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published Sep 8, 2018
American Trails Staff
Encouraging visitors to stay on the trail is the most important issue, and is made easier by providing attractive, well-designed trail systems. Managers should also identify populations of plants that have been designated as threatened, endangered, or sensitive.
The checklist focuses specifically on wildlife issues of trail planning and is designed to mirror comprehensive planning processes.
Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind
Any trail will have at least some impact on wildlife. Therefore, deciding whether the recreational value of a trail outweighs those impacts is a community choice, or in some cases, a legal question.
Offering wildlife interpretation and environmental education to trail users can play an important role in reducing impacts to wildlife. People more readily protect what they understand and appreciate.
The construction of a trail is just one impact on the habitat it passes through. The activities of visitors and the response of wildlife are also components of the long-term trail impacts.
Assessing the amount of human disturbance already along a potential trail alignment can help set more real- istic wildlife goals for a trail project. Trail alignments may pass through one or more of the general levels of modification along a gradient from urban to pristine.
While some species (such as bald eagle and Ute ladies-tresses orchids) and habitats (such as wetlands) have legal status that must be respected in the process of trail building, others may deserve special attention because of the value placed on them by a local community.
By understanding the relative quality of riparian areas, it may be possible to find places within the riparian zone for trails that will have less impact on wildlife.
Looking at resources from a regional or landscape-wide perspective helps identify where trails should go and which areas should be conserved for wildlife.
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The Land and Water Conservation Fund is credited as funding the Big Dry Creek Trail in Westminster, Colorado
The Cache la Poudre River Trail in Greeley, Colorado received funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Colorado Lottery, both through the state trails program
A newer style of sign boldly proclaiming the Colorado Lottery funding source on Cherry Creek Trail in Denver, Colorado
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The Acorn Group, Inc.
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