Every summer, tens of thousands of people tramp around the hillsides and meadows near the Mount Roberts Tram's upper terminal. The Mount Roberts Stewards, a group designed to protect the area, wants to educate them.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night, the organization unveiled 11 laminated interpretive signs that now line the Alpine Loop trail and the cross higher up the mountain.
``We want people to know what they're looking at and hopefully, that knowledge will wet their appetite for more information,'' said Karen Beason, a Mount Roberts steward who spearheaded the project.
The signs, created by Southeast Discovery naturalists and artists Kathy Hocker and Richard Carstensen, provide maps, historical information and explanations of the plants, animals and geographical features that are visible from the trails.
``We think the signs will add a lot for the local people as educational material to share with their children. Plus, now the tourists will know more about the area,'' said Debra Gerrish, who provided historical research and photos for many of the signs.
The stewardship program, a committee of Trail Mix, also developed a ``trail and outdoor etiquette'' flyer that is available in five languages at several tourist locations in town.
Along with the educational flyers and the interpretive signs created by the volunteer organization, the state contributed 50 directional signs designed to keep people on the trails.
``Most people stay on the trail but it is a fragile environment so we're out here with sticks and twine to keep people heading in the right direction,'' Beason said.
Last year, the Mount Roberts Stewards, with help supplied by local Boy Scouts and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints youth groups, rerouted most of the trails by eliminating eroding switchbacks, said Beason.
``They were out here moving rocks and working with equipment that was almost bigger than they were. The trails really came out gorgeous,'' Beason said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
``We want to protect the alpine and keep it beautiful,'' she added. ``So all the people that come up here have the same experience that the first people who came up here had. Maybe even better.''
The Mount Roberts Stewards Sign Program was paid for by a $5,000 TRAAK grant, the Mount Roberts Tram, the city and the state.