Trails for America Every Where, Every Way, Every Day!The theme for the 2006 Symposium is Trails for America: Every Where, Every Way, Every Day. The story of America's trails is as old as the story of America. Transcending time, linking past with future, trails weave into the fabric of our lives yesterday, today and tomorrow. Whether for transportation, recreation, conservation, or health, when we use a trail we go beyond the workaday world into the essential realm of viewing life as an unfolding gift. Connecting us to ourselves, to each other, to the land, and to our shared histories and cultures is the way of trails in America.
Our conception of trails has grown from city sidewalks to linear linkages, curving into long-distance loops connecting communities. Trail coverage expanded with stories of economic development, improving quality of life, and personal dreams of discovery from coast to coast. Visions now come in colors of green and blue ways, with wide open-eyed vistas beyond the narrow focused gray track beside the road.
The future of trails will follow our expanding definition of what a trail can be. Remember the Appalachian Trail. Think Mississippi River Trail. Think numerous trail corridors miles wide offering views beyond the artificial lines drawn on a map. Trails can be more than just mini-roads connecting urban areas, more than transportation, recreation, and escape routes.
Trails have an even bigger role yet to play in the future of our country. Imagine trails as part of and providing migration corridors and "global warming freeways" for biological and genetic material to adjust, evolve, and move freely within the landscape we all call home. We need "restoration routes" giving back the way for species recovery and providing healthy habitats for humans.
Trails can be used by and for more than just people. We must realize that public recreation and parks along with trail development is not just to provide access for people but are a way to educate, appreciate and maintain our diminishing natural resources.
The mission is more than stimulating the economy, tourism, and increasing property values. It is about developing a place for healthy people. To have healthy people we need healthy places for other species. Trails need to be thought of as part of a larger landscape and managed as part of the infrastructure, which includes the natural resources and the man-made environment. Our job as trail managers, developers, and advocates is to enlarge the appreciation and development of trails for all species and for generations to come.
Won by Joe Walker, from Denton, Texas:
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Updated November 19, 2006
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