trails

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.

 

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

Social Distancing on Trails

social distancing in parks and trails infographic

Recommendations for Social Distancing on Trails

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.

CT Trail Census 2019 Data Reports & New Projects in 2020

CT trail census logo

The University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension is pleased to release the latest data on how several of the state’s most popular multi-use trails are being used, and to announce new initiatives the Connecticut Trail Census program is launching in its fourth year. “Connecticut’s trails are among the state’s most scenic and enduring assets,” observed Charles Tracy, coordinator for the Trail Census. “With three years of data collection complete, we now have a much clearer picture of trail use trends on several of the state’s major multi-use trails. New projects in 2020 will leverage existing data to estimate use on other trails, and to help us understand the statewide impacts, including health and economic benefits, of Connecticut’s diverse trails network.”

Data released today includes Trail Census summaries of the 2019 Trail Counts and Trail User Surveys along with an analysis of the impact of the new Hop River Trail connection to Manchester and East Hartford. The Trail Counts report documented 1,544,158 uses or trips recorded across all 20 sites. The most heavily used trails during 2019 were the Naugatuck River Greenway in Derby, Riverfront Recapture Trail in Hartford, and the Hop River Trail in Vernon. The Trail User Survey report found that the majority of trail users visit them frequently: 64.7% use the trails two or more times per week (in 2018 this was 55.7%). The Hop River Trail report showed how a new 3-mile trail connection was the catalyst for an increase in over 10,000 users in one year.  

Naugatuck Greenway
Naugatuck Greenway

Trail Census projects getting underway in 2020 include research to estimate use on other trails by combining existing Trail Census data and short-term counts; a multi-state conference on bicycle and pedestrian data collection; a new data visualization portal; and preliminary work on creating a statewide trails website, based on similar sites in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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 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, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, the 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 or to get involved visit www.cttrailcensus.uconn.edu.

Report links

2019 Trail Counts (https://bit.ly/2vuHwS0) 

2019 Trail User Surveys (https://bit.ly/2QqqlIF)  

2019 Hop River Trail (https://bit.ly/3d9uBpI)

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.

Spend Family Time Outdoors Exploring Nature

person walking on a bridge with colorful fall leaves around them
As the holiday season quickly approaches, time with family and friends is important to many of us. In honor of this past National Take a Hike Day (it was November 17th), try getting in your quality time with some fresh air this weekend! Take advantage of a local trail or path to get the blood flowing after a big meal. Your friends and family with thank you for burning off the extra calories!
 
This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.

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.

Registration Open for CT Trail Symposium

trail symposium header showing person's feet walking in woods and logos of sponsors

We in Connecticut, over the last decade, have made great progress in building and connecting our trail systems.  So much so that the Connecticut Greenways Council believes now is the time to celebrate and shout about our trail systems assuring that all members of our communities can gather, recreate, relax, run errands and even commute or travel together. This year, the Symposium hopes to offer sessions that focus on engaging with state and local tourism and marketing resources as well as technology that can maximize effective delivery of your trail information.

Shout it Out! The Connecticut Trails Symposium is Thursday, October 24th at Goodwin College in East Hartford. We have a lineup of trails and tourism workshops and presenters for attendees. Registration is open – see the full agenda and register to attend at https://cttrails.uconn.edu/2019symposium/

Co-sponsors include: Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), Connecticut Forest & Park Association, and Connecticut Greenways Council.

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.

Personal Safety on the Trail

two horses headed out onto the trails with their equestrian riders at Bluff Point State Park in Groton
Photo: Stacey Stearns

All trail users should follow basic tips for personal safety. These tips can also be adapted to other situations.

1. Be aware of your surroundings and other people on the trails and in parking lots. Do not wear head- phones or earbuds.

2. Park in well-lit areas and lock the doors of your vehicle, and trailer for equestrians.

3. If possible, don’t go alone. Walk or ride with a friend. If you think someone is following you, go towards public areas.

4. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Share your route with them.

5. Carry your cell phone, but be aware that you might not have cell phone service in all areas.

6. Carry a map. Know your route, and carry the map anyway.

7. Carry pepper spray for protection if it makes you feel more comfortable.

8. Wear blaze orange or reflective material during hunting season.

9. Carry water and sunscreen.
10.
Pay attention to trail markers so you can identify your location.

Download our brochure for more information on trail etiquette.

This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.