Earlier this morning, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Pat Tomes addressed a United States House of Representatives legislative briefing in Washington, D.C. on the economic benefits of rail-trails and trail development across America.
RTC's user survey and economic impact data work, which has put hard numbers behind otherwise anecdotal evidence that destination rail-trail do support and boost local economies, continues to grow in significance as trails advocates ramp up efforts to make sure the nation's elected officials and leaders understand the true value of investing in trails.
Tomes presentation on Capitol Hill today was part of the American Hiking Society's "Hike the Hill" event, which aims to bring trail development issues to the attention of federal lawmakers. American Hiking Society tapped RTC to lead the presentation as the only national trail organization with a long history of recording and studying the impact of trails tourism and local trail use.
"The reason we began concentrating on gathering trail user data and calculating the fiscal impacts of trail tourism years ago was exactly for moments like this," Tomes said. "When our senators and representatives, and governors and officials at the state level too, begin making decisions about the value of the Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Alternatives, and whether to make room in their budgets for trail development, they need understand the real equation. Communities all over America will tell you these trails are not frivolous things. There are thousands of main street businesses, small communities, local entrepreneurs, who are making a go of it only because of their local rail-trail or trail system. That is what federal investment in trails really means, before you even start considering the health benefits, the transportation capacity, and the environmental benefits."
For more on RTC's trail user surveys and economic impact data, visit http://community.railstotrails.org/media/tags/economic+impact/default.aspx