UConn Extension is excited to welcome Eniola Fasola as Connecticut Trail Census‘s newest graduate assistant. Eniola obtained her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Economics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and the University of Connecticut, respectively. Currently, she is doing her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics at The University of Connecticut. Eniola will be working together with the Connecticut Trail Census team as a Graduate Assistant on data gap estimation and trail user demand modeling. She hopes to use the count data to investigate the impact of the Trail use on development and health impacts. Apart from carrying out data analysis and conducting research, she considers herself “a people person,” and she loves to hang out with her friends to catch up and try out new food.
Written By Marissa DiBella
Connecticut offers a wealth of outdoor spaces from city parks to rural area trail systems where people can engage in all types of activities such as hiking, biking, and nature watching while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Spending time outdoors is a great way to get exercise, reduce stress, and can be a good educational experience for kids of all ages. Additionally, doing activities outside can increase happiness and wellbeing.
For new trail users, heading onto the trails can seem a bit overwhelming as it can be hard to know what to expect on the trails. Information about what to pack, eat, and how to navigate trail systems is not always widely available. This is why we have launched a new video series called “Trails 101” on our Connecticut Trails webpage. This series of four videos explains to trail users everything they need to know before stepping onto the trails. The videos cover topics such as how to prepare for a hike, what to bring, trail etiquette, and the leave no trace principles. Trail users of all levels have a responsibility to know how to respect themselves, others, and the environment when heading out into nature. These videos provide the tools needed for a successful adventure on Connecticut trails.
Other resources available for new trail users include websites such as AllTrails.com. AllTrails is a great resource to help people locate hikes in their area. On AllTrails, trails can be sorted by difficulty level, length, and type of trail. There is information about features of the trail such as vistas and waterfalls, and accessibility of the trails. The hikes are posted by community members and do not always include all information available so cross checking with trail managing organizations would also be helpful. The benefit of AllTrails being a crowd-sourced website is that other trail users can leave reviews of the hike and the current conditions to help others decide if the trail is right for them at that time.
Another online resource for finding trails is the Connecticut Forest and Park Association Interactive Map. This map helps hikers find blue blazed trails near them. The website includes an informational video on how to use the interactive map which we would highly recommend watching as it shows just how helpful this interactive map can be.
As helpful as all these online resources can be, sometimes, the best option is a paper map. Paper maps can be printed from the internet, purchased from the organization that maintains the trail of interest, or, sometimes, found for free at trailhead information huts. Since cell service is not always available and cell phones can run out of battery, it’s always good to be prepared by having a paper trail map.
A final resource trail users should explore before heading outside is the Leave No Trace website which provides information on how to be a responsible trail user. On the website, they discuss the 7 principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). These principles outline ways humans can make the least amount of impact on the environment when visiting natural places. We all live in the same environment, so it is the job of everyone to help preserve it. These principles are not hard to follow yet they have a huge impact on preserving our wild places. For example, the LNT principles of disposing of waste properly and traveling on durable surfaces are small actions trail users can take to maintain the beauty of the natural environments we all enjoy recreating in.
After watching the Trails 101 video series, looking at websites like AllTrails.com, and reviewing the LNT principles, it’s time to hit the trail, get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors. Enjoy exploring all Connecticut has to offer.
Kim Bradley recently joined UConn Extension as the project coordinator for the Connecticut Trail Census. Welcome, Kim!
Kimberly 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.
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! 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/.
UConn 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
“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.
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.
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.
“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
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.