We had a great conversation with Nancy Desmond of Cleveland Metroparks, who told us how trails had made a difference in her life and career. Nancy is Partnership & Planning Assistant with the park district:

“I’ve been a mountain biker and trail runner for years but I worked in park interpretation and education. I came from a history museum background, so didn’t think much about trails, I just used them.

“A few years back our park planner asked me to substitute for her presenting at the American Trails Symposium in Little Rock. Not knowing what to expect, I quickly discovered these trail folks were “my people”!  I’d never thought about trails as the asset they are, offering a thousand different experiences to a wide diversity of people.  Not many other things we do in this line of work serve so many people in so many positive ways.

“Since then, I moved from interpretation into planning at my organization, Cleveland Metroparks, and learned as much as I could about the art, science and culture of trails. I became a passionate advocate for all trails, but sustainable, natural surface trails in particular.

“Cleveland Metroparks owns 22,000 acres of parkland and forest, but did not put a priority on natural surface trails. It showed in an eroded, outdated trail system. But through the effort of many employees, the sustainable trails movement finally took hold!

“I recently coordinated the volunteers on a major mountain bike trail building effort here as our organization learns about sustainable trial building.  We used the student Conservation Corps leaders to help build the trail and train our staff and invited surrounding park districts to learn too. We decommissioned poorly designed trail and flagged nine miles of flowing single track for bikes, hikers and runners. We’re about to hire a trails coordinator to oversee all future trails projects and expect several more redesign and rehabilitation projects next year.

“Thanks American Trails for changing the course of my career and for the work you do to benefit all!”

Learn more about Cleveland Metroparks trails program…

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