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Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition

Our Founders Remembered

Coalition Board Members

Loras Gassmann - Treasurer

I was born in Eastern Iowa, near Dubuque, very close to the movie site for the Field of Dreams.   I worked for Georgia-Pacific and ended up in Olympia, WA.

In 1985 I took my first bike ride on a rail trail, it was in North East WI, Ahnapee State Trail.  I told my brother about the ride and he mentioned about a new group that was being founded, Rails-to-Trails.  I joined the organization, now I am one of their oldest members.

I moved to Washington State in 1992 and heard about the Foothills Trail and became a member.   I moved to Sumner, WA in 2006 and became involved in the group.

In 2009 I became the Treasurer of the organization, and continue to date.

I have been involved with the Trail activities, R2R, B&O, trail cleanup, purchasing items,  T-shirts, hats, etc.

I love the trail,  my favorite section is South Prairie to Buckley, I like the ride up the hill,  but really enjoy the ride down the hill.

Bryan Bowden - Secretary

Bryan Bowden worked for the National Park Service for 35 years.  He has a Master’s degree in Outdoor Recreation and worked in a variety of National Park Service ‘community assistance’ programs that help state and local governments and non-profits plan and implement their own conservation and recreation projects, including trails and greenways.

After retirement, Bryan joined the Board of the Foothills Trail Coalition and is currently serving his third term.  Bryan was also instrumental in the creation of two other trail advocacy organizations in Pierce County - the ForeverGreen Trails Council and the ‘Active Transportation’ Community of Interest. 

Board Members

Steve Brown

I've been involved with the Foothills Trail as a volunteer for over 30 years (over half my lifetime)

Lately, I have focused on county connections : Foothills Trail north to Sumner and then the Interurban; Yelm to Roy; and of course our favorite, from Mount Rainier to Tacoma using the R2R route.

I also have been spending a lot more time in the Carbon Canyon, which is everything above the town of Wilkeson. It is a great area for hiking, biking, fishing and camping. This is also the access to the NW corner of Mount Rainier National Park.

Dan Bucci

Dan is an avid mountain runner and trail enthusiast who firmly believes that the outdoors should be accessible to everyone. Dan’s involvement with the Foothills Coalition began in 2017 as he assisted with producing the Rainier to Ruston Relay, and B&O Half Marathon & 10K races which serve as fundraisers for the FTC. Dan joined the FTC board in 2020 to bring his energy to help the coalition in their mission to expand the trail network in Pierce County to provide a continuous, non-motorized trail from Mount Tahoma to Puget Sound. Dan firmly believes that safe, accessible trails are a key to promoting outdoors activities, which help the broader population stay fit, healthy and connected with the beauty that surrounds them in Western Washington.

John Downs

I joined the Coalition about the time I retired from the Air Force in 2001, becoming a board member shortly thereafter. Eight or nine years later I had the pleasure of serving as the Coalition President for two years.

It was a dynamic time with the growth of the R2R, plus the Coalition. We received the Pierce County Volunteer Group of the Year, award in 2008 at which time I was president. Many hands eagerly assisted in both events.

I moved away now, but I will always remember the friends I made through the Coalition.

Pat Johnson

It has been a great honor to be on the Board of Directors and I have lost track of how long I have been active in the Foothills Rails to Trails organization.  I grew up in Buckley and remember the trains coming through town.  When the railroad company decided it was no longer profitable to move freight by rail, they abandoned their right-of way.  The town doctor, Doc Tait, gathered a few people together such as Ernie Bay from Puyallup, Fred Hart of the Back Country Horsemen and Jan Walcott the Pierce County Parks Director at the time and the idea of a connected trail system connecting communities was a perfect use of this abandoned property.

The first section of the Foothills Trail was built in Buckley.  Doc Tait gathered volunteers together to clear the right-of-way and lay gravel.  Over time the City paved the trail with grant funding and donations.  It took over 25 years to get connected to the rest of the Foothills Trail in Pierce County but the wait was worth it!  Our next goal is to get the bridge across the White River to connect to King County and Enumclaw.

At the end of 2021 I retired from the position of Mayor for the City of Buckley.  I served the City as Mayor for 16 years and prior to that I was a Council member for 14 years.  During that 30 year period of time I lobbied heavily for trails before the County Council, the State Legislature and a few times in Washington, DC.  Trails like the Foothills Trail are safe pedestrian corridors that connect communities and now are becoming tourist attractions for both walkers and cyclist.

We must continue to keep the Foothills Trail in front of our elected officials and letting them know what the benefits are.  In Buckley, the “Trail” is the new Main Street!

John Peachey

Foothills Trails to trails Coalition board member longtime resident of Puyallup currently a member of Puyallup Friends of the Riverwalk and the Puyallup Parks and Recreation citizen advisory board. During the week you can find me using the Puyallup River walk trail occasionally biking the trail onto Orting. The Coalition provides a community of active like mined people who build support trail maintenance and growth they have a proven track record of achievement and success with many of followers and membership. The Coalition is a great group of people to work and be involved with.

Don Rich

I was introduced to the Foothills Trail and Coalition by Jerry Larsen. Yep, I've been around for a while. Joined many work parties led by a fine group dedicated leaders and organizers, many of which we miss dearly. My wife Janet & I will hopefully be back on the trails on our bikes when the weather breaks.

John Selby

I fell in love with trails when I worked on trail crews in the Olympic National Park during my college summers.  As a runner and cyclist I have sought out trails all over the country.  I have hiked nearly all the trails in Mt. Rainier National Park and I think I have run all the trails in Pierce County.  Each quarter I publish an article in the Trail Line News called “How well do you know your Pierce County trails?”  The first person to correctly guess the location of a trail photo wins a year’s membership in the Coalition.  I have a MS in Mechanical Engineering and have worked at the Applied Physics Lab at the U of W, Tunisia’s National Gas and Electric Company while serving in the Peace Corps in the 70’s, and the Weyerhaeuser Company Research and Development for 30 years all over the US.  I joined the Foothills Trail Coalition in the late 90’s at the urging of Ernie Bay, soon became a board member and founded the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay in 2003.  It has been a true pleasure to be a part of this organization. 

Felicia Shaviri

Felicia Shaviri has been a runner for more than 30 years thanks to a former co-worker who introduced her to the sport. Felicia has expanded her love of running to triathlons and obstacle racing events and is consist with encouraging others to join her. Felicia brings her love of running to the Foothills Coalition hoping to advance the development of a trail network to serve a broad spectrum of communities in Pierce County.

Felicia is a Professional Fitness/Wellness Coach, Certified Life Coach, Best Selling International Author.

John Warhol

I have been a Foothills Coalition member for several years now. I have enjoyed the fact that there is a group of people that have a passion of establishing trails that all of us can use.
I have also enjoyed working on maintaining the trails that you can enjoy.

Executive Director (Interim)

Dennis Brooke

Dennis has taken a leave of absence from his role as a board member to serve as the interim executive director until the coalition hires a permanent direct.

Dennis and his wife, Laurie, have been riding the Foothills Trail since the mid-90's, including exploring unfinished sections by bushwhacking. They have been excited to see the network evolve over the decades. He is now engaged in major upgrades of the coalition membership management and other systems. This will support better engagement with members and other supporters, and automate many manual processes. 

He spent seven years as an Air Force officer with the balance of his career working as an IT program manager and executive. He and Laurie are long distance hikers and travelers who write about their experiences at www.worldrovers.com 

The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 192; Puyallup WA 98371-0021

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