Equitable Access to Trails Discussed at 2023 International Trails Summit

If you will be joining us at the ITS in Reno NV April 17-20, 2023, don't miss these speakers and their sessions featuring topics related to equitable trails access.

by American Trails Staff

What is Equity? Equity in terms of trails access refers to helping a wide variety of people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities use trails and enjoy the outdoors. Equity also means providing opportunities to those not traditionally represented in the trails world such as women, those with disabilities, indigenous people and people of color to become trails professionals and have an effect on the way trails are designed, managed and used. Whether or not you are able to make it to Reno, hopefully these speakers will inspire you to think more broadly about who is not well represented in the trails world. These sessions will help you as a trail professional to think about how to include a wider variety of people as you recruit and train those new to the trails world, and as you design and build trails that allow access for a broad variety of trails users.

Enock Glidden will be presenting at one of the concurrent sessions, but you can also find him at an informal "Trail Talk" roundtable discussion in the Trail Hub, or at his offsite Field Demo Session. As a person with a disability, he has been working with Maine Trail Finder to further the progress in the accessibility of trails. He will speak about his philosophies toward furthering that goal and will present ideas for making outdoor spaces accessible beyond what the law requires. He will share his experiences as a wheelchair user and how he is able to navigate trails that aren't deemed accessible.

Martha Becton will speak at one of the concurrent sessions about women teaching women technical trail skills, and how this can bypass layers of barriers and bias. An experienced trainer in chainsaw safety and trail rigging, Martha shares the magic of women empowering women and why this is vital for advancing trails. She will also present about the tailgate safety talk during the Thursday off-site day. This session is designed to help day-trip crew leaders complete the pre-trip planning to lead a safe work trip as well as deliver an effective Tailgate Safety Talk to the crew to foster a culture of safety and inclusion. Whether you are an experienced crew leader or just starting out, adequately planning ahead not only makes for a smoother, more efficient work trip, it also promotes a safety culture across the crew that makes for better communication, teamwork, and problem solving. In addition to logistics planning and hazard mitigation, this session discusses ways to help new and seasoned crew members feel welcomed and valued.

Quinn Brett will be talking about Trail Sign Information. After losing the use of her legs in a climbing accident she has become a staunch advocate for equitable trail access. She will speak about how trail sign information is key for all users to make informed decisions about what trail works best for them, including people with disabilities. She will cover accessibility laws and regulations (ABA/ADA), mobility device technology on the trail, and discuss how building quality sustainable trails naturally supports more usable trails for a variety of mobility devices users. Check out this video about her experience riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on an adaptive bicycle.

Mary Ellen Koontz will be speaking about Inspiring Community through Inclusive Trail Practices. In this session, participants will explore findings from Rails to Trails Conservancy’s study of common barriers that prevent people from using trails as well as strategies and funding mechanisms for fostering inclusion and community. Communities, especially those that are underrepresented or have limited capacity, need resources to utilize new federal funding opportunities and this presentation showcases resources for that purpose. Participants will leave the session with a firm understanding of common barriers that prevent different communities from using trails and actionable strategies to address those barriers with intention.

Jeremy McGhee is presenting The Major Misconception of Adaptive Trails. He will discuss how the phrase "Adaptive Trails" bears an air of segregation and will present case studies on how to build trails that are exiting for everyone. Jeremy will address how to identify the minimal obstacles to create the maximum mileage for adaptive friendly routes on your existing network. Find out more about him here.

Matthew Nelson will talk about Indigenous Participation in Trails. Learn how one trail organization has been engaging indigenous communities in the interpretation of trails and public lands to help all visitors connect on a deeper level. From inclusion of land acknowledgements and indigenous place names on trailhead signs to involving tribes in trail design, construction and exploration, this presentation will offer a suite of successful strategies for engaging indigenous people in trail management. Matthew will also be doing a poster presentation in the Trail Hub.

April Wolfe will be doing an informal accessibility evaluation of the conference and is presenting about Adaptive Equipment for Trail Exploration during the concurrent onsite sessions. She will also be doing an adaptive cycling demonstration at the Thursday offsite day. More about her work helping create equitable trail access in collaboration with the City of Reno here.

For the most up-to-date information about speakers and session times, please check the conference website at 2023its.org

More articles by this author

606 views • posted 04/06/2023