532 views • posted 01/16/2018 • updated 04/10/2019

Trail Advocacy

This award is given in recognition of successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.


Pennsylvania: David Buck

David Buck serves as the Greenways and Water Trail Coordinator for the Endless Mountains Heritage Region, Inc. (EMHR).

David began working for EMHR as coordinator for Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and Water Trail activities on the Susquehanna River North Branch in 2006. His primary responsibilities include organizing outreach and educational meetings, establishing and managing a regional water trail committee, coordinating river and stream cleanups and related stewardship activities, coordinating the North Branch Water Trail map & guide and safety and orientation signage, and providing technical assistance to communities, greenway and conservation organizations, and related partners.

He does outstanding work for the Susquehanna River North Branch Water Trail and its integration with planned and developing water trails on other section of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and in New York, as well as other water and land trails in our region. He volunteers much in the way of time and resources beyond his designated responsibilities to enhance the water trail, attract people to it, and advocate for it.

David is constantly finding new ways to integrate the river with communities (river and heritage festivals, sojourn visits), with the Chesapeake Bay, with arts (singer songwriters, artists focusing upon river), with academic endeavors (research and documentation for proposal on Susquehanna River as a connector trail of the John Smith Historic Trail) and broader environmental concerns. Through David’s work with EMHR and the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, we are experiencing a new focus upon the river and appreciation for its recreational opportunities amongst residents, visitors and communities that we have never seen before. David is the premier ambassador for the Susquehanna River and the North Branch Water Trail’s status as a designated National Recreation Trail and gateway agency of the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network.

David always has an eye on public policy, especially in regards to water trail development and coordination, greenway development, environmental issues (particularly water quality). David is vigilant in understanding the past, current and potential regulations affecting these issues, especially as they relate to the Susquehanna River North Branch Water Trail and identifying methods to influence regulations and programs. He is active in the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society and various statewide initiatives through agencies such as the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Protection. David proactively coordinates activities with a broad range of decision-makers to influence public policy and is a well-respected expert amongst state and federal agency officials and legislators. David has developed strong, effective relationships with the state and federal legislators representing the Endless Mountains and Susquehanna River North Branch, introducing legislators and officials to the river through paddling events and demonstrations. He is known and trusted for his input on pending legislation and regulation and readily researches and reports on issues effecting the water trail development and management and environmental quality.

David is always advancing best practices for water trail planning, development and management for our own water trail as well as land and water trails that connect with the north Branch Water Trail. As EMHR develops products for the North Branch Water Trail, David works to ensure that there is comprehensive integration where feasible in the content, appearance and utilization of maps and guides, wayfinding and orientation signage, and promotional materials. His leadership has led to a coalition of water trail and greenway volunteers and organizations that cover not only our portion of the Susquehanna River North Branch, but also into New York state (Chemung Basin River Trail Partnership [see exhibit letter], Friends of the Chemung River Watershed, Headwaters River Trail Partnership and Upper Susquehanna Coalition), and the Wyoming Valley and central Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Environmental Council and others).

David also is active in identifying trail gaps and opportunities. He has reached out state and federal agencies and departments to identify common goals and ways to benefit from programs and services available. David has partnered with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry to identify river islands, including ownership, plant and wildlife inventories, potential for camping, and stewardship opportunities. This activity is proving to be most helpful to our water trail and to the Bureau of Forestry in managing river islands and ensuring proper and safe usage and stewardship of these resources.