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A Community Without Trails

Written By: Jay Howard, Trails Program Manager

Imagine for a moment, your community, your world, without trails. Come with me on this brief mental journey and I promise I won’t leave you there, but instead will propose a solution once we near the end of the trail (so to speak), and shine a light on something happening right here in the Truckee Meadows!

A community without trails and pathways.

No where to walk when you need a little alone time with your thoughts..

No where to spend some time with that special partner or friend…

No where to exercise or work off the excesses of that last holiday meal…

No where to just be with nature…the great outdoors.

A community without trails and pathways won’t have the benefits that trails give. Even if those benefits are not often thought of, they are still benefits that we all enjoy.

Health and Social: Studies show that there is a direct and significant correlation between how close people live to biking and walking trails, and the amount of weekly exercise they get. People that live within a mile of trails get up to 45 minutes more exercise a week. And of course this results in lower medical costs. In fact, a Heart Association study shows that $1 invested in new trails results in $3 saved in medical costs. And the social benefits of being with friends and family on trails is super important, if not oftentimes immeasurable.

Quality of Life: Put simply, the more high-quality outdoor opportunities a person has access to, the more positively they see their personal circumstances. Life is better with trails!

Economic Impacts: Trails drive economic success in a number of ways. Trails not only cause property values to increase, but businesses near trails flourish, and trail tourism provides an influx of money to communities, as well as jobs. In 2018, it was estimated that the outdoor industry generated 887 Billion dollars. Trails are at the heart of the outdoor industry!

Environmental Benefits: Lastly, but not least important, are the environmental benefits. Trails protect important habitats and provide corridors for people and wildlife. Have you ever met a bear walking along a backcountry trail? This might not happen that often, but trail cams definitely show that wildlife use trails for moving around. Trails provide a well designed and built alignment that keep people from having unintended impacts to the places animals live too, with people tending to stay on trails and not stray through the wilderness. Plants and watersheds are protected as well.

So here’s the good news. Our Truckee Meadows community has plenty of great trails. And there are a number of land management agencies and professionals, as well as highly energized volunteers and non-profit organizations, doing great trail work in the Truckee Meadows. But, these agencies, groups, and volunteers are short staffed, underfunded, and run into seemingly insurmountable environmental clearance and management issues with respect to trails. Agencies and groups do not coordinate well either on trail projects that cross jurisdictional lines.

And the even better news, there is currently an effort here in the Truckee Meadows called the Truckee Meadows Trails Initiative (TMT).

TMT is a community-led effort designed to improve the range of opportunities for residents and visitors by identifying and establishing non-motorized routes for greater trail connectivity in the Truckee Meadows region. It seeks to bring together agencies, non-profit groups, and the public for one coordinated and effective effort in creating this trail system, and to use the very important Power of Partnership. The initiative started in 2017 with a coalition of land managers, government agencies, non-profits, and private businesses that all came together to create the TMT Plan and Report. The plan outlines a vision of a healthy Truckee Meadows community connected by trails and provides a framework for completing future projects.

Recreation and trails are a way of life in the Truckee Meadows. Our community is growing with new citizens, companies, and visitors all coming to the area in large part for the outdoor recreation opportunities. With all this growth comes a need for investment in a sustainable trail network that connects communities with parks, open space, and surrounding public land. Trails can play an integral role in economic development, health benefits, environmental benefits, and quality of life. In order to realize this vision, we need your help.

So, now you know! Please join us by supporting our efforts, and reach out to the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation to learn more about how you can help!


About the Author:

Jay is our new Trails Program Manager, and will be working to implement the goals of the Truckee Meadows Trails Initiative. He comes to us after a 30 year career with Nevada State Parks. His time with State Parks involved several years being a recreation specialist for the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team, and 13 years as park supervisor for Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park (Sand Harbor, Spooner Lake and Backcountry, Cave Rock, and Van Sickle). Jay loves the outdoors and is an avid hiker and mountain biker. And let's not forget, professional volunteer. Jay enjoys working with the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society and Tahoe Mountain Bike Patrol.


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