The GTPA was formed out of a vision that began in 1991 when founder Steve Myers took a trip from Minnesota to Wyoming. On the way, he was struck by the beauty of the open spaces west of the Missouri River. He wanted a way to experience this landscape more fully. Not long after, the seed of an idea for the Great Plains Trail was planted.
The mission of the GPTA is to establish, develop, preserve and promote a long-distance, public, non-motorized trail running north/south through the Great Plains region of North America for the purposes of recreation, conservation, education, and inspiration.
The vision of the GPTA is to connect and inspire people, through their own direct experience on the trail, with the beauty, history, weather, and wildlife of the Great Plains.
The GPTA has a desire to promote the grasslands of the Great Plains as an important ecological region of the world. We also work in the spirit of conservation to help protect this region. The GPTA is also a strong advocate for non-motorized trails and recreation.
By combining these two interests, we seek to create a new kind of recreation experience for people to enjoy, and by extension, a place people will want to preserve. In this process, we also hope to help develop a more diverse and vibrant economy for the people who live in the Great Plains region.
Anthony J. (“Tony”) Dzik is a Professor of Geography at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio where he teaches Regional, Physical, and Medical Geography. He has researched and lectured about the Great Plains off and on for 37 years. He is the author Not That Flat, a book on the physical geography of selected Great Plains landscapes, and co-author (with his son) of Badlands of the American West, a general interest book on badlands.
Teresa Martinez has 25 years of experience in National Scenic Trails management with the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail. As a Board member with the Partnership for the National Trails System, she also helps guide the vision for the National Trails System as a whole. Teresa holds an M.S. degree in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. She is an avid outdoor adventurer, and is currently working with the newly formed Continental Divide Trail Coalition.
Robert Pahre is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana where he teaches Environmental Policy, and the Politics of the National Parks. Though a native of the forests and mountains of Washington State, Robert’s years living in Illinois have taught him to appreciate the prairies and the Great Plains. He is currently writing a book about the various National Park units found in the Great Plains.
Kevin Purdy is a retired teacher, active travel tour leader, and the founder of Trailsnet.com. Growing up in northwest Montana, Kevin spent many weekends hiking and backpacking in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area. These days he enjoys traveling throughout the United States, touring as many trails as possible and reporting his findings on the Trailsnet website.
Steve Myers has almost 20 years of experience as an educator. He has worked as an outdoor science school instructor, an interpretive river guide, and a classroom as well as mentor teacher. Steve grew up in Minnesota and learned to love the Great Plains during his many travels through them on the way to spend his summers in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Steve is an avid hiker and biker, as well as a dedicated student of the natural and human history of the Great Plains. He is the founder of GPTA and the author of the Great Plains Trail Blog.
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