The 2016 trail season is off to a great start, and various projects throughout the Industrial Heartland Trails (IHTC) region are moving forward.
From potentially four miles of the Sheepskin trail being constructed in Fayette County, Pa., to a new rail trail group forming in Harrison County, W.Va., to stakeholders in Erie County holding some very exciting meetings to assess the community potential for trail connectivity, the region is moving closer to its goal of bringing “a million smiles for 1,400 miles” by 2033.
Within IHTC itself, we have been sweating the small details to make sure we are on track to reach our 2033 goal. Leading that charge with PEC has been the Project Support Team (PST), made up of representatives from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), and National Park Service’s Recreation and Trails and Conservation Assistance program (RTCA).
This has meant looking at what information we are tracking and how that might be useful in closing the remaining gaps. The PST will use this work to again do a gap analysis of the network and better refine our mapping information on GoToTrails.com. RTC is in the midst of its year-long trail data count throughout the region, which will be paired with new user modeling tools to make very accurate projections of visitor potential of new trails. All of this will help make the case for more opportunities and funding.
To share this information and celebrate our success to this point, IHTC will be holding a Summit on November 4 at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township, Pa. This will be the first opportunity to gather all of the partners, trail groups, and advocates since the Forks of the Ohio Conference and the first time that the group has gathered as the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition.
The focus of the meeting will be less on the mechanics of how to build a trail and more on how to leverage the network to make the local trail dreams a success. With some 115 different groups involved in the project, the chance to network and exchange information in itself will make this an important event to attend.