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Forest Service shares trail development expertise with Republic of Georgia

WASHINGTON, DC—Two Forest Service specialists and one volunteer are currently in the Republic of Georgia to share expertise on trails and recreation infrastructure with Georgian government counterparts and nongovernmental organization partners. Adam Barnett, recreation program manager, Red Rocks Ranger District, Coconino National Forest; Barth Hamberg, landscape architecture team leader, Tongass National Forest; and Bob Birkby, trails expert, trainer and volunteer traveler, are sharing expertise with local partners. Nature-based tourism has increased significantly in the Republic of Georgia in recent years, and partners in the country are interested in learning from the Forest Service’s experience as they expand recreation infrastructure throughout the country.

People studying a map.
Forest Service trails and recreation specialists learn about existing trail network in Georgia’s Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. Forest Service photo by Bella Gordon.
Group of people standing on a trail.
Forest Service specialists discuss trail design and maintenance for the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park with counterparts from the Republic of Georgia. Photo courtesy USAID–Tblilisi.

During the trip, the team is visiting a number of recreation sites with the goal of developing recommendations for future targeted site-specific interventions. The team is also conducting a two-day workshop on trail planning, design, building, and maintenance. The Forest Service’s recreation partners in Georgia include four government agencies: the Agency of Protected Areas, the National Forest Agency, Georgian National Tourism Agency and Tbilisi City Hall, as well as seven non-governmental organizations. 

These activities are being funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Forest Service, in partnership with USAID, has engaged in technical cooperation on natural resource management issues in the Republic of Georgia since 2011.

Distant shot of people hiking downhill in mountainous terrain.
Typical terrain in the Caucasus Mountains in the Republic of Georgia. Photo courtesy USAID–Tbilisi.
People standing in front of a selection of small dishes in an open structure. A chef stands by the outdoor grill.
Lunch preparation at a picnic area on a trail in the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. The picnic area is managed by the Sviana Rural Women’s Council, and hikers calling ahead can arrange for a freshly prepared meal. Forest Service photo by Bella Gordon.