The Connected Communities Project aims to stimulate the economies of rural communities by improving trail access and connectivity and encouraging diverse user types to explore and recreate on public lands by linking 15 mountain towns by trails.

The Connected Communities Project is a visionary effort led in partnership by federal land managers, SBTS, and community partners to connect 15 mountain towns for economic prosperity through outdoor recreation—an $887 billion industry. It will create a vision for a recreation-focused lifestyle through community investment, shared stewardship, economic opportunity, and important new local jobs, all benefiting economically disadvantaged communities in California’s Plumas, Sierra, Butte, Lassen, and Nevada Counties, as well as Washoe County, Nevada. Our work will include planning, environmental review, trail creation, and maintenance of trails. The project’s intent is to diversify recreation throughout the region and provide economic stability, as well as support fire recovery and prevention efforts. This project will create a learning landscape for outdoor and environmental education programs that include youth employment and volunteer participation. Our visionary goal is to establish a multi-use signature route highlighting these communities, which we are calling the Lost Sierra Route.

Project Overview

The Connected Communities Project includes four main components:

The Connected Communities Project includes four main components:

  1. Identify ideal trail corridors for a singletrack trail network to connect communities across the region and outline a signature route through the region dubbed the Lost Sierra Route
  2. Conceptualize capital improvement projects required  to support the trail network such as trailhead infrastructure
  3. Highlight Recreation Zones as areas near communities that warrant additional planning and development
  4. Develop desired conditions for fuels reduction and restoration within future project planning areas
Connected Communities Connecting Communities through Trails

The Connected Communities Project area is located in northern California and western Nevada spanning:

The Connected Communities Project can be broken into four phases:

  1. Planning — Trails Master Plan development (map)
  2. Environmental Review — compliance with NEPA and CEQA to seek project approval
  3. Construction — trail and capital improvement development projects
  4. Maintenance — annual and long term maintenance

Project Details Graphic (PDF)

Connected Communities Project Timeline
Connected Communities 2023 Progress Map

Connected Communities Partner Acknowledgement

While this project would not be possible without the critical partnership from federal land managers and continued community-member support, financial backing is also critical to the project’s success. To date, the project has been primarily funded by Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Resilient Sierra Nevada Communities and Vibrant Recreation and Tourism programs, but has also received financial support from Friesen Foundation, California Off-Highway Vehicle Division grants, Outdoor Industry partners, and matching funds brought by SBTS volunteers and donors.

The list of Connected Communities partners is extensive and varied, spanning from local elected officials to government agencies and municipalities including:

Economic Benefits

Recreation on public lands currently represents the greatest economic and cultural opportunity for our rural communities. In the United States, Outdoor Recreation is an $887 billion industry with Trail Sports accounting for $201 billion. Trails on public lands are proven to create local employment, attract visitors and new businesses, and improve the health and economy of mountain communities.

Annual Consumer Spending graph
Recreation is an Economic Powerhouse! Click to Enlarge
Direct Impact of the Outdoor Recreation Economy graph
Click to Enlarge

Get Involved

All SBTS activities are focused on supporting the local economy and Connected Communities Project therefore ways to get involved are varied:

Mt. Hough Trail to Quincy
The Mt. Hough Trail, built by Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, in partnership with Plumas National Forest, navigates to the town of Quincy in the valley below

Trail Crew building trail