Wow, we’ve not posted nothin’ for weeks! The explanation: we’ve been turtled up to finish the Making Trails Count: Illinois Prairie Path project.
And we’re still not finished, but the data we’ve collected is kind of amazing, and I wanted to share a couple tid bits, just to show some life on this blog and, of course, to tease you.
Making Trails Count helps trail groups and agencies quantify the Triple Bottom Line benefits (economic impact, environmental stewardship, health) trails generate for users and the communities they connect. The data was collected by 28 volunteers, many of them members of the Illinois Prairie Path not-for-profit Corporation, who logged nearly 200 hours collecting almost 700 surveys the summer and fall of 2013. The University of Illinois Office of Recreation & Park Resources coded and analyzed the findings.
Environmental benefits—only 23% of trail users surveyed used a motor vehicle to get to the trail. For hundreds of thousands of people, the IPP turns their homes into trailheads.
Health benefits —Cycling, by far, was the most reported activity on the trail. Walking & running came in number two and three—depending on age group. And make your guess which age group was more likely to indicate “stress relief” as one of their reasons for trail use.
Economic benefits—You were pretty smart opening the bar, restaurant, or outdoor gear shop near the trail. Oh, that’s not you? Maybe it should be.
The IPP, it’s turning out, plays a huge role in the quality of life that western Cook and Dupage County offers. All who live there knew that, but soon they’ll know it in a way that can be leveraged to create more value from trail use, and to encourage more trail connections.
Parks & rec professionals will get a more detailed preview this Friday at the IPRA state conference in Chicago, 10am in the New Orleans room, and learn how Making Trails Count can work for them. Look for the full report in early February at http://trailsforillinois.org/maketrailscount.
(Photo by Diane Banta, National Park Service Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance)