Trails as Resilient Infrastructure

This guidebook demonstrates how trails are part of resilient transportation infrastructure, how trails can be planned and designed to be resilient and sustainable, and how trails have a role in emergency planning and response.

Trails of all kinds are places for recreation, exercise, and time outside. Trails are used for active transportation, whether for daily commuting or errand running, and also during unique events or emergencies. Trails are also a crucial tool for making communities more resilient in the face of climate change and other emergencies. This guidebook examines the ways in which trails can be made more resilient and how trails can serve as resilient infrastructure, providing information and guidance in support of these goals.

How Trails and Climate Change are Connected

Climate change is having a clear impact on weather patterns and landscapes, causing flooding, extreme heat, drought, and wildfire. These changes are expected to increase in severity over time, needing mitigation and adaptation responses at all scales and across all types of infrastructure.

As communities and regions increasingly invest in trails, they will play an expanded role in both climate mitigation and adaptation.

Multiuse trails serve both recreational and transportation functions and can help reduce carbon emissions by shifting more trips to walking, biking, and rolling. This includes trips made using micromobility and other electric-assisted devices. Urban, suburban, and rural trail corridors present opportunities for managing stormwater, improving water quality, providing wildlife habitat, and inhibiting the spread of fires, among other benefits.

However, trails can also be particularly vulnerable to climate impacts. Many trails are located within riparian and coastal corridors, forests, or on slopes, making them prone to flooding, fire, erosion, and landslides. This guidebook promotes an understanding of how to design and maintain trails as adaptive, sustainable infrastructure that can support resilient communities and ecosystems.

Attached document published December 2023

 

Webinars on YouTube that you might like

Managing Winter Trails: Increasing Opportunities and Adapting to Climate Change

Nov 15, 2018

The webinar will be centered around groomed winter trails for XC skiers, but will also address the importance of providing opportunities for snowshoeing, fatbiking, winter hiking, and winter trail running.

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Why Trails Matter: Resilience to Wildfire

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Trails and Resilience: Review of the Role of Trails in Climate Resilience and Emergency Response

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Trails are often overlooked as elements of essential infrastructure for a resilient transportation system.1 In emergencies where other transportation facilities are shut down or inaccessible, people may use trails to get where they need to go.

Launching a Successful Civilian Climate Corps

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This paper outlines ways to achieve two key goals: First, to create career paths for young people; and secondly, to improve the U.S.’ ability to counter, and adapt to climate change, especially in communities that have suffered from environmental injustices.


720 views • posted 12/19/2023