Trail Tracks e-Newsletter
January 2011

Trail Tracks is the monthly e-Newsletter from American Trails. Check the topics below for links to the world's most comprehensive online source for planning, designing, building, funding, managing, enhancing, and supporting trails and greenways.

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Transportation Secretary LaHood cites benefits of bicycle infrastructure

A recent study argues that pedestrian and bicycle projects create more jobs than road upgrades or resurfacing, and the CDC states 67% of Americans support street design that increases physical activity. "Putting the two studies together creates a powerful argument for continuing the Department of Transportation's support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects," said LaHood. "Even as these investments increase mobility, they also generate economic growth. And, people are demanding them for their communities." Read more on reauthorization of federal trails and transportation funding...

Interior Secretary Salazar signs BLM Wild Lands designation order

Secretarial Order 3310 gives the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) immediate authority to "designate appropriate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as 'Wild Lands' and to manage them to protect their wilderness values." The new order will spur the BLM to review up to 220 million acres of federal land not currently designated as Wilderness, and possibly apply the new "Wild Lands" designation which has similar use restrictions. Read more and link to opinion articles...

See 180 pictures entered in National Recreation Trail Photo Contest

American Trails sponsors an annual contest for photographs of designated National Recreation Trails across the country. We'll be reviewing the entries and announcing the winners in the February Trail Tracks. The goal is to highlight the diversity of the NRTs and to make more Americans familiar with these great trails. Start with Gallery 1 and view all the entries in the National Recreation Trails Photo Contest...

Start the new year right: support the work of American Trails

Help keep American Trails working for your interests in 2011! Help us provide the great information and support you and the nationwide trails community need. Make a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more or join American Trails, and in appreciation for your support, Trail Tales, a great book of trail poetry, is our gift to you! Make your voice heard— it's easy to donate...

Trails funding and legislation: learn what Congress is doing

American Trails “SUPPORTING TRAILS” pages provide the facts on current issues and debates and the ongoing efforts of American Trails to continue its 20 years of support for positive policies and funding for trails and greenways. Please join our efforts to document the value of trails and bicycle/pedestrian facilities as transportation infrastructure, and be an active and positive voice in the reauthorization process, economic stimulus proposals, and Federal land management agency budgets. We continuously add news and action items to these pages. Check back often and forward this link on through your networks…


Help get others involved in the fight to save trails funding

Alaska Trails sent a very effective message urging grassroots support for saving the Recreational Trails Program. They are telling supporters "What is the RTP and why is it important," "The threat to trails funding," and "How you can fight for the RTP." Use this concise summary with some project examples from your own state, and pass it on. It's up to all of us to shout out our support for funding for trails, greenways, open space, and outdoor recreation! Read the message from Alaska Trails and more about how you can support RTP funding...


Beneficial Designs reports on accessible trails technology

Beneficial Designs works for accessible trails and outdoor recreation, with a goal of universal access through research, design, and education. The annual report notes progress on projects from Trail Access Information to wheelchair technology. Peter Axelson, founder of Beneficial Designs, said "We are developing new technologies with USDA and FHWA government-funded research and development that will improve the efficiency of conducting assessments of trails and public rights-of-ways." See the full report…

$23 million ARRA grant will fund Philadelphia-area bike/ped links

The GREAT-PA/NJ (Generating Recovery by Enhancing Active Transportation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey) project will build 10 urban street trail segments to connect a bicycle and pedestrian network in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. “Connecting cities gives people access to employment, schools, hospitals and recreation,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This Recovery Act money will provide transportation options for people in these cities and surrounding areas and create jobs in the process.” Read more…

Informal trail system along Milwaukee River addressed in new plan

Paths carved along the river and adjacent bluffs lack any formal designation, direction, or legal authority, but attract a surprisingly large group of users, according to a trail use survey conducted by the Milwaukee River Greenway Coalition. More than 400 respondents responded to a survey that will guide the coalition as it develops the rough, unmarked paths that now snake along the river into a 13-mile loop with designated uses and fewer conflicts. Read more…

MD Metro line to run underground— with accompanying bike path?

Some Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents, who hope a proposed Metro line from New Carrollton to Bethesda (along Wisconsin Avenue) and its accompanying underground bike path, fear that won't happen due to cost and engineering challenges. The 1,000-foot tunnel near East-West Highway is proposed to accommodate rail cars and part of a 4.5-mile bicycle trail between downtown Bethesda and the Silver Spring transit center. Read more…

Iowa trail aims at TIGER, misses, but scores REAP grant

Hopes, dreams, and plans are for a trail network from Coralville through Tiffin, to Oxford and Amana, IA. To help finance the endeavor, the county applied for a TIGER II grant, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. When that was denied, the Johnson County Conservation Board applied for, and received, $512,642 from Iowa Natural Resources Commission out of the Resource Enhancement and Protection fund. "We now have a plan, estimates, alignment and we will all seek additional funding opportunities," said County Supervisor Janelle Rettig. Read more…


Irvine Ranch trail system traverses designated Natural Landmarks

State-of-the-art bridges, gates, single track trails, and wayfinding signage are all features of the world-class trail systems on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. The land has been designated a Natural Landmark by both the State of California and the U.S. Department of Interior in recognition of its exceptional biological and geological value. Beyond its natural beauty and abundance, the area has been meticulously stewarded as a place for people to connect with nature through a variety of trails that accommodate many different user groups. Read the full story with photos...

Economic analysis of 2008 New York Trail User Surveys

Surveys were undertaken on eight shared-use trails during the summer of 2008. The surveys were undertaken in partnership with the trail stewards who care for these various trails. The survey data leads to conclusions about who uses these trails, where trail patrons come from, how far they travel to a trail, how far they travel on a trail, what they spend and on what items. With this information in hand, combined with estimates of overall trail use, some estimates of overall trail economic impacts to communities and the state can be made. Read more and see photos…

A vision for public art along the Legacy Trail in Lexington, KY

Tthe Legacy Trail will be a place for the community to learn about its culture, environment, and heritage. As people pass through this landscape, its features, history, and processes should be elucidated by the artworks sited along the trail. As planning for the public art began, another powerful reason emerged: Lexington is looking for opportunities to integrate the work of artists, particularly those from the Bluegrass region, into its public realm. Read more and download plans for art and trail development…

Student Conservation Association fields 1,272 trail jobs for youth

In just one summer, the Student Conservation Association brought kids and trails together on 103 crews in 18 cities and major metropolitan areas across the nation. These SCA crews (with a total of 1,272 high school age members) restored 329,392 feet of trail at 185 project sites in city and county parks. An additional 57,641 feet of new trail was created by these kids. SCA’s community programs are designed to engage urban high school at-risk students through hands-on conservation service in the hopes of providing a nurturing environment for the development of life and career skills. Read more and see photos…

Featured National Recreation Trail: Youghiogheny River Trail

The scenic Youghiogheny Gorge is one of the great natural and commercial routes through Pennsylvania's rugged Allegheny Mountains. In 1986 the panoramic trail was converted from an old abandoned rail line into 27-miles of trail through Ohiopyle State Park and is part of the Great Allegheny Passage that connects Pittsburgh, PA, and Cumberland, MD. Read more and see photos…


Over 40 National Trails Symposium presentations now available online

We are making available many of the dozens of presentations from the recent American Trails National Symposium. See workshop programs from many different topics, which can be downloaded as PDF files made from the original PowerPoint slide shows. See presentation summaries and links to files…

Tread Trainer program empowers teachers of outdoor ethics

Tread Lightly! will offer courses in several locations this spring. The Tread Trainer program is designed to train participants in innovative, practical methods of spreading outdoor ethics to the public with a curriculum specifically focused on motorized and mechanized recreation. The course helps students practice different communication techniques, discuss issues facing outdoor recreation, and network with others who want to promote responsible recreation. Tread Trainers will be equipped to effectively present the Tread Lightly! message to the public. Read more about the Tread Trainer courses...

Find workshops and training opportunities for trail skills across America

The National Trails Training Partnership is an effort by trails advocates to improve opportunities for training for the nationwide trails community. A wide variety of training is available for volunteers and professionals working to develop trails of all kinds. American Trails is working with agencies and organizations across America to promote trail related training. See details on these and many more opportunities for training on trails and greenways topics in the Online Training Calendar...

Early spring 2011 training, workshops, and conferences; see details at

  • February 10-13 ~ North American Trail Ride Conference • Nashville, TN
  • February 12-17 ~ Hike-the-Hill event • Washington, DC
  • February 13-16 ~ 2011 Annual Corps Forum • Washington, DC
  • February 22 ~ Bike Maryland Annual Bicycle Symposium • Annapolis, MD
  • February 22-23 ~ Tread Lightly! Master Tread Trainer Course • Salt Lake City, UT
  • February 22-24 ~ Active Living Research Conference • San Diego, CA
  • February 26, 2011 ~ New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit • Trenton, NJ
  • February 25-27 ~ Alabama Hiking Conference • Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, AL
  • February 26 ~ Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer Course • Grapevine, TX
  • March 8-10 ~ National Bike Summit • Washington, DC
  • March 12 ~ Volunteer Trail Crew Training - Trail Alignment Skills • Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
  • March 13-18 ~ Biennial Trailbuilders Conference • Asheville, NC

Photos of steel trail bridges on shared-use urban pathways

One of the most common structures needed along typical multiple-use trails is the steel, prefab bridge. Bridges must be low-maintenance, indestructible, and provide a smooth continuation of the pathway over streams, wetlands, and canals. See photos of a variety of these bridges in different parts of the country. Most are standard designs from several manufacturers. These bridges are built off site and installed on shared-use pathways used by bicyclists and pedestrians. Read more and see photo gallery…

Using crushed rock to improve trail drainage and stability

Sammy Beck, Boy Scout Troop 207 of Portsmouth, VA tells about his repair project for the Lake Ballard Trail. As the "main highway" at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, the trail was once a high-traffic walking trail until a Nor' Easter in 2009 wiped out a section of trail. The resulting frequent flooding of the area became a major inconvenience to staff as well as visitors. The project goal was to mobilize volunteers and machinery to fill in the damaged part of the trail with finely crushed stone. Read more and see photos…

Greenway and park districts cooperate across river and state lines

The McKinley Bridge Bikeway and Trestle in St. Louis earned a 2009 American Council of Engineering Excellence Award for the HNTB Corporation. The Great Rivers Greenway District developed the innovative 1.25-mile bicycle and pedestrian connection in cooperation with several state and local agencies. The adaptive reuse of this former railroad trestle distinguishes this as only the third city in the world, after the High Line in New York City and the Promenade Plantée in Paris, to convert an elevated railroad viaduct into a trail corridor. Read more and see photos…

Peninsula State Park "Like to Hike" Program encourages health

Wisconsin's goal is to reduce the number of people who are overweight (60% over age 20 are overweight) or at risk of becoming obese. Outdoor recreation is a way to meet this goal. Eighty-five percent of Wisconsinites walk for pleasure. Forty-nine percent bike. Since 2002, Peninsula State Park has promoted healthy outdoor recreation through the "Like to Hike" program. The program is modeled on a program offered in Lake County, IL. Engaging park visitors in low environmental impact, land based recreation is the program's primary goal. Read more…

Delaware Trail Spinners donate time and money to trail improvements

This organization of dedicated volunteers and advocates has effective and productive relationships with Delaware State Parks and local park managers. Their commitment to community service benefits all trail users, and fulfilled manpower gaps within the agencies, and saved precious public resources. Going far beyond trail work, the Delaware Trail Spinners offers educational outreach to the region. Spinners also assist the State Trail Crew with closing social trails and re-naturalizing scarred areas. Read more and see diagrams…

Read more articles, studies, and resources…


Help American Trails fight for funding and support for trails

Now is a great time to join American Trails to help us advocate for trails and greenways of every kind. With your help, we can increase funding for trails, keep more trails open, and improve the health and well being of Americans of all ages and abilities. Please help us continue to serve you and the trails community by enlisting a new member or renewing your own membership today. Give the gift that makes a difference ~ an American Trails membership…


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Photo at top: City Park, Denver, CO, Dec. 2010 (photo by Stuart Macdonald)

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Trail Tracks e-Newsletter
January 2011