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Software, training funded for trail assessment

The Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) is an inventory tool for land managers to prioritize maintenance and evaluate trails for accessibility. Data collected during the assessment can be used to provide objective information trail users' about conditions, such as grade, tread width, features, obstacles, and trail surface.

Beneficial Designs developed UTAP with land management agencies and organizations focused on accessibility; several are now using it to assess trails. As UTAP has evolved over the last eight years, the need to expand how the process is taught and used has become evident. Beneficial Designs is pleased to announce that funding has been received to create software for managing UTAP data and also to develop an educational program to increase the number of UTAP Trainers.

TrailWare (software) &endash; Funded by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research at the National Institutes of Health through the Small Business Innovation Research grant program.

UTAP Train-the-Trainer &endash; Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service under the Small Business Innovation Research program.

In addition, a searchable trails database website, Trail Explorer, is being created to allow people to search for trails based on grade, cross slope, tread width, and surface type, as well as other relevant information that is useful to trail users with and without disabilities.

If you'd like to help review the programs, or become a UTAP Trainer, contact Beneficial Designs at 5858 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz CA 95060; (831) 429-8447;

Trail Explorer website is in evaluation phase

The Trail Explorer access information being published on the Internet will make it easier for people of all abilities to participate in outdoor recreation. Much new trails information is being added as agencies and trail groups provide data from the UTAP trail evaluation process. California, for instance is providing information on the trails in all of its State Parks.

Feedback from recreation agencies, trail user groups, and persons with mobility and visual limitations will be used to refine the features of the website. A stand-alone, robust web server will be created and optimized for speed and usability. American Trails will help with further development of the site.

Go to to see how the trail database works. More information is available at

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