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Ten Steps to total trails

American Trails is working for the future of trails, greenways, and open space in America.

arrow From the Summer 2008 American Trails Magazine.

By Robert Searns, Chair, American Trails Board

family on trail
A family enjoying a community trail

On behalf of all Americans who want a better quality of life, more livable cities, healthier and fitter adults and children, and better stewardship of our land and resources, we submit these Ten Steps. This compilation was crafted at the 2006 National Trails Symposium by the membership of American Trails (over 500 trail advocates and professionals).

We thank all who participated in this heartfelt and creative effort, and look forward to revisiting the Ten Steps at the upcoming National Trails Symposium in Little Rock. We encourage the vigorous pursuit of this vision for this and future generations.

1. Promote Connections in Our Communities
Trail and greenway infrastructure that connects people and places in our neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions— readily accessible within 15 minutes walking distance of every American.

2. Create a National Trails Network/System
An integrated trails network at all levels: linking cities, states, and regions of the United States and North America, as well as trails accessing National Parks, National Forests and other public lands.

3. Commit Sustainable Funding
Ongoing, sustainable revenue stream to fund and offer incentives to create trails and greenways. Includes federal funds and programs: Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program, USDA Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) programs, Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets.

4. Expand Environmental Education
Environmental education as an integral part of a national and local school curricula at every level.

5. Associate Trails with Health and Fitness
Trails are, and should be, a significant part of community health and fitness programs.

6. Encourage All Americans to Participate
Provide opportunities for the American people to give back— helping to plan, fund, and work on trails in our neighborhoods and parks as well as on state and federal lands.

7. Promote Sustainable Transportation
Alternative modes of travel that lessen dependence on foreign oil and reduce CO2 emissions contributing to climate change.

8. Engage, Motivate Youth
Promote stewardship with youth conservation/trail building corps.

9. Promote Access and Accessibility
An accessible, safe system for all abilities within easy reach of all homes and places of employment.

10. Build Trail and Greenway Partnerships
Trails and greenways created as vital infrastructure working with homebuilders and developers, transportation, utility, flood, and fire control agencies, and others with mutual benefit.

American Trails works through education, partnerships, and timely information resources to promote the creation, conservation and broad enjoyment of quality trails and greenways. Read more about our mission and efforts for trails for all Americans on our website at


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