State Award

The State Awards recognize individuals who have made compelling and significant contributions to the trails movement in their home states.


Ohio: Ralph Protano

In 2012, Ralph was hired by Ohio’s Cleveland Metroparks to start up a new Trails Division.

In the last couple years Ralph's efforts have come to fruition, yielding artistic and sustainable trail design and a tiered volunteer program where volunteers can advance according to their level of interest.

Ralph believes in creating the lowest possible natural resource impact and the best possible user enjoyment by building trails in harmony with the existing terrain. Trails are made from natural materials, blend with the environment, and last for generations. Ralph likes to point out, there are no straight lines in nature. His trails meander with the terrain, creating a pleasing user experience and blending the built environment into the natural one.

In 2015, Ralph further expanded his knowledge of conservation by earning a master’s degree in Natural Resources while working full-time.

Cleveland Metroparks constantly strives to balance recreation with conservation. Ralph is uniquely qualified as a trails designer to strike this balance through his sustainable designs, environmental ethic, and work with user groups to understand their preferences.

808 views • posted 01/10/2018