CT Trail Census

ACE C & A Awards – UConn 2021

We would like to congratulate all of the UConn Extension team members who received awards from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE)! Thank you for your hard work and continued efforts.

All award recipients will be recognized at the ACE virtual conference in June.

 

Rising Star Award

  • Recipient: Stacey Stearns

C & A Awards

  • Gold – Ask UConn Extension – Marketing Campaign – Budget Under $1000

                       Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – What is UConn Extension Video – Electronic Media, Video 5 – Educational Video

                          Team: Stacey Stearns, Mike Zaritheny, Meredith Zaritheny, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Electronic Media, Audio 2 – Podcasts
                    Neva Taylor

 

  • Silver – Annual Extension Impact Sheet – Publishing 5 – Promotional Publications

                         Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez

 

  • Silver – Fall-Winter 2020-21 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Diversity

                          Judy Benson

 

  • Bronze – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Diversity 5 – Electronic Media

                             Neva Taylor

 

  • Bronze – Spring-Summer 2020 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Writing
                      Judy Benson

 

CT trail census logoSea Grant logoExtension word mark

CT Trail Census

A Yearly Review

The Connecticut Trail Census (CTTC) is a volunteer-based program that brings transparent trail use data to the community and state through a network of infrared trail counters statewide and through implementation of trail-based user surveys. CTTC was created four years ago, and the data generated each year is instrumental in helping with land-use decisions.

family on bridge smilingResponses to the 2020 CT Trail Census Evaluation Survey show that over 75% of respondents indicate they have used or plan to use the CTTC program and associated data to communicate trail use data for decision makers or the public, reference trail use data to make trail decisions, use trail use data to leverage resources, integrate trail use data into long term planning efforts, or identify patterns of use or trends on their trails.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased trail use starting in March of 2020 as more people than ever are using trails due to decreased options. Several reports comparing monthly 2019 to 2020 use data were completed for March through June 2020. Preliminary data analysis completed for Laura Brown’s presentation as a component of the 2020 Northeast MultiModal Summit document increased use in our data counts across 16 automated counter locations on trails throughout Connecticut.

The comprehensive 2020 Trail Use Count Report, summarizing trail counter and survey data was released in March 2021. In response to the increase in new trail users, the CTTC, in partnership with the People Active on Trails for Health & Sustainability (PATHS) team, produced four trails 101 videos to help new and experienced trail users understand how to plan and prepare for a hike, read trail blazes, and review trail etiquette.

The On the Trail and Walk with Me Podcast Series, produced by UConn undergraduate student Neva Taylor raises up the voices of a wide range of people from many different outdoors disciplines. A UConn Today article compelled UConn President Thomas Katsouleous to write a personal letter in appreciation for this work. In the new year the Podcast continues to highlight voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and continues informational on the trail episodes. Laura Brown of UConn Extension and Don Rakow of Cornell compiled an extensive Anti-Racism in the Outdoors resource guide that includes readings, podcasts, and articles. The list is updated monthly with new information.

The new Connecticut Trail Finder website is under development as a partnership between UConn Extension, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation. Projected to be released in time for National Trails Day on June 5, 2021, the Trail Finder tool enables community members to view trails, get essential information like maps and parking information, and submit trip comments and photos. Users will be able to track trail experiences, noting trails that they have completed, their favorites, or ones they want to visit. This resource is meant to centrally locate everything that one would need to know in order to enjoy the trails.

We also wanted to acknowledge the changes in our staff over the past six months. Charles Tracy, our Trail Census Coordinator, transferred into full retirement in late August. Kimberly Bradley transferred into Charlie’s role in late September and has been gracefully catching up and moving forward ever since. Ryan Faulkner, our graduate student intern who helped with launching the online/QR Code survey, left us at the end of October to finish his graduate degree for a Masters in Geography in pursuit of a career as a Transportation Planner. Neva Taylor, our undergraduate student intern from the summer who launched our podcast series, stayed on with us through the fall to continue her podcasts and work as a communications and social media coordinator. We want to thank all our staff this year for helping us get through these crazy times.

Article by Kimberly Bradley and Neva Taylor

UConn CLEAR Webinars in May

WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Experimenting with Climate-Adaptive Forestry Practices: Challenges and Opportunities
Christopher Riely, Sweet Birch Consulting, LLC
Following a brief overview of general forest climate adaptation strategies, this talk will present one experimental project begun in Scituate, Rhode Island, in 2015, when Mr. Riely helped manage 13,000 acres of forestland buffering the reservoirs for Rhode Island’s largest water utility. Site work included planting both native tree seedlings and non-native species projected to be adapted to future climate conditions, such as shortleaf pine and sweetgum. To assess deer impacts on one site, half the seedlings were planted inside a large exclosure fence. While foresters monitor early results, the project has provided significant educational value through engaging public audiences and a professional community of practice. This webinar is the 3rd of the series Finding the Right Trees for the Right Time, sponsored by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

REGISTER

WEDNESDAY, May 19, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Building Capacity for Conservation: Engaging Local Teens
Nicole Friedenfelds and Amy Cabaniss, Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA), UConn Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment
Have a great idea for a conservation project in your community or land trust, but not sure you have the staff power, technical know-how, or energy to carry it out? Wouldn’t it be great to connect with local youth in that effort? Tune in to this webinar to learn how the UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) is engaging high school students in wildlife monitoring, water quality, promoting pollinators, outdoor recreation, and other environmental projects in communities throughout Connecticut. NRCA faculty will share insights on ways to build capacity for your organization through youth engagement. Through this webinar, you’ll learn about tangible projects that can help address local environmental needs and hear directly from teen and adult participants about their experiences in UConn NRCA programs and the community actions they carried out.

REGISTER

WEDNESDAY, May 26, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Introducing Connecticut Trail Finder
Kimberly Bradley, UConn Department of Extension and Trails Program Coordinator, PATHS (People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability) Team
The State of Connecticut has a vast number of open space and outdoor recreational opportunities, however information for trail users can be inconsistent, inaccurate, and difficult to find. The Connecticut Trail Finder, currently in development through UConn Extension, will be a free, interactive mapping website designed to help Connecticut residents and visitors explore trail and outdoor recreation opportunities, trailside services, and events across the state. Connecticut Trail Finder will compile trail manager approved trails with the goals of becoming the primary trails data source for the State of Connecticut and connecting users with trail management organizations and resources. This webinar will provide an overview of the resource to trail users, exploring the current and developing features of the website, and provide information for trail and land managers on how you can add your trail systems to the Connecticut Trail Finder.  The Connecticut Trail Finder is funded through generous support from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.

REGISTER

What has changed on your trails as a result of COVID-19?

survey that shows sad, neutral, and happy face with an arrow pointing to the happy face
Our Connecticut Trail Census has launched a survey to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on trails and trail management. The survey is intended for trail managers of non-motorized trails in Connecticut takes about 10 minutes to complete. Please take a few moments to respond to the survey. The survey will remain open until Wednesday, November 25.

UConn Extension Releases Evidence-Based Information Sheets on the Impacts of Trails

Meriden TrailUConn Extension and the National Park Service are pleased to announce the publication of the Impacts of Trails info-sheet series. As communities throughout the U.S. and the world cope with the devastating toll of COVID-19, the pandemic has brought a renewed focus on the importance of local trails. 

These one-page color, downloadable resources provide evidencebased information on the impacts of trails on physical and mental health, building community, stimulating economies, and fostering climate resilience. Each includes key data points from existing literature, a case study and a short list of recommendations. Communities highlighted include Meriden, Connecticut, New Haven, Connecticut, Canton, Connecticut, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The health info-sheet includes six major benefits that trails have on promoting health. It recommends that communities animate trails with programs, increase public awareness about trails, and engage people not currently using trails. A case study on the Walk and Talk with a Doc initiative between Get Healthy CT and Yale Medicine in New Haven documents how trails have improved health outcomes for residents.

Trails drive economic development in communities through their positive impact on property values, expenditures at local businesses, and quality of life, among other attributes. The authors recommend that communities take a systems approach, connect their trails with downtown amenities, and engage and involve anchor institutions and local property owners in trail development. The Farmington Canal Trail in Canton provides further evidence of how the trail increased economic activity in the town.

Woman in Meriden“Our vision was a trail network that offered something for everyone in the community, from easy walks around Lake Mansfield to a rigorous hike along our piece of the Appalachian Trail,” says Christine Ward, Director of the Great Barrington Trails and Greenways in Massachusetts. Trails in any community are catalysts for increasing environmental awareness, creating connections, and strengthening community resilience. Steps to build community with trails include programming, analyzing trail use, and thinking community wide.

Climate change will bring many public health and safety threats to our communities and trails enhance resiliency through mitigation and by providing habitats for plants and wildlife. Trails also help decrease the carbon footprint of residents as more use the trails for travel. Communities enhance resiliency on their trails by making them feel safe and protected, encouraging residents to replace short vehicle trips, and connecting to transportation networks. A case study of Meriden shows how the trails and open space saved the downtown from flooding. 

 

View all the impact sheets with the full benefits of trails and recommendations for community leaders at https://cttrailcensus.uconn.edu/trail-impact-series/.

 

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

Riverfront Recapture’s partnership with UConn Extension’s CT Trail Census

Lady with glasses smiling at man with glasses and people in the background Riverfront Recapture‘s partnership with UConn Extension’s CT Trail Census has advanced our mission to improve the quality of life and urban vitality for those who live, work and play in central Connecticut. Specifically, Trail Census data has supported successful funding requests, including our 2019 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award, and was integral to our recent request to the EPA to support cleanup efforts that will allow us to expand our park and trail system along the Connecticut River in Hartford. It also helps us understand community needs by complementing the qualitative findings of a community survey on outdoor recreation by Trinity College.

View the findings.

 

Meet Neva Taylor: Extension Intern and Podcast Host

girl taking a selfie Hi! My name is Neva Taylor and I am one of the summer interns with the CT Trail Census and UConn CAHNR Extension. At UConn, I am a double major in Urban and Community Studies (UCS) and Sociology, and in the Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) fast track program. At UConn I am on the women’s rugby team and the triathlon team; because of COVID I have switched to mainly running, running my first virtual half marathon back in May. Other than sports, I also am involved with the Big Brother Big Sister mentoring program where I have a “little sister” at a local elementary school. I also had my own radio show last semester called Woman of the Week (WOW) where I highlighted different amazing women out there doing amazing things each week.
Thanks to my broadcasting experience, I am starting a new podcast for the CT Trail Census called “On the Trail”. On the podcast we will cover a broad array of topics both on and off the beaten path about all things having to do with nature, trails, and the outdoors. Last week’s episode was all about finding the right trail for you and what resources (apps and websites) can help you along the way. In the coming weeks we will be discussing issues like youth engagement, trail maintenance, representation and inclusivity in the outdoors community, and much more. My hopes for this podcast are that people can get in tune with nature in their backyards and communities and learn new things that they may have never thought to question. Each episode launches every Friday at 12pm so I hope you’ll join us “On the Trail!”

Learn more about the Connecticut Trail Census at https://cttrailcensus.uconn.edu/ and the
podcast at https://uconnextension.podbean.com/.

COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

CT trail census logoCONNECTICUT TRAIL CENSUS RELEASES 

COVID-19 TRAIL IMPACT REPORT FOR APRIL-MAY 2020 

We are 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 April-May 2020 at 12 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. “The trend of increased trail use occurring simultaneously with the March outbreak of COVID-19 is continuing,” 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.” Overall, three quarters of the trails participating in this study recorded an increase of greater than 50%, compared to April-May 2019.

The report released today is part of an ongoing trail research project conducted by the Connecticut Trail Census. Other Trail Census projects include “On the Trail” a new weekly podcast; 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. 

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: April-May 2020

Charlie Tracy Recognized for Trail Work

Plaque recognizing Charlie Tracy for his work on the trails and collaborations in Massachusetts

This weekend at the Mass Trails Conference in Leominster Charlie Tracy, our new Connecticut Trail Census Coordinator, received an achievement award to recognize his over 30 years of dedication to trails work and building successful collaborative partnerships in Massachusetts and across the nation. Charlie is well loved in the trail community and we are so lucky that he has chosen the next stage of his career following retirement from the National Park Service, to include this work in Connecticut. Charlie and Laura Brown, our Community and Economic Development Extension Educator also presented a successful session on the Trail Census at the conference.

CT Trail Census Receives Grant

Naugatuck Greenway
Naugatuck Greenway

Our Connecticut Trail Census program recently received $206,049.50 in grant funding from the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Trails & Greenways Program and the Connecticut Greenways Council. UConn Extension’s Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program implemented as a pilot from 2016-2018 on 16 multi-use (bicycle, pedestrian, equestrian) trail sites across the state.