Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is, pardon the pun, blazing the trail when it comes to evaluating and promoting the economic impact that rail-trails can have on the communities they connect to.
When it comes to making the case for continued investment in trails, nothing is as persuasive as the hard evidence that destination trails bring trail users who bring dollars and cents to small communities, many of which are often struggling for sustainable commercial markets.
RTC's Manager of Trail Development in the Northeast, Carl Knoch, is a pioneer in the field of trail user surveys and capturing information about spending and visitation patterns. In the late 1990s, his research on trails in York County, Pennsylvania, helped make the case for investments in the region's trail network, and he continues this critical work with similar studies of spending and user data on trails throughout the Northeast.
Now, as the residents and businesses of Laconia, New Hampshire, seek to further develop the Winnisquam, Opechee and Winnipesaukee (WOW) Trail, they have tapped into the experience of Knoch and RTC to generate crucial local and regional support.
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, at Pitman's Freight Room in Laconia, Knoch will present 'Capturing the Economic Potential of Rail Trails,' to WOW organizers, the Laconia Main Street Initiative and interested locals.
The WOW Trail is a developing trail that runs within an active railroad corridor in scenic central New Hampshire. Today, only 1.3 miles of trail are open for public use. However additional development phases are planned to eventually bring the trail to nine miles in length, connecting it with an existing trail in nearby Belmont and greatly expanding the trail's utility and appeal.
For more information about RTC's promotion of trail development in the Northeast, visit:www.railstotrails.org