April 17 2013

How Water Trails Benefit Communities Across the United States

Water trails are defined by the North American Water Trails, as “a stretch of river, a shoreline, or an ocean that has been mapped out with the intent to create an educational, scenic, and challenging experience for recreational canoers and kayakers.” Here in Lake Tahoe, we have seventy-two miles of scenic shoreline that provides an ideal spot for local recreational users and visitors alike.

water trail - paddle boarder

Water trails benefit a community the same way a bike path or a hiking trail do. They get people outdoors and learning about their environments. Community members that actively use trails or other outdoor resources tend to be environmentally conscious, and have a strong sense of social responsibility in their community. Trails also benefit local economies and encourage sustainable businesses. In Pennsylvania, a Trail Town Program surveyed 140 trail users on the Great Allegheny Passage and found that they were more likely to patronize businesses that were environmentally friendly. Businesses along the trail responded, and created a network to share ideas of how their businesses could be more sustainable, and attract more consumers.

Lake Tahoe has been successful at attracting this type of consumer and recreational user, contributing to a robust recreational economy year round. They have made it easy for water trail users and visitors to download an interactive map from Lake Tahoe Water Trail’s website, that identifies launch areas, parking, camping spots, local businesses, sandy beaches and more. It’s geotourism at its finest – creating a sustainable way for users to enjoy and sustain the geographical character of Lake Tahoe.

water trails - lake edge

Here is a list of popular water trails that might be near you!

  • Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System – Florida Panhandle

  • Maine Island Trail – Portland, Maine

  • Milwaukee Urban Water Trail – Southeast Wisconsin

  • Willamette River Water Trail – Western Oregon

  • Cascadia Marine Trail- Puget Sound, WA

Please share an experience or example of how trails promote environmental stewardship in your community.

Credits: Images by Amanda Christian. Data linked to sources.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 at 9:04 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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