trails library quality of life overview

Transcript

1 Spring 2016 http://headwaterseconomics.org Measuring Trails Benefits: Quality of Life How do trails affect quality of life? Trails can measurably improve a community’s quality of life by providing opportunities for social connection, and safe places for recreation and commuting. Trails are an amenity that keeps existing residents and attracts new people; an asset that contributes to community identity. When residents use trails frequently, they become an integral part of community life. These benefits focus on residents, rather than visitors. As such, the trails that can bring the greatest benefits to residents often are close to where people live and work, providing physical connections within a community. Although community trails may not attract visitors who spend money in local businesses, they are an invaluable component of cities and towns across the U.S. These benefits cannot be measured in dollars, but, as the following research highlights demonstrate, the benefits can be measured in other ways. Additional details on each of these topics, as well as other relevant research, are available at http://headwaterseconomics.org/trail. How to use this information: Select Research Highlights This research is intended to County, Washington , 95 percent of long-time residents—many of • In Whatcom help community leaders better whom are mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners—state that trails are important understand the potential social 1 to their decision to stay in the area. benefits of trails for residents. • Bloomington, Indiana , property owners adjacent to trails most commonly In several one of This summary is identified convenience and access to recreation, physical fitness, social connection, handouts describing the state o f 2 and connection to the natural environment as benefits of living near trails. to the benefits research related of trails. The oth er summaries Jackson, Wyoming • In , nine out of ten respondents use pathways and trails. Residents address: use area pathways and trails every other day in the summer and every three days in the winter. Ninety-six percent of residents stated that outdoor recreation was an • Public health 3 important factor in their decision to move to or stay in the area. • Business impacts Missoula, Montana In • , 86 percent of residents had used city parks in the previous • Property value 12 months. Seventy-three percent of respondents used hiking trails, 56 percent used • General benefits paved commuter trails, and 49 percent used natural area/wildlife habitat within the 4 past year. • Access ers a succinct This series off , one-third of residents ranked recreational Methow Valley, Washington In • review of common benefits opportunities as the top reason why they moved to the area. Ninety-three percent 0+ studies identified in th e 1 3 of residents reported that the trail network was either the most important (63%) or in Headwaters Economics’ free, 5 an important (30%) factor in their decision to purchase real estate in the valley. online, searchab le Trails Benefit s Library. http://headwaterseconomics.org | Spring 2016 | 1 Measuring Trails Benefits Series: Quality of Life

2 • Along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Virginia , 95 percent of trail users come from counties adjacent to the trail. Nearly all (93%) respondents identified health benefits from the trail as having high importance. A safe place to recreate The strong had the next-highest ranking (73%). The opportunity to view nature (60%) and 6 fostering a sense of community (47%) had the next-highest importance level. use of trails • Along three trails in rural northern and eastern Nebraska and western Iowa , 74 percent of respondents indicated that they used the nearby trails for recreation daily, and pathways weekly or occasionally. Sixty-eight percent said the trails had a positive impact on 7 their community. demonstrates that Methods public and private Measuring the role trails play in residents’ quality of life is often done using a combination of surveys and user counts. funds have been Survey data generally are obtained via either user surveys conducted on a specific trail or general surveys of residents conducted via mail, phone, or the Internet. Findings well-invested from surveys conducted with trail users only can only be extrapolated to trail users. Findings from random surveys of area residents can be extrapolated to the broader in creating, community. These surveys can be used to learn about trail use, the role trails play in users’ daily maintaining and life, reasons for moving to or staying in the area, and aspects of a trail that could be improved. The studies summarized here provide examples of the types of questions completing the to ask and how to interpret the findings. User surveys are often conducted in conjunction with user counts along trails. User communit y ’s counts can be conducted using volunteers stationed at trailheads and other access points, or by using remote technology allowing representative sampling of more sites trails during a longer period of time. Original studies and additional details on methods can be found in the Trails Benefits and pathways. http://headwaterseconomics.org/trail. Library at - RRC Associates, 2015 Contact Megan Lawson, Ph.D. [email protected] , 406.570.7475. Footnotes 1 Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition. 2014. 2014 WMBC Rider Survey. 2 Corning, S., R. Mowatt, and H. Chancellor. 2012. “Multiuse Trails: Benefits and Concerns of Residents and Property Owners.” Journal of Urban Planning and Development 138(4): 277-285. 3 RRC Associates. 2015. Jackson Hole Pathways and Trails Survey. Prepared for Teton County, WY; Friends of Pathways; Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce; Town of Jackson, WY; Headwaters Economics. Boulder, CO: RRC Associates. 4 Leisure Vision and PROS Consulting. 2011. Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey: Findings Report. Missoula County and City of Missoula, Montana. 5 Resource Dimensions. 2005. Economic Impacts of MVSTA Trails and Land Resources in the Methow Valley. Methow Valley Sport Trails Association. 6 Bowker, J., Bergstrom, J., Gill, J., and Lemanski, U. 2004. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics. USDA Forest Service, University of Georgia and National Park Service. 7 Greer, D.L. 2001. Nebraska Rural Trails: Three Studies of Trail Impact. School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, University of Nebraska at Omaha. http://headwaterseconomics.org | Spring 2016 | 2 Measuring Trails Benefits Series: Quality of Life

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