With the skills I learn at the 2019 International Trails Symposium and Training Institute, I will continue my commitment to creating equitable, sustainable outdoor spaces in the Southeast. I will bring back what I learn at the international symposium to my small corner of the world. Alabama is ripe with eco-tourism potential, and I want to be a part of connecting residents and tourists to its natural beauty. While myself and my community are at the beginning stages of developing a system of connecting outdoor recreation spaces, I hope to glean knowledge through meeting mentors and practical experience through the workshops.
Currently, I am involved with coordinating the development of a 31-mile blueway in Walker County, Alabama. Alabama has many best-kept secrets, and one of them is our diverse natural beauty. Through public-private partnerships, we are laying the foundation to build an outdoor recreation economy for our communities. The Walker County Waterways Initiative will connect 8 public access points along 4 blueways, creating 31 miles of new public green space. 4 of the access points will be new and 4 are existing access points that will be enhanced. At one of the existing access points, we have constructed an ADA-compliant pier for creek-side fishing, added ADA parking and path of access to the pier and bathroom. We are also working with private landowners to identify locations for primitive camping along each of the waterways, expanding the length of time people can spend out on the water.
There are many best practices to bring back from those who have been involved in this work for decades. As I learn new insights from others, I hope to bring the perspective of rural, southern United States. I am honored to have been selected as an Emerging Trail Leader to participate in the 2019 International Trails Symposium.