Leading trails advocate stepping down | SierraSun.com

Leading trails advocate stepping down

Greyson HowardLeigh Fitzpatrick, executive director for the Truckee Trails Foundation, stands at a Truckee trailhead. Fitzpatrick will step down by Sept. 15.

The Truckee Trails Foundation is looking for a new trails champion to fill some big hiking boots.

Leigh Fitzpatrick, the foundation’s executive director, will step down this summer to focus on his family, leaving a big hole in the trail advocacy group. The foundation’s board of directors is reviewing applications to fill the role, and Fitzpatrick will remain on the board after his resignation.

“I can’t say enough about Leigh as an ambassador for trails, he has absolutely set the bar,” said board Director Gavin Ball. “He was instrumental in the evolution of the Truckee Trails Foundation.”

Ball said Fitzpatrick was in charge of identifying and implementing the foundation’s projects, and went above and beyond his role, accomplishing a great deal in his time as executive director.

Fitzpatrick arrived in 2003.

Truckee Public Works Director Dan Wilkins said Fitzpatrick has been instrumental in many of the town’s trail projects, as well as the town’s overall policy on trails and bikeways.

“He was very active in the update to the trails and bikeways master plan,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins said Fitzpatrick was well equipped for the job.

“He is a very articulate and very diplomatic individual, which has served him well in the foundation’s goal to build partnerships with the town and other entities,” Wilkins said.

But Fitzpatrick, who will step down by Sept. 15 to be a full-time father, is optimistic about the Truckee Trails Foundation’s future.

“We have a great, talented pool of about eight to 10 applicants, with really amazing skill-sets not only in trails, but in planning and political processes,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m excited because I think some of the applicants could take us to a whole new level.”

He said the nonprofit group will continue to grow as a trails advocacy group, which he said is probably its most important role.

Focusing on working with both the town and new developments to bring new trails online will also be an area the foundation continues to focus on, Fitzpatrick said.

“Along with that, we will continue to look for other opportunities for creating consistent and large funding sources,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said he would also like to see more involvement from Truckee Trails in pushing a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly project through at the Mousehole, sooner rather than later.

After the recent Truckee Trails and Bikeways Master Plan update, the group has started looking at trails no other groups have taken ownership of, and plans are in the works in the Armstrong Tract/Tahoe Donner area, as well as up in Glenshire, Fitzpatrick said.

And bringing Truckee Trails into the digital world, Fitzpatrick said plans are under way to create an online map and database of trails, with information on where they stand in planning, construction, or completion.

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