trail use

New Team to Lead CT Trail Census Data & Education Program

NEW TEAM TO LEAD CONNECTICUT TRAIL CENSUS DATA COLLECTION AND EDUCATION PROGRAM

The University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension is pleased to welcome Charles Tracy as the new Coordinator, and Ryan Faulkner as the new Project Specialist of the Connecticut Trail Census Program. The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program that operates on trails across the state. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared pedestrian counters and trail user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers, and disseminates trail use information through public education programs.

Charles Tracy
Charles Tracy

“Connecticut’s diverse trail networks are among the state’s most scenic, valuable and enduring assets,” said Tracy. “Connecticut’s trails support public health, promote community, provide alternative transportation, encourage tourism, and strengthen the economy. I’m looking forward to developing an accurate and compelling picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and then finding creative ways to share that picture to advance and inform new trail design and construction throughout the state.”

“We’re thrilled to have such an amazing team on board to continue and grow this work,” said Census team member Laura Brown with UConn Extension. “The new staff will focus on developing new partnerships with public and private organizations in areas such as economic development, health, and transportation who have an interest in trails but might not have engaged with the trail user community before. We’ll also be increasing our educational programs to help communities and leaders make better use of this valuable data.”

The Trail Census encourages data informed decision-making and promotes active citizen participation in multi-use trail monitoring and advocacy. It has operated since 2017 and in 2018 the Census documented an estimated 1,449,220 uses on the 16 participating sites. The program has since grown to over 20 participating data collection sites across the state. The program received $206,043 in funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program to continue work through 2019.

Charles Tracy has been leading community and regional trail development and landscape conservation initiatives throughout New England since 1988 and will be retiring from his current position as a National Park Service landscape architect. Tracy has been superintendent of the New England National Scenic Trail and national lead for NPS art partnerships. He holds master’s degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts and in classics from the University of Texas. 

Ryan Faulkner joins the Census after nearly two years of contributions as a project intern while completing his BA in

Ryan Faulkner
Ryan Faulkner

Economics from UConn in 2017. He is currently a Master’s Degree Candidate in Geography at Central Connecticut State University.

“I look forward to forming closer relationships with our volunteers and partners,” Ryan said. “It’s exciting to now have the resources and staff to take the Trail Census to the next level. Trails are a keystone to building a prosperous and healthy Connecticut, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this coming year.” 

The Trail Census is statewide and serves community leaders and decision makers including local elected officials, planners, economic development professionals, trail advocates, trail maintenance professionals, environmental, health and outdoor activity advocates, as well as the general public. The program was developed as a partnership program between UConn Extension, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, the Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trail advocacy organizations. The project is advised by a volunteer steering committee. For more information or to get involved visitcttrailcensus.uconn.edu.

Personal Safety on the Trail

Equestrians riding out onto the trail at Bluff Point State Park in Groton, Connecticut
Photo: Stacey Stearns

All trail users should follow basic tips for personal safety. These tips can also be adapted to other situations.

1. Be aware of your surroundings and other people on the trails and in parking lots. Do not wear head- phones or earbuds.

2. Park in well-lit areas and lock the doors of your vehicle, and trailer for equestrians.

3. If possible, don’t go alone. Walk or ride with a friend. If you think someone is following you, go towards public areas.

4. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Share your route with them.

5. Carry your cell phone, but be aware that you might not have cell phone service in all areas.

6. Carry a map. Know your route, and carry the map anyway.

7. Carry pepper spray for protection if it makes you feel more comfortable.

8. Wear blaze orange or reflective material during hunting season.

9. Carry water and sunscreen.
10.
Pay attention to trail markers so you can identify your location.

Download our brochure for more information on trail etiquette.

This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.

Trail Use: Leave No Trace

trail users on a trail in Connecticut, people walking way into the woods
Photo: Virginia Raff

Connecticut has a wealth of trails for us to enjoy, from state parks and forests to local land trusts. As you’re out there enjoying the trails, it’s key to practice the principles of Leave No Trace.

The seven principles of the Leave No Trace program are:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more information on these principles and other resources visit LNT.org.

For more information on trail etiquette, download our brochure.

This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.

Trail Etiquette 101

bicycle on trailHeaded out on the trails? Trail safety and etiquette is vital on our trails for all users, including bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians. Be courteous to other trail users. Here are some simple steps to follow.

What does “Yield” mean?

Yielding means slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop if necessary, and pass in a safe and friendly manner.

All Trail Users

  • Avoid Wet Trails. Minimize trail erosion and ecological impact around wet trails by walking/ biking/riding through the center of the trail, even if muddy, to keep the trail narrow.
  • Stay on the Trail. Do not go off trail (even to pass), create new trails, or cut switchbacks. Narrow trails mean less environmental impact and happier critters.
  • Respect. If you offer respect, you are more likely to receive it. All user groups have rights and responsibilities to our trails, and to each other.
  • Don’t Block the Trail. When taking a break, move to the side of the trail.
  • Smile. Greet. Nod. Every user on the trail is a fellow nature lover. Be friendly and expect to see other folks around every corner.
  • Travel on the right side of the trail, and pass on the left.
  • Remain Attentive. If you wear headphones, keep the volume down, or only wear one earpiece so you can hear other trail users.
  • Expect the Unexpected. Humans and animals can be unpredictable.

For Walkers, Hikers, Runners

  • Keep dogs on a short leash. Other trail users may be frightened by dogs or be unsure how to pass safely.
  • Dog poop on the trail is a major complaint among other trail users. Clean up after your dog, and take the waste home to dispose it. UConn Extension educator Dave Dickson explains why it’s important to scoop poop: http://s.uconn.edu/4gg.
  • Yield to equestrians.

For Bicyclists

  • You move fast – and many other trail users will be startled, especially if you approach from behind. Greet other trail users early to alert them of your presence.
  • Anticipate other trail users around blind corners.
  • Yield to hikers and equestrians.

For Equestrians

  • Communicate your needs. Most people aren’t familiar with horses and are intimidated by them – let other trail users know what will help make the situation safer for everyone.
  • Slow down to a walk to pass other trail users.
  • Clean up any manure your horse may leave at trail heads and on trails whenever possible.

Download the brochure: http://bit.ly/TrailEtq 

This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.