Benefits of Trails and Greenways
Courtesy of Rails to Trails Conservancy/Trails and Greenways Clearinghouse
WHAT ARE TRAILS AND GREENWAYS?
Greenways are corridors of
protected open space managed for conservation and recreation purposes.
Greenways often follow natural land or water features, and link nature
reserves, parks, cultural features and historic sites with each other and with
populated areas. Greenways can be publicly or privately owned, and some are the
result of public/private partnerships. Trails are paths used for walking,
bicycling, horseback riding, or other forms of recreation, exercise or transportation.
Trails and greenways often follow abandoned rail corridors, canals, and utility
rights-of-way. Some greenways include trails, while others do not. From the
hills of inland
WHY ESTABLISH TRAILS AND GREENWAYS?
Trails and greenways benefit individuals and improve communities by providing not only recreation and transportation opportunities, but also by improving economic and community development opportunities. Some of the many trails and grreenways benefits include:
making communities better places to live by preserving and creating open spaces;
encouraging physical fitness and healthy lifestyles;
creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation and non-motorized transportation;
strengthening local economies;
protecting the environment; and
preserving culturally and historically valuable areas.
TRAILS AND GREENWAYS SUPPORT ECONOMIC DEVEL.OPMENT
Trails and greenways provide countless opportunities for economic renewal and growth. Increased property values and tourism and recreation-related spending on items such as bicycles, in-line skates and lodging are just a few of the ways trails and greenways positively impact community economies.
According to a study each of
the 150,000 annual visitors to
In a 1992 study, the
National Park Service estimated the average economic activity associated with
three multi-purpose trails in
Trails and greenways provide prime opportunities for wildlife watching. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, birdwatchers spend over $5.2 billion annually.
Greenways protect important
habitats and provide corridors for people and wildlife. The preserved
Trails and greenways help improve air and water quality. Trails provide enjoyable and safe options for transportation, which helps reduce air pollution. By protecting land along rivers and streams, greenways prevent soil erosion and filter pollution caused by surface runoff.
Greenways also serve as
natural floodplains. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
flooding causes over $1 billion in property damages every year. By restoring
developed floodplains to their natural state, many riverside communities are
preventing potential flood damage, such as
Finally, trails and greenways are hands-on environmental classrooms. People of all ages can see for themselves the precious and intriguing natural world from which they often feel so far removed.
PROMOTING HEALTHY LIVING
Many people realize exercise is important for maintaining good health in all stages of life; however many do not regularly exercise. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that 60% of American adults are not regularly active and another 25% are not active at all.
In communities across the
country, people do not have access to trails, parks, or other recreation areas
close to their homes. Trails and greenways provide a safe, inexpensive avenue
for regular exercise for people living in rural, urban and suburban areas. In a
study of residents in 12 counties in southeastern
PRESERVING OUR HISTORY AND CULTURE
Trails and greenways have
the power to connect us to our heritage by preserving historic places and by
providing access to them. They can give people a sense of place and a
connection to our history. For example, the Trail of Tears tells a dramatic
story in Native American history in more than four states and the trails
networked through battlefields in
Trails in Urban areas can be
particularly well suited as a transportation corridor, connecting residential
areas with commercial districts. Trails, such as the Burke-Gilman Trail in
Trail and greenway systems help make communities livable. Byu their nature, these linear parks have the ability to connect more people to more places. Residents and companies alike understand the values of trails, greenways and open space. Many companies look for quality of life amenities when searching for a new location.
Research on the role of parks, recreation and open space on company relocation decisions showed that owners of small companies rated those amenities highest among their priorities.
The results from a survey conducted by the Sierra Business Council of California found that retaining the rural character of the countryside was imperative to attract businesses.
More and more communities
are including trails and greenways into plans to reshape their neighborhoods
and create better places to live. The citizens of southeast
Trails and greenways provide what many Americans seek - close-to-home recreational areas, community meeting places, historic preservation, educational experiences, natural landscapes and beautification. Both trails and greenways help communities build pride by ensuring that their neighborhoods are good places to live, so that children can safely walk or bike to a park, school, or to a neighbor's home. Trails and greenways help make communities more attractive and friendly places to live.
To learn more about the Rails to Trails Conservancy, check out its web sites at www.railtrails.org, www.trailLink.com (to search for rail trails in your state), or www.trailsandgreenways.org (for technical assistance on building trails).