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Still Passionate After All These Years

Dear Friend of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,

Recently I was having breakfast with a friend who asked an interesting question: "With Rails-to-Trails Conservancy celebrating its 20th anniversary, has RTC lost any of the passion that drives a brand-new organization?"

I didn't have to think twice. "Not in the slightest," I answered.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has been hugely successful since 1986. There are now nearly 13,400 miles of rail-trails used by tens of millions of people every year. That success has bred even more passion for our mission, not complacency.

RTC's continued vitality is symbolized by the new logo that we've unveiled in the latest issue of our magazine—the Fall 2006 issue of Rails to Trails. Its fresh, contemporary look represents our relentless vigor as we look toward our next 20 years.

This continued passion for RTC and our movement is also shared by our members. Bill Weidenfeller, a 62-year-old RTC member from Florida, has been bicycling with a team of riders across America since June 18. Their mission: to raise money and awareness for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Their spirit and dedication is overwhelming and when "Team RTC" touches their wheels in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Hampshire on August 7, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will be there cheering them on.

However, trail enthusiasts are not alone in holding strong, passionate feelings. The voices of a very small but vocal minority still incorrectly claim that rail-trails increase crime and reduce property values. With the continued support of you—our 100,000 members and supporters—we will respond with vigilance to these false assertions, presenting factual evidence that trails are an essential element of a healthy community.

As my friend and I finished our breakfast that morning, he posed one final question: "What keeps the passion for rail-trails alive for you personally?"

This time I paused before I responded, a hundred good answers running through my head. But speaking from my heart—not my head—I said: "There is no way to describe the exhilaration I feel when I'm riding on a beautiful trail on a beautiful day. The only way I can explain it is to say that it feels like being a kid again."

Happy Trails!

Keith Laughlin
Fall 2006

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037