We started 2021 by saying goodbye to one of our long-time Board members, Steve Charles, who has decided to term out of board service. During his time serving on the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation board, Steve was a never-ending source of knowledge, inspiration, and dedication to our community’s trails and parks. Although Steve is no longer on our board, we know he will remain a close friend and partner dedicated to providing outdoor opportunities in the Mat-Su. Steve has been and will continue to be, a superstar for trails and parks in Willow and around the Mat-Su. Thank you for everything, Steve! We’ll see you out on the trails in Willow!
We in Willow are so pleased that Steve Charles’s leadership and contributions to the work creating and maintaining trails within our area and within the borough at large are being recognized. We are glad that he was able to serve on the Board of the MatSu Trails and Parks Foundation (MSTPF), sharing his long earned expertise with the Foundation’s granted projects and then helping our local Willow groups to know about the Foundations opportunities and expectations. Steve has provided significant leadership here in Willow in trails development and more globally to the leadership of the community for many, many years.
He has been a long time member of the Willow Trails Committee, a standing committee of Willow Area Community Organization (WACO) which is recognized as this area’s community council. He assumed the chairmanship of the committee in 1999 and remains in that role today. His steadfast dedication attracted a significant number of trail volunteers to his committee, many of whom have dedicated time and energy to trails development and maintenance for many years. Every year the trail system receives further evolution and he is able to guide the direction and find funding successfully. He has become an expert on all aspect of trail acquisition, and what each trail will need to be a successful winter or summer trail. He championed the development of the two master plans that guide the ongoing direction for trails: The Willow Area Winter Trails Plan and the Willow Summer Trails Master Plan. Steve has developed an excellent website within the WACO website with not only the Willow trails highlighted but links to information about the trails of surrounding communities and many other important sites (www.waco-ak.org). Throughout his work, he has learned about and then led efforts to protect the historic role of trails in our area, and he works collaboratively with the Willow Historical and Wildlife Foundation to enhance our history. He most recently he has joined the Youth Forum, another standing committee of WACO whose current energies are predominantly dedicated to developing our 40 acre park. Within that group he is looked to for direction on the trails within the park and the knowledge of excellent vendors for the various projects underway. The quality of his leadership and the work of his team are evident in every season when the awesome trails of Willow are enjoyed and praised by many, not only from Willow, but those who come to Willow just to use the trails. We are proud to be a destination community for our trails.
In addition to his dedication to trails in Willow, Steve is also a long standing leader within the community. For many years, annually, he recruited members of the community who represented diverse groups and with diverse backgrounds to run for the WACO board. He was a very involved member in the 2 year process to create the Willow Area Community Comprehensive Plan, finalized in 2013. Steve has developed significant networking relationships with the leaders throughout the state and at every level of government that have any kind of work or funding around trails and he shares those contacts freely. He participates in every fund raising effort that WACO develops, taking on significant event leadership for our annual Willow Winter State Carnival. He is also a staunch supporter of the Library Association and has created outdoor activity events that support reading and the library. And last, Steve participates with our Recycling Committee’s efforts to help our residents to keep appropriate materials out of the landfill.
Thank you for honoring Steve’s work for the Foundation and for including his wonderful work within Willow for so many years.
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