Connecticut Trail Census

Meet Kim Bradley, our CT Trail Census Coordinator

Kim Bradley recently joined UConn Extension as the project coordinator for the Connecticut Trail Census. Welcome, Kim!

Kim Bradley and a canine companion on the trailKimberly Bradley is dedicated and passionate about engaging individuals and communities in outdoor activities and connecting them to our public lands and educating others to maintain resilient ecological systems. Her involvement in the conservation and trails communities includes serving on the Board of Directors as President and Stewardship Chair for Avalonia Land Conservancy; as a member of the Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Watershed Coordination Committee, supporting the Outreach and Education and Goodwin Trail Coordination Subcommittees; serving as president of the SECT Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, and on Regional Board of Directors; serving on the Town of Salem Inland Wetland and Conservation Commission; and supporting the Connecticut Envirothon Program, as the previous Aquatics Chairperson and Steering Committee Member.

Kim holds a M.Sc. in Biological Oceanography, and a B.Sc. in Environmental Science with a focus on Ecological and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut. She worked as a Research Assistant for the National Undersea Research Center at UConn Avery Point while earning her graduate degree, and upon completion of her M. Sc.,  worked as a senior environmental and ecological consultant for close to ten years building a strong network of engineering and natural resource colleagues and municipal representatives across Connecticut.  Kim then moved into the role of Project Specialist for UConn’s Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) supporting the grant funded planning, development, design, implementation and evaluation of workshops, webinars, and outreach materials on living shorelines, green infrastructure. Kim loves exploring the trails and open spaces with her family, especially her two young daughters and lab Huckleberry, by foot or on their mountain bikes.

CT Trail Census/UConn Extension Initiate CT Trail Finder Project

people walking dog on a trailThe Connecticut Trail Census, a project of UConn Extension, announced it is developing CT Trail Finder, a new one-stop web resource that will provide easy, fast, and centralized access to maps and reliable information about all of Connecticut’s trails!
 
Slated to launch in May 2021, this new resource will be especially helpful for new hikers, walkers, and cyclists who may be looking for new and different trails, as many of Connecticut’s most popular trails are seeing significant increases in use in comparison to 2019, due to an increase of outdoor activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
A key feature that distinguishes CT Trail Finder from many trail websites and mobile apps is that all data is trail manager approved, so users will have accurate, dependable trail information direct from the source. CT Trail Finder also allows trail managers and land stewards to update their information in real time and communicate directly to users about any alerts such as parking constraints, access, and more. We look forward to seeing you outdoors!
 
Article by Charles Tracy, UConn Extension

On the Trail Podcast

Cary Chadwick

Did you know that the CT Trail Census is starting a podcast? Well they are! It is called “On the Trail” and each week they focus on a different path having to do with trails and nature in Connecticut. This week’s episode features an interview with Cary Chadwick, a geospatial educator, about how to find the right trail for you. Check us out at https://uconnextension.podbean.com/ every Friday at 12pm!

Article by Neva Taylor

Thank You, Volunteers!

collage of photos with UConn Extension volunteers smiling at the camera that says thank you in the middleThank you, volunteers! It’s National Volunteer Week, and we want to thank all of our volunteers who help us provide programs in all 169 Connecticut municipalities. Last year, our volunteers donated 207,887 hours valued at $5.3 million to Extension programs, a 25% increase over 2018.

Our volunteers shifted to virtual programming with us when COVID-19 arrived and continue to serve our communities. This week and every week, we appreciate your contributions to our Extension programs. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities at https://cahnr.uconn.edu/extension/volunteer/.

 

CT Trail Census Releases COVID-19 Trail Impact Report

well dressed man walking on a trail with sun coming through the trees behind himUConn Extension is pleased to release the latest data on how several of the state’s most popular multi-use trails are being impacted by COVID-19. The new report documents trail use during March 2020 at 13 sites on multi-use trails in Connecticut, and compares use with the same period in 2019, as one indication of the changes in trail use occurring simultaneously with the outbreak of COVID-19. “Many of Connecticut’s trails are experiencing an unprecedented level of use,” observed Charles Tracy, coordinator for the Trail Census, “The Trail Census team wanted to share these initial findings as soon as the data was available.” More than half of the participating trails recorded an increase of greater than 100% in use, compared to March 2019.

The report released today is part of an ongoing trail research project conducted by the Connecticut Trail Census, a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on trail use will be conducted at a later date. Other Trail Census projects in 2020 include research to estimate statewide trail use; organizing a multi-state conference on bicycle and pedestrian data collection; a new data visualization portal; and work on creating a statewide trails website.

The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared counters and user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers. The goal is to develop an accurate picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and to advance and inform new trail policy, design and construction throughout the state. Data is compiled annually and is available online and through public education programs. 

Initiated in 2017 as a partnership between UConn Extension, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trails advocacy organizations, the Trail Census has expanded to over 20 data collection sites on trails across the state. The program receives funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program. For more information, visit www.cttrailcensus.uconn.edu   

Link: COVID-19 Trail Impact Report

CT Trail Census Data Builds Communities

woman walking a dog on the Still River Greenway in Brookfield“The Connecticut Trail Census data has been indispensable in communicating the positive impacts of the Still River Greenway to the Brookfield community;” states Joei Grudzinski, Co-Chairman of the Brookfield Parks and Recreation Commission. “In particular, the recent user survey indicated strong support among adult bike riders for our initiative to extend the trail.”

The Connecticut Trail Census is a program of UConn Extension and our partners, and part of our PATHS program – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability.

Fall Updates from UConn Extension

food, health and sustainability venn diagram

UConn Extension is pleased to share the following updates with you:

  • An update on the strategic planning process for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, as well as internal re-organization of Extension program teams.
  • Our UConn CLEAR program worked with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on a sea level rise model map viewer, and a webinar is being offered on October 16th.
  • UConn Extension, and our Connecticut Trail Census program will be at the Connecticut Trails Symposium on Thursday, October 24th at Goodwin College in East Hartford.
  • We have two part-time positions open at the Hartford County Extension Center in Farmington. Applications are due by Thursday, October 3rd.
  • We are growing food and health with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Ledyard through a USDA-NIFA grant.

Read all of our updates.

New Team to Lead CT Trail Census Data & Education Program

NEW TEAM TO LEAD CONNECTICUT TRAIL CENSUS DATA COLLECTION AND EDUCATION PROGRAM

The University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension is pleased to welcome Charles Tracy as the new Coordinator, and Ryan Faulkner as the new Project Specialist of the Connecticut Trail Census Program. The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program that operates on trails across the state. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared pedestrian counters and trail user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers, and disseminates trail use information through public education programs.

Charles Tracy
Charles Tracy

“Connecticut’s diverse trail networks are among the state’s most scenic, valuable and enduring assets,” said Tracy. “Connecticut’s trails support public health, promote community, provide alternative transportation, encourage tourism, and strengthen the economy. I’m looking forward to developing an accurate and compelling picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and then finding creative ways to share that picture to advance and inform new trail design and construction throughout the state.”

“We’re thrilled to have such an amazing team on board to continue and grow this work,” said Census team member Laura Brown with UConn Extension. “The new staff will focus on developing new partnerships with public and private organizations in areas such as economic development, health, and transportation who have an interest in trails but might not have engaged with the trail user community before. We’ll also be increasing our educational programs to help communities and leaders make better use of this valuable data.”

The Trail Census encourages data informed decision-making and promotes active citizen participation in multi-use trail monitoring and advocacy. It has operated since 2017 and in 2018 the Census documented an estimated 1,449,220 uses on the 16 participating sites. The program has since grown to over 20 participating data collection sites across the state. The program received $206,043 in funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program to continue work through 2019.

Charles Tracy has been leading community and regional trail development and landscape conservation initiatives throughout New England since 1988 and will be retiring from his current position as a National Park Service landscape architect. Tracy has been superintendent of the New England National Scenic Trail and national lead for NPS art partnerships. He holds master’s degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts and in classics from the University of Texas. 

Ryan Faulkner joins the Census after nearly two years of contributions as a project intern while completing his BA in

Ryan Faulkner
Ryan Faulkner

Economics from UConn in 2017. He is currently a Master’s Degree Candidate in Geography at Central Connecticut State University.

“I look forward to forming closer relationships with our volunteers and partners,” Ryan said. “It’s exciting to now have the resources and staff to take the Trail Census to the next level. Trails are a keystone to building a prosperous and healthy Connecticut, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this coming year.” 

The Trail Census is statewide and serves community leaders and decision makers including local elected officials, planners, economic development professionals, trail advocates, trail maintenance professionals, environmental, health and outdoor activity advocates, as well as the general public. The program was developed as a partnership program between UConn Extension, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, the Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trail advocacy organizations. The project is advised by a volunteer steering committee. For more information or to get involved visitcttrailcensus.uconn.edu.

CT Trail Census Update

By Kristina Kelly, Connecticut Trail Census Statewide Coordinator

Naugatuck Greenway
Naugatuck Greenway

Fall is a busy time for the Connecticut Trail Census team as we are nearing the end of our pilot year. We are so excited to have this important data finalized and ready for release in January 2018 so that our local communities can begin to put the data to use improving their local trail systems.

In September, volunteers and trail enthusiasts performed Intercept Surveys at our 15 participating trail sites. These surveys feature multiple choice and open-ended questions such as the user’s age range, motivation for using the trail, frequency of trail use, and whether they planned on spending money on that trip to the trail (such as stopping at a coffee shop in a community along the way). These questions are intended to collect valuable qualitative data that the Infrared (IR) Counters cannot. So far, we have received over 400 surveys from this fall session and the data is currently being compiled into a database for organization and presentation.

In other news, we are looking forward to presenting at the 2nd Annual CT Trails Symposium on October 19th. In addition to speaking about the current progress and planning for the future of the program, we will be unveiling a preview of how and where the survey data will be available to the public in January. Click here for more information on the Symposium and register to join us!

In the public outreach department, we have released a CT Trail Census Facebook page where we post program updates, connections with statewide trail groups, and useful articles regarding trail use! Check us out on Facebook and be sure to click “like” so our posts show up in your newsfeed.

Finally, at the end of this month, we will be collecting another round of quantitative data from the IR counters that are counting trail uses 24/7 on our trail sites! We will then perform preliminary analysis and continue working on calibrating and correcting this data for our final report release in January.

Stay tuned for more updates and feel free to reach out to me or visit our website if you would like more information or to get involved!