Missouri Trails Alliance update--Missouri: The Trails State?
"Missouri: The Trails State"--what do you think? Could that become our new state slogan?
A couple of years ago at the Missouri Trails Summit, a group of organizations and agencies from around Missouri interested in the state's trails system decided to band together to create a Missouri Trails Alliance. The first big project of the Alliance was to create a Missouri Statewide Trails plan.
The lack of a comprehensive statewide trails plan has been a huge problem in Missouri, and creating a statewide trails plan is one of the top goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.
A statewide census of existing trails
As the various organizations talked--particularly those agencies that build, maintain, and own trails--it soon became evident that Missouri has a huge trail resource already on the ground.
Missouri has thousands of miles of trails of all types--multi-use trails, mountain biking trails, hiking trails, equestrian trails, even water trails. But no one has every made a complete census of those trails and there is no central location where you can go to find a list of all Missouri trails or the trails in your area.
That makes Missouri trails a huge but unknown and untapped resource.
We have 360 miles on the Ozark Trail, 1300 miles of trail owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 750 miles in Mark Twain National Forest--and on and on through dozens of federal, state, and local agencies.
So the Missouri Trails Alliance members made some ambitious goals:
- Create a comprehensive Statewide Trails Plan
- As the first step towards that plan, create a census of existing trails in Missouri
- Make that trail information available to the public on a web site and in a searchable way
This is a huge project and a number of key groups with a vision of why this is important as a statewide effort have dedicated considerable funding and resources to make this happen.
Work towards an online, central database of all Missouri trails
Here is the current status--as reported by Jan Neitzert, Executive Director of the Missouri Park and Recreation Association, which is acting as coordinating agency for the new Alliance:
- Generous contributions have all been received from partners for the project, the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department, the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and Great Rivers Greenway District.
- A website development vendor has been chosen. They are currently working on a Website Design and Database Design for the new Missouri Trails website.
- The project has been selected to receive a $25,000 Education Grant through the Missouri's Recreational Trails Program.
So stay tuned--considerable work has been done behind the scenes to collect and collate the trails data. Work on the website to make the trails database public and searchable is moving forward as we speak.
What this means for trail lovers around Missouri
The statewide trails database will help people find and use trails around the state. A statewide Comprehensive Trails Plan will help encourage development of new trails and particularly help to develop trail connections and networks, such as those proposed by the Quad State Trail Plan and MoBikeFed's Missouri Trail Network Map:
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