On the Path of Excellence: American Trails' National Trails Awards Program honors people and programs at the 20th American Trails National Symposium. The awards celebration was held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nov. 16, 2010.
The Trail Advocacy award is given to an individual that has demonstrated successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.
Charles Martin - NEW HAMPSHIRE
The New Hampshire Bureau of Trails proudly nominates Charles F. Martin for the 2010 American Trails, Trail Advocacy Award. The Bureau of Trails has been working closely with Charles for over five years and in that time he has made great strides in the trails community.
Charles is very passionate about trails, but his true love is Rail Trails. He recognized there was no comprehensive information about rail trails in New Hampshire, so he took it upon himself to write a book about the rail trails in the state (New Hampshire Rail Trails) that are available to the public to recreate on. Although he didn’t need to, he asked the Bureau of Trails to review his book since many of the rail trails in New Hampshire are state owned. He did a great job outlining exactly what the public would be asking about when looking for a local rail trail.
The Northern Rail Trail in Merrimack County is another product of Charles’ hard work. This former rail bed is over 50 miles in length total with approximately 25 miles in Merrimack County. With his help, over 10 miles of the trail has been upgraded by taking the ballast and ties off the trail, and making it a premier four season multi-use trail. Charles is an invaluable partner to the State of NH, as he assists with maintenance and manages the Recreational Trails Program grants used to upgrade the trail.
In addition to writing a book and being active in his own club, he also started an advocacy organization, the NH Rail Trails Coalition, which includes clubs, organizations, agencies and others dedicated to the protection, development and use of rail trails throughout New Hampshire. This organization has grown tremendously and provides a place for all trail groups and organizations to network and tap into the collective knowledge base of the group to expand recreational use and development of rail trails in the state. In addition to the Northern Rail Trail, his other big project is the development of the Granite State Rail Trail, which would include connecting current rail trails from Lebanon, NH to the Massachusetts border (approximately 100 miles). Although there are many road blocks which would seem to make this trail impossible, Charles plugs away at them, celebrating each small victory.
Charles is a great asset to the New Hampshire trails community. If not for his love and dedication for rail trails, many of them would be forgotten; overgrown and falling apart. On any given day, you could find Charles riding his bike along the Northern Rail Trail, cleaning out a plugged culvert, or working with state, local or private officials to create more public rail trail opportunities.
More about trails in the Chattanooga area:
Information from the 2008 Symposium in Little Rock, AR:
2008 Sponsors and Exhibitors:
2008 Awards and volunteers:
How to attend:
Past and future of the National Trails Symposium: