The first North Carolina Trails Workshop this week brought trail advocates, planners and recreation professionals together in Raleigh to discuss the nuts and bolts of “Connecting Communities” with trails. Under that theme, experts were asked to brainstorm and share ideas on how to leverage often-limited resources to get more trail miles in place.
Opening the two-day event, Carol Tingley, acting state parks director, quoted western author Louis L’Amour, “The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.”
That seems evident in the fact that using trails (for hiking, biking and paddling) is the favorite activity listed in every survey of outdoor recreation. Discussing trails leads naturally to collaboration and cooperation, Tingley said. “Trails can make us better, can make North Carolina better and can make our communities better.”
A portion of the two-day workshop was attended by legislators and by Brad Ives, assistant secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Ives told the group that North Carolina is committed to continuing trail grant programs to the extent possible, in part because dynamic trails as part of a broad outdoor recreation scene are a factor in a region’s economic health.
The event was staged by the trails program of the state parks system, which works with local
governments in trail planning efforts, administers grant programs and guides development of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail. Workshop panel sessions explored topics such as using GIS data for planning, preserving a sense of place and connecting communities with multi-use trails.