much work to do and you all are a big part of it. That has always been true. And it always will be, regardless of any election.

Thank you for your continuing support of our cause to protect, preserve and promote the PCT.


Liz Bergeron

PCTA Executive Director and CEO

Author: Liz Bergeron

Liz Bergeron has served as the Executive Director and CEO of the Pacific Crest Trail Association since 2001. When she’s not working diligently to protect, preserve and promote the PCT, you may find her taking long walks in her neighborhood, day hiking on a local trail or introducing new hikers to the PCT.