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No Little Plans

Dear Friend of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy,

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood…"

That famous line by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham (1846–1912) came to mind at the close of a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) Board of Directors meeting in June. The board had just reviewed a new three-year strategic plan for RTC.

And it is no little plan. In fact, RTC has established the ambitious goal that: By 2020, 90 percent of Americans will live within three miles of a local network of public trails created from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Do I find that goal daunting? Not in the least. In fact, it stirs my blood. My excitement stems from the conclusion that we are poised to make a quantum leap forward as an organization and as a movement.

Why? Consider that last fall, an effort to eliminate the largest source of funding for trails was defeated by an overwhelming vote of 327-90 in the U.S. House of Representatives, indicating that the American people strongly support such investment in their communities. You can't pick up a newspaper without reading about the obesity epidemic, which is increasing demand for safe places to walk and bicycle. And with the support of our 100,000 members and supporters, RTC emerged from the recent economic downturn in strong financial condition, demonstrating that our mission continues to enjoy broad-based support.

I am convinced that the stars are aligning: Public support for building new trails has never been higher and RTC is ready to seize this moment. Our new 2020 goal is outrageously ambitious, but achievable. But we can't do it alone. To build on this growing momentum, we must have the continued support of you, our members. Together, we can leave a lasting legacy by reconnecting America with a nationwide network of trails and greenways.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work!

Keith Laughlin

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037