Users of the Pole Mountain trail system will meet in Laramie next week to discuss ways of improving the trails at a public charrette hosted by Wyoming Pathways and the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute.

The charrette -- an intensive planning session -- will be held Friday, August 12 in the Kenny Sailors Gym at the Laramie Plains Civic Center. All non-motorized users are invited.

The main planning session will run from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. with a working lunch, followed by an evening open house session from 6-7:30 p.m. structured to allow trail users to review and comment on the day's work.

"It's really trying to gather the local knowledge about Pole Mountain, the recreational opportunities there," says Tim Young, executive director of Wyoming Pathways. "And kind of do an assessment with what type of trails are there now: are there any issues with the trails? Were there maybe some maintenance needed?"

"We know that the Forest Service has had challenges with their funding levels to help support trail maintenance," Young continues. "And increasingly the burden falls on the local communities to create partnerships and to work with the Forest Service to try to provide those recreational trails that we use in all seasons."

A Forest Service representative will attend the meeting to listen and answer questions about land management.

"We have no projects planned or any preconceived ideas about what might come out of this discussion," says Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero. "While this is not a decision-making meeting, the Forest Service is always interested to hear from the public."

Steve Smutko of the UW Ruckelshaus Institute says given the Forest Service's budget situation, the meeting will likely result in community members forming partnerships to maintain trails in coordination with the Forest Service.

"Pole Mountain is our backyard," says Smutko. "It's the closest public land to Laramie and well-used by UW faculty, students and locals. This is an important meeting to develop a vision for the future of sustainable trails on Pole Mountain, and the public can really help by participating."