Posted on August 22, 2012 4:40 PM
Trails for Illinois to undertake study of economic benefit of trails
Trails for Illinois, a non-profit trails advocacy group working to increase the number and use of the multi-use trails in Illinois, is planning to study six different trails around the state this summer in order to measure their impact on local economies and quality of life. According to Trails for Illinois executive director, Steve Buchtel, trail development and promotion are relatively low priorities in Illinois because of an underappreciation of the number of jobs that trails and trails-related businesses may generate, as well as the number of strokes and heart attacks that may be prevented by regular exercise. The project, called ‘Making Trails Count in Illinois,’ seeks to provide reasons for communities to work to advance trail development and usage.
Trails for Illinois plans to count trail users on the Tunnel Hill Trail in southern Illinois; the Goshen Trail in the St. Louis area; the Hennepin Canal Trail in northwest Illinois; the Fox River Trail in north central Illinois; the Rock Island Trail in central Illinois; and the Old Plank Road Trail in northeastern Illinois. Trails for Illinois has partnered with the national trails advocacy group, Rails to Trails Conservancy, to use electronic sensors to count users on each trail. Two other partners, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Office of Recreation and Park Resources, will help develop an intercept survey, recruit and train volunteers to carry out the survey, and analyze the data collected.