The Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus, formed on March 29, 2017, is a bipartisan group of 28-and-counting state-elected officials committed to creating a statewide trails network to connect Ohioans.  The Caucus is focused on improving existing trails and ensuring smart planning for future trail networks.  The Caucus is leading political efforts to develop opportunities for outdoor recreation and active transportation. 

Contact your state legislators and ask them to join the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus via www.railstotrails.org/ohcaucus.  The current Caucus members are --

Senators Sean O'Brien & Steve Wilson (Co-Chairs)

Senators Troy Balderson, Bob Hackett, Stephanie Kunze, Frank LaRose, Peggy Lehner, Michael Skindell & Kenny Yuko

Representatives John Boccieri, Andrew Brenner, Tom Brinkman, Richard Brown, Jim Butler, Glenn Holmes, Stephanie Howse, Catherine Ingram, Brigid Kelly, David Leland, Michele Lepore-Hagan, Adam Miller, Michael O'Brien, John Patterson, Rick Perales, Daniel Ramos, Gary Scherer, Michael Sheehy, Kent Smith, Dick Stein, Emilia Sykes & Thomas West

Here are the working Vision, Mission & Goals for this dedicated group of state legislators:

VISION

To establish a statewide trails network that links to neighboring states, local & regional trail systems and places of interest.  This network will be multimodal, providing opportunities for all recreational and active transportation trail users, and will provide many benefits, including improved quality of life, health and fitness opportunities, and transportation, economic and environmental benefits.  The Ohio trails network will be accessible and provide trail opportunities within 10 minutes of most Ohioans, representing a partnership of elected officials, government agencies, trail users and organizations, businesses, community groups and concerned citizens.

MISSION

The Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus (OLTC) has been created to serve as a tool for improving existing trails in the state and to ensure smart planning of future trails.  The Caucus facilitates identifying statewide issues that impact trails, recommending strategies for addressing these issues, and establishing policies, including funding mechanisms, to develop s state and regional trails network.  The OLTC will work closely with all stakeholders to promote best practices.

“YEAR OF THE TRAILS” (2017-2018) GOALS

These short-term goals are the focus for the first year of the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus and are designed to promote the Caucus and the Year of the Trails while laying the groundwork for state trail funding and other policy initiatives over the next five years:

  1. State Legislator Trail Event (October 25, 2017, 10am to 1pm)

The OLTC, with the support of the Ohio Trails Partnership, will host a trail event that highlights all trail uses, engages state legislators in a meaningful and fun way, and encourages more Ohio state elected officials to join the OLTC.

  1. Current, Comprehensive & Dynamic Online Trail Map (April 2018)

This initiative will capitalize on the efforts of ODNR, with all trail constituencies supporting this inventory through a collaborative effort that includes agreeing upon GIS attributes and coordinating the sharing of data.  This should become a tool for trail planners, users and other stakeholders as well as support best trail management practices.  Ideally, this online application will facilitate the sharing of projects that various groups and organizations are working on.  Providing dedicated resources to ODNR is critical to maintaining this website content.

  1. Updated State Trail Plan & Designated Trails System (October 2018)

This project is critical for appropriate planning of local, regional, state and interstate trail connections.  Importantly, this will also provide a benchmark for establishing funding and other policy initiatives.  The Ohio Trails Partnership is prepared to support this initiative, highlighting Ohio as an “Epic Destination” and positioning the Buckeye State as a leader in supporting trail networks.

  1. State Agency Capacity Building (November 2018)

ODNR, ODOT, ODSA (TourismOhio), ODH and other state agencies must be equipped with the resources to develop important tools, facilitate trail-related activities and ensure safety and innovative transportation solutions.  It is important to evaluate these agencies capabilities and needs to determine how the state legislature can best support the work of these agencies.

  1. Statewide Economic Impact Study (December 2018)

Making the case for trail networks and highlighting the tourism and other economic benefits of trails are main drivers for this initiative.  Active transportation and recreational benefits as well as public health cost savings should be contemplated in this study.

MID-TERM (2019-2020) GOALS

The completion of the OLTC’s short-term goals will help to focus these Year 2 goals:

  1. Create a State Active Transportation Program to Accelerate Trail Network Development
  2. Establish a Dedicated Trail Maintenance Funding Source
  3. Expand Funding for Trail Network Development, including the Clean Ohio (Trails) Fund

Potential funding mechanisms could include bonds, gas tax increases, dedicating recreation-related sales tax revenues to trails and other dedicated funding sources/strategies.

Learn more about the Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus via these blogs --

Caucus Kicks Off Year of the Trails

Caucus Promotes Trail Connectivity