Headwaters-staff-Megan-LawsonMegan Lawson, Ph.D.

Megan uses economic and demographic analysis to better understand the issues communities face, particularly related to land use, outdoor recreation, sustaining a diverse economy, and changing demographic and income trends. Megan holds a Ph.D. and Masters in Economics from the University of Colorado, and has a B.A. in Biology from Williams College.

Report

Benefits of a Frontage Path in Gallatin County, Montana

Updated: This report describes the benefits of a frontage path--a proposed paved, multi-use pathway connecting Belgrade and Bozeman along an approximately ten-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 10 in Gallatin County.

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trails research
Report

Trails Research and Searchable Benefits Library

— Headwaters Economics compiled more than 130 trails research studies on the impacts of trails in a single library, searchable by type of benefit, use, year, and region.

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Report

Economic Challenges and Opportunities in Taos County

— The economic challenges and opportunities in Taos County stem from being both a bustling mountain resort town, and a rural community facing long-term socioeconomic challenges.

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Trail Study

Park-Based Afterschool Program to Improve Cardiovascular Health and Physical Fitness in Children with Disabilities

— In Miami-Dade County, Florida, an afterschool, park-based program is effective in improving physical fitness among a sample of 52 children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Afterschool programs may be an effective strategy to increase physical activity among disabled children, who tend to be less physically active than their non-disabled peers.

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Trail Study

Children with Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park

— A formal walking program for children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) finds that low-intensity walks in an urban park are associated with significantly greater improvement in cognitive function than similar walks in residential or downtown settings. The improvements measured are on par with improvements associated with the most typical medications prescribed for ADHD, and cognitive performance for participants after walking is comparable to the average performance of children who have not been diagnosed with ADHD.

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Trail Study

Reducing Childhood Obesity Through Coordinated Care: Development of a Park Prescription Program

— In Miami-Dade County, Florida, researchers evaluated the structure of a pilot project connecting children, families, and their pediatricians to a park-based afterschool program. This study describes important factors encouraging ongoing support from participating families and pediatricians, as well as ways to measure the effectiveness of prescription parks programs.

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Trail Study

Impact of a Park-Based Afterschool Program Replicated Over Five Years on Modifiable Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

— A daily afterschool program in Miami-Dade County, Florida observes significant decreases in body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure between the beginning and end of the school year. Findings from this research suggest consistent, long-term afterschool programs can effectively reduce childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk.

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Trail Study

Examining Group Walks in Nature and Multiple Aspects of Well-Being: A Large-Scale Study

— In this large-scale study of participants in a formal walking program in the U.K., researchers find that participants in nature-based group walks are less likely to report experiencing depression, perceived stress, and negative affect, and report greater overall mental well-being. By comparing a large sample of participants and non-participants over time, the authors overcome some inherent challenges in measuring the effectiveness of these types of programs.

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Trail Study

Enchanted Circle Trails: Final Survey Results

— In Taos, New Mexico, Hispanic residents and low-income residents are less likely to have used trails during the previous year, but those who have used trails during the previous year use them just as often as other (non-Hispanic) residents. Among low-income residents, those with a park or trail within a 10-minute walk of their house were 50 percent more likely to have used trails during the previous year.

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Trail Study

Parks and Park Funding in Los Angeles: An Equity-Mapping Analysis

— In Los Angeles, historic land use policies that emphasized low-density housing and did not prioritize public park spaces have led to significant inequities of park access across race, ethnicity, and income. A fund designed to improve access to public parks could exacerbate this problem unless it considers proposals for nontraditional public spaces such as schoolyards and vacant lots, because there is very little available park space in the most underserved neighborhoods.

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Trail Study

Childhood Obesity and Proximity to Urban Parks and Recreational Resources: A Longitudinal Cohort Study

— By following a large sample of children over time, this study demonstrates that children who participate in recreation programs, or who live a walkable distance from parks, are much less likely to be obese or overweight. These benefits can be achieved through formal parks and programs, but also through accessible green space or other small, informal places that encourage informal play.

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Trail Study

Effect of Exposure to Natural Environment on Health Inequalities: An Observational Population Study

— Research has established that low-income people tend to have higher mortality rates than high-income residents. This study across all of England demonstrates that this gap in mortality rate is about half the size in areas with the most green space compared to areas with the least green space.

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Trail Study

Neighborhood Income Matters: Disparities in Community Recreation Facilities, Amenities, and Programs

— At a sample of recreation centers in southern California, researchers find that several measures of facility condition and amenities are better in high-income neighborhoods relative to low-income neighborhoods. The likelihood that a child uses the recreation center increases 23 percent for each $10,000 increase in neighborhood income, but the authors do not find a relationship between the quality of the facility and participation rates.

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Trail Study

Neighborhood Poverty, Park Use, and Park-Based Physical Activity in a Southern California City

— A large study of 50 urban parks in Southern California measures park use by nearby residents and other users across high-, medium-, and low-poverty areas, finding that parks are used less in high-poverty areas. Those who do use parks in high-poverty areas, however, on average use the parks more per week, are more likely to see familiar people in the parks, and use the parks more when there are more staff present.

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federal lands data visualization
DataViz

Federal Lands in the Rural West: Liability or Asset?

— Rural counties in the West with more federal lands performed better on average than their peers with less federal lands in four key economic measures. Explore the trends and exceptions across the rural West.

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Report

Dam Removal Case Studies

— Six dam removal case studies on the fiscal, economic, environmental, and social benefits of dam removal.

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Report

Taos Trails Are Popular But Trail Access Varies

— In the Taos, New Mexico area trails are a fundamental part of health and quality of life, but differences in access to trails may limit the benefits for Hispanic and low-income residents.

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Trail Study

Comparing the Costs and Health Benefits of a Proposed Rail Trail

— In rural Nova Scotia, a proposed trail is expected to increase substantially the amount of physical activity of local residents, with over half of respondents predicting increased physical activity due to the trail. For every dollar spent constructing the trail, it is expected to generate at least $2 in avoided health care costs.

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Trail Study

D&L Trail 2012 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis

— In eastern Pennsylvania, the D&L Trail receives approximately 283,000 visits annually, nearly half of whom report using the trail at least once a week. Although the economic impact estimates likely are significantly overstated, the trail’s effect on nearby residents’ health is a substantial, valuable asset.

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Trail Study

Oregon Snowmobiler Participation and Priorities

— Across Oregon, snowmobilers account for approximately 353,000 user days per year and $15 million in spending associated with snowmobile trips. Respondents are most concerned about the availability of backcountry, off-trail riding opportunities and sustaining access to existing riding areas.

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Trail Study

Outdoor Recreation Scarcity and Abundance in Western Oregon: A Spatial Analysis

— Across western Oregon, there is substantial variation in how well the supply of hiking, mountain biking, and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails meets demand for these trails by local users. Although some communities have many miles of trails, such as the 146 miles of mountain biking trails within 60 minutes of Portland, the supply of trails may be too low to support the number of people using them.

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Trail Study

Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Participation and Priorities

— Across Oregon, off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders account for approximately 3.1 million days of riding per year and nearly $100 million in spending. Sixty percent of respondents support increasing the OHV registration fee from $10 to $15, and more than half identify the maintenance of existing trails as the most important funding priority.

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Trail Study

Bonner County Trails Final Survey Results

— In rural Bonner County in northern Idaho, trails are used by three-quarters of residents an average of every day in the summer and every other day in the winter. Trail use is high for all residents, even accounting for differences in the length of residence in the county, income, and age. Business owners are more likely to identify trails as an important factor in their decision to move to the county.

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Trail Study

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail: Economic Impacts and Implications for Sustainable Community Development

— Across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine, the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) draws 90,000 users annually. Although most users visit areas with other attractions and established tourist infrastructure like hotels and restaurants, the smaller number of visitors to remote parts of the trail bring valuable outside spending.

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Trail Study

Evaluating the Economic Benefits and Future Opportunities of the Maine Island Trail Association

— Along the coast, the Maine Island Trail connects 183 islands along 375 miles of coastline, attracting 11,385 users per year who bring $553,000 in new spending to the area. This is an excellent example of an economic impact study that carefully identifies new spending that would not have occurred without the trail, as opposed to spending that would happen regardless of the trail’s presence.

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Trail Study

Impact of All-Terrain Vehicle Access on the Demand for a Proposed Trail

— In rural Nova Scotia, a proposed trail is predicted to attract 160,000 users per year. Because motorized vehicle use is expected to diminish the quality of non-motorized users’ experience, allowing all-terrain vehicles on the trail is predicted to cut the number of total visits in half.

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Trail Study

Happy Trails: The Effect of a Media Campaign on Urban Trail Use in Southern Nevada

— A media campaign to promote a trails information site in Las Vegas, Nevada appears to have significantly increased trail use across most trails studied. The size of the gain in trail use appears to be independent of trail lighting, landscaping, and trail length.

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Trail Study

Erie to Pittsburgh Trail 2013 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis

— The Erie Pittsburgh Trail, a network of six connected rail trails in rural northwest Pennsylvania, draw 158,507 users each year. Nine of ten trail users are from Pennsylvania and more than half of all users are riding bikes.

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Trail Study

The Economic Impact of the Erie Canalway Trail: An Assessment and User Profile of New York’s Longest Multi-Use Trail

— Across upstate New York, the 277-mile Erie Canalway Trail is associated with 1.6 million annual visits, only three percent of which come from outside the region. However, because those non-locals spend large amounts on lodging, the trail generates more than $55 million in spending annually.

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Trail Study

Determinants of Demand for Recreational Walking Trails in Ireland

— Visitors to walking trails in rural Ireland are likely to spend more to visit flat or valley trails, as well as trails that have signage and maps. The authors use the results to evaluate a set of proposed trails to identify those most likely to bring the most visitors and generate the greatest economic impact.

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Trail Study

Behavioral Effects of Completing a Critical Link in the American Tobacco Trail

— In Durham, North Carolina, a bicycle-pedestrian bridge was built to connect two previously separate segments of a regional trail, leading to a 133 percent increase in trail use after its construction. This new connection allows the researchers to demonstrate a substantial increase in physical activity attributable to the bridge, with significant public health benefits for trail users.

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Report

Survey Finds Trails Valued Across Bonner County

— Survey provides information on Bonner County's trail system and will help prioritize improvements based on resident usage, satisfaction, reasons for living in the area.

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Trail Study

The Impacts of Central Ohio Trails

— This thorough study of a 111-mile regional trail network around Columbus, Ohio found that trail users travelled roughly 11.9 million miles in 2014, mostly by bicycle. Higher population density, easy access from neighborhoods, connection to other trails, and longer trails are associated with greater use.

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Trail Study

2012 Pennsylvania Recreational Water Trails Economic Impact Study A Four-Trail Case Study

— Water trails in Pennsylvania are popular with resident anglers and paddlers, as are shoreline activities like picnicking and wildlife viewing. A sample of four of the state’s 21 water trails were associated with 14,000 visitor days over a six-week period in late summer, and $537,000 in spending.

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Trail Study

Adapting To the New Economy: The Impacts of Mountain Bike Tourism in Oakridge, Oregon

— Mountain biking in Oakridge, Oregon contributes substantial economic activity to a small, isolated community deeply affected by the loss of timber jobs. Although the recent rapid growth in the area’s popularity has some residents concerned about cultural change, user conflicts, and environmental concerns, the author is confident these challenges can be overcome.

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Trail Study

Economic Benefits of Mountain Bike Tourism for Santa Cruz County

— This report on the potential for mountain bike tourism in Santa Cruz County, California demonstrates how trail advocates can use existing research studies to help make a case for trail development in their community. The authors argue that the presence of significant bike industry companies, a large existing social trail network, and appealing climate and terrain create a strong potential for mountain bike tourism.

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Trail Study

Oregon Non-Motorized Trail Participation and Priorities

— Non-motorized trail users in Oregon account for 162.3 million user days per year, and the vast majority of these days are spent walking or hiking. While these recreation days are associated with substantial expenditures, the amount spent per person per day and the total economic impact vary greatly within the state.

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Trail Study

The economic impacts and uses of long-distance trails

— Although visitor spending per day along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail in western Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina is relatively low, the large number of visitors generates substantial economic impact. However, much of this spending is likely due to the attraction of specific historic sites and not the trail, because relatively few visitors were aware that the historic sites are connected to a larger regional trail.

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Trail Study

The Economic Impacts of Active Silent Sports Enthusiasts

— In northern Wisconsin, 95 percent of participants in non-motorized events are non-local, and these participants take more than four trips per year to the area on average, generating substantial economic impact. The two most important factors affecting non-residents’ decision to visit were the quality of trails and the quality of trail mapping and signage.

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Trail Study

Motorized Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Development within Trailside Communities

— In southwestern Wisconsin, a 47-mile trail is a destination for non-local motorized trail users, who generate over $13 million dollars in spending each year. When the study was conducted, the railroad owner had petitioned to rebuild a portion of the rail line along the trail. This study was used to demonstrate the trail’s benefits to communities near the trail.

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Trail Study

Trails and their gateway communities: A case study of recreational use compatibility and economic impacts

— A 98-mile rail trail in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota attracts roughly 46,400 visits per year, with trail users spending $118 per trip, on average. Despite high visitation and spending, the trail’s economic impact could be increased with better connections between nearby towns, and through businesses-like bike shops that target trail users.

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Trail Study

Yellowstone-Grand Teton Loop Bicycle Pathway Estimated Economic Impact

— A 262-mile cycle touring loop connecting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, with significant portions on non-motorized pathways, has the potential to generate important economic activity in the small communities through which it would pass. However, due to the challenges of estimating economic impact across a large area and areas close to national parks, the use and economic impact estimates are likely overstated.

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Trail Study

Jackson Hole Pathways and Trails Survey

— In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a random, statistically representative survey gathered information about residents’ opinions of pathways and trails, including levels and types of use, satisfaction, strengths and weaknesses, and the role the trail system plays in quality of life. The survey found that 91 percent of residents had used the trail system in the previous 12 months and the trail system functions well for recreation, but could use improvements to serve transportation needs.

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Trail Study

Economic Impact of the 2012 “6 Hours of Warrior Creek” Mountain Bike Race

— Two factors most strongly predicted racers’ total spending at an endurance mountain bike race in North Carolina: whether they visited other tourist attractions during their trip and how many nights they stayed. Having more people in the racer’s party was also associated with higher total spending, while income had almost no effect on spending.

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Trail Study

What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis.

— Combining data from 10 U.K. studies, researchers demonstrated statistically significant improvements in self-esteem and mood after participants exercised outside in a natural setting. Although all cohorts and types of settings experienced improvements, the greatest gains are visible after short duration, light exercise, and among the mentally ill.

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Trail Study

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Physical Activity Using Bike/Pedestrian Trails

— Trails in Lincoln, Nebraska have the potential to generate large benefits for trail users in terms of avoided medical costs. These benefits may significantly outweigh the per capita cost of trail construction and maintenance. However, due to simplifying assumptions made regarding both benefits and costs, the cost-benefit ratios are unreliable.

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Trail Study

Analysis of Economic Impacts of the Northern Central Rail Trail

— This study found that the North Central Rail Trail is used heavily by residents who lack safe walking and cycling alternatives on local roadways; trail use grew 42 percent per year during the first decade it was open. Both residents and nearby property owners overwhelmingly found the trail a good investment of public funds and would support state-funded trails built elsewhere in the state.

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scenic vista of Bonner County, Idaho
Report

Bonner County, Idaho’s Resilient Economy

— Analysis shows that Bonner County’s economy has grown steadily and been resilient, despite recessions and losing several large employers, and many local businesses are committed to the community and its high quality of life.

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Trail Study

Coastal Georgia Greenway Market Study and Projected Economic Impact

— This study found that the Coastal Georgia Greenway has the potential to generate substantial economic impact along its route. Using findings from studies on a range of existing rail-trail projects, the study projects use and economic impact for the year the trail is constructed as well as five years later, after more people learn about the trail.

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Trail Study

Exploring the Market Potential for Yukon Mountain Bike Tourism

— This study found that the Yukon Territory in Canada has the potential to become a destination for mountain biking based on its undeveloped landscape, varied terrain that would accommodate a range of abilities, and existing network of old First Nations and prospector trails. The difficulty of reaching the Yukon by car or plane is a substantial obstacle that could be overcome for some visitors by marketing the area’s frontier reputation.

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Trail Study

Sea to Sky Mountain Biking Economic Impact Study

— This study found that mountain biking generates significant new spending in the communities of Whistler, Squamish, and the North Shore near Vancouver, British Columbia, all internationally-known mountain biking destinations. These communities all draw non-local visitors and spending, but the economic impact associated with the resort and bike park at Whistler and the multi-day Crankworkx Mountain Bike Festival at the resort far eclipse the impact in the other communities.

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Trail Study

Economic Impact Assessment and Phase 2 Implementation Report

— This study found that the trail systems in the Cariboo region of British Columbia are seeing consistent annual growth in trail use and economic impact, driven largely by more overnight visitors from outside the area. To increase non-local visitors and the economic impact of mountain biking, the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium has developed and promoted a single website for all the trail networks and events that draw racers from outside the area.

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Trail Study

Bicycling and Walking in Colorado: Economic Impact and Household Survey Results

— This study found that bicycle tourism draws summertime tourists to Colorado ski areas who would not have come otherwise, many of whom come from out-of-state and generate valuable economic impact. State-wide, residents are most concerned about the safety of cycling and strongly support spending on improvements such as new paved off-street bike paths and linking paths to create a statewide system.

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Trail Study

Golden Mountain Bike Visitor Study 2011 Results; Rossland Mountain Bike Visitor Study 2011 Results; BC Input-Output Model Report: Mountain Biking in Rossland and Golden

— These studies found that the mountain bike trail systems in Golden and Rossland, British Columbia are destinations drawing visitors who would not otherwise have come to the area, providing a valuable economic boost. Respondents are drawn by the extent and diversity of trails, the ease of access to the trails, and the quality of trails.

read moreof Golden Mountain Bike Visitor Study 2011 Results; Rossland Mountain Bike Visitor Study 2011 Results; BC Input-Output Model Report: Mountain Biking in Rossland and Golden
Trail Study

Community and Economic Benefits of Bicycling in Michigan

— This study found that bicycling in Michigan generates $224 million annually through retail spending, manufacturing, and event and tourism spending. Additionally, the improved health of those who commute to work by bicycle in the state is associated with up to $256 million in avoided annual health care costs.

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Trail Study

Economic Impact of Bicycling and Walking in Vermont

— This study found that cycling and pedestrian activities in Vermont generate substantial state-wide economic impact through the construction and maintenance of trails, businesses serving cyclists and pedestrians, and events. Although not quantified in this study, trails also provide benefits to residents through avoided transportation costs for consumers (e.g., gasoline and vehicle maintenance), avoided transportation costs for the public (e.g., reduced maintenance costs due to fewer vehicle trips), and increases in real estate values near trails.

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Trail Study

The Economic Impacts of Active Transportation in New Jersey

— This study found that the economic impacts of cycling and walking active infrastructure construction, cycling and walking-related businesses, and cycling and walking events in New Jersey are eight times the amount spent on constructing these facilities in the same year.

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Trail Study

Evaluation of the Burke-Gilman Trail’s Effect on Property Values and Crime

— This study found that the Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle is most often seen as an asset by those who moved to the neighborhood after it was built, while those who have lived there since before the trail was built are less likely to see the trail as increasing the sales price or ease of selling their home. Crime associated with the trail is negligible and adjacent property owners’ biggest concern is privacy.

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Trail Study

7stanes Phase 2 Evaluation

— This study found that the 7stanes mountain bike trail system draws over 300,000 visitors annually who would not otherwise have come to the South of Scotland. Trail construction in Phase 1 was followed by Phase 2, which focused on improving the economic impact from the trails by increasing the proportion of visitors staying for multiple nights. This was accomplished by making the trails more appealing to a broader skill range, improving the quality of existing trails, and continuing maintenance on existing trails.

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Trail Study

Bicycle Tourism in Maine: Economic Impacts and Marketing Recommendations

— This study found that bicycling tourism in Maine is associated with modest spending, largely because nearly all bicycle tourists in the state are day users. Developing long-distance rail-trails and multi-day self-guided tour routes could help increase the number of cycling tourists and increase the economic impact from cycling, particularly in rural communities.

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Trail Study

Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition Rider Survey

— This study found that the Galbraith Mountain mountain bike trail system is a valuable asset for local residents, many of whom moved to the area or stay in the area because of the trails, and for visitors, who visit frequently and spend money at local businesses. While the club building the trails is developing a destination-worthy trail system, they are also providing significant benefits for the local cycling community.

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Trail Study

The Relationship between Convenience of Destinations and Walking Levels in Older Women

— This study found that older women in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania walk more overall if they live within walking distance of a trail, and those who use trails use them at least twice per week. Proximity to trails had the strongest relationship with increased walking among 14 neighborhood destinations, including parks, retail establishments, and public services.

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Trail Study

Use of a Community Trail among New and Habitual Exercisers: A Preliminary Assessment

— This study found that in Morgantown, West Virginia, one-quarter of trail users had not been active before the trail was built, and who report large increases in physical activity since they began using the trail. For most of these newly-active residents, the trail was the only place where they exercised and they report the trail’s safety, paved and flat terrain, and convenience as the most important considerations in deciding to use the trail.

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Trail Study

Promoting Physical Activity in Rural Communities: Walking Trail Access, Use, and Effects

— This study found that walking trails in rural, southeastern Missouri communities are associated with the greatest increase in exercise for those most at risk of inactivity, particularly those who were not already regular walkers, have a high school education or less, or who earn less than $15,000 per year. Trails that were at least a half mile long, paved, or located in the smallest towns were associated with the largest increases in exercise.

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Trail Study

Valuing Bicycling’s Economic and Health Impacts in Wisconsin

— This study found that 13 million days of cycling occur in Wisconsin each year, roughly half of which are taken by non-residents who contribute $309 million to the state’s economy. The health benefits associated with increased physical activity for residents could reduce annual healthcare costs in Milwaukee and Madison alone by up to $320 million, and less pollution due to fewer car trips is associated with as much as $89 million in benefits.

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Trail Study

Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling in Iowa

— This study found that cyclists in Iowa, including those who ride for recreation and to commute to work, contribute substantial spending associated with commuting and cycling trips within the state. The physical activity from cycling is associated with as much as $354 million lower annual health care costs due to fewer cases of heart and lung disease, and other diseases associated with less physical activity.

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Trail Study

Analysis of Touring Cyclists: Impacts, Needs and Opportunities for Montana

— This study found that cycle tourists in Montana spend an average of $76 per day and stay eight days in the state during their trip, much longer than the average tourist. Safety is cycle tourists’ top priority, so supporting more cycle touring in the state requires investments in safer routes, including narrower rumble strips, wider shoulders, and bike paths separate from roadways in high-traffic, high-speed areas.

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Trail Study

Making Trails Count for Illinois

— This study found that Illinois’ regional trails receive very high use, mainly cycling and walking, particularly in metropolitan areas. Trails mostly generate benefits in terms of health impacts for local residents, one-third of whom used trails at least 21 times in the previous year and exercised for at least 150 minutes during each trail visit.

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Trail Study

An Economic Impact Study of Bicycling in Arizona

— This study found that Arizona drew 14,000 out-of-state visitors to 250 cycling events in 2012. Because most participants stay for an average of only four days, their visits have a relatively small economic impact in the state-wide economy. However, these events are likely significant to small towns (see 69) and local spending associated with Arizona residents traveling within the state may generate significant additional economic impact (see a similar study in Oregon 68).

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Trail Study

Mountain Biking in the Chequamegon Area of Northern Wisconsin and Implications for Regional Development

— This study found that the Chequamegon trail system in northern Wisconsin attracts numerous mountain bikers, who generate a sizable economic impact. According to trail users, the most important aspects of the trails are its natural, quiet setting and lack of motorized vehicles.

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Trail Study

Project Brief: The Economic Impact of Mountain Bicycle Events in Oregon

— This study found that mountain biking events in Oregon are popular, with a large proportion of overnight visitors who stay for several nights. While these events can generate a large spending infusion for local businesses, particularly in small communities, it is typically short-lived unless the event adds to visitation throughout the season.

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Trail Study

Columbia River Gorge Bicycle Recreation: Economic Impact Forecast for the Communities along the Historic Columbia River Highway

— This study found that road cycling and mountain biking are valuable sources of income for communities close to the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. According to survey results, a proposed trail improvement that would increase the uninterrupted length of the trail and improve rider safety could significantly increase economic impact by increasing the trail’s appeal for overnight users.

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Trail Study

The Economic Significance of Bicycle-Related Travel in Oregon: Detailed State and Travel Region Estimates, 2012

— This study found that bicycle-related tourism in Oregon attracts many visitors, both from within and outside the state, to participate in a range of activities. While the impacts of visitor spending are relatively small relative to the state’s economy, it likely has a large effect in smaller towns, especially when associated with large events.

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Trail Study

The Waterway at New River State Park: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics

— This study found that the water trail along the New River Trail in western Virginia is used frequently by locals and non-locals, and is a relatively large source of revenue for local businesses. The trail and communities near the trail currently provide the amenities that trail users find most important, although there may be unmet demand for outdoor stores and restaurants, which could increase the trail’s economic impact.

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Trail Study

Economic Impacts of MVSTA Trails and Land Resources in the Methow Valley

— This study found that the 200-kilometer Nordic skiing trail network in the Methow Valley of Washington state is the reason why many people visit the area and choose to purchase homes there. Non-resident trail users and residents alike are largely willing to pay some amount of money to support trail maintenance and additional trail construction.

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Trail Study

The Economic Impact of Spending by Snowmobilers on New Hampshire’s Economy

— This study found that snowmobilers in New Hampshire spend $203 million per year in the state, and spend more per day than other travelers. However, winter sports like alpine and Nordic skiing have a greater proportion of spending from out-of-state residents, generating greater economic impact state-wide.

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Trail Study

The Economic Importance of Snowmobiling in Iowa

— This study found that snowmobiling is popular among Iowa households. However, snowmobiling’s economic impact in the state is relatively low because two-thirds of residents’ trips are taken in neighboring states and less than 1 percent of trips in-state are taken by out-of-state residents.

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Trail Study

The Economic Impact of Snowmobiling in Valley County

— This study found that snowmobilers from outside Valley County, Idaho are an important source of revenue during the winter months, spending an average of three days per trip and $106 per day. This revenue stream is highly susceptible to weather, with visits dropping 40 percent in a low snow year.

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Trail Study

Montana Recreational Snowmobiles: Fuel-Use and Spending Patterns 2013

— This study found that snowmobiling is associated with high daily spending in Montana, with the average resident snowmobiler spending $108 per day and the average non-resident spending $148 per day. Despite the 4,000 miles of groomed trails available in the state, snowmobiling remains primarily an activity enjoyed by residents, who accounted for 93 percent of snowmobiling days in 2013.

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Trail Study

Profile of 2008 Minnesota Recreational Trail Users

— This study found that walkers and hikers, while they have fairly low per-trip spending, generate nearly two-thirds of the total economic impact from trails-related recreation in Minnesota because many people participate and they participate often. Motorized recreation – both summer and winter – has the highest individual expenditures per trip.

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Trail Study

An Economic Evaluation of Snowmobiling in Maine

— This study found that snowmobilers in Maine generate large annual expenditures, and increased expenditures observed over a two-year period are due largely to a dramatic increase in non-resident snowmobilers. This growth is attributed to more active state- and local-level promotion as well as a good snow year in Maine relative to other regions.

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Trail Study

The Economic Impact of the South Dakota Snowmobiling Industry

— This study found that snowmobiling is a popular activity in South Dakota, and is associated with substantial spending each year. One area, the Black Hills, is a destination that draws resident and non-resident users, is highly-rated by all users, and generates substantial economic impact. The East River area, although more extensive, is not a destination, has lower user satisfaction, and generates less economic impact.

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Trail Study

Cook County Winter Trail Use Study: Technical Report

— This study found that residents of Cook County, Minnesota, a destination for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, see both activities as having a significant positive impact on the local economy. However, some residents are willing to have less local spending in exchange for fewer conflicts with residents and other user groups.

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Trail Study

Snowmobiling in Minnesota: Economic Impact and Consumer Profile

— This study found that while Minnesota snowmobilers spend a large and growing amount of money each year (nearly $200 million in 2004). However, less than half of that spending occurs at destination sites. Efforts to shift spending on expenses such as equipment and fuel could increase snowmobiling’s economic impact, particularly in rural destinations in northern parts of the state.

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Trail Study

Economic Impact Analysis of Orange County Trails

— This study found that development of a trail and associated infrastructure has contributed to the revitalization of downtown Winter Garden, Florida. In this county-wide trail system, the trails with the most access points to businesses had the greatest measurable economic impact, but the complement of trails throughout Orange County – some urban and others natural and quiet – contribute to an appealing regional trail system.

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Trail Study

Potential Economic Impact of Outdoor Recreation in the Barre Town Forest, Vermont

— This study found that expanding an existing trail system with broad regional draw in Barre, Vermont could significantly increase visitor use and spending. Using a range of projected growth rates, the authors predict that the local economy could see relatively small but meaningful gains in new spending and employment.

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Trail Study

The Economic Benefits of Mountain Biking at One of Its Meccas: An Application of the Travel Cost Method to Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah

— This study found that the Slickrock Trail, a world-famous mountain bike trail in Moab, Utah, draws a large number of avid users annually, who are willing to travel long distances and spend large sums to reach it. Because access fees are a relatively low portion of overall trip cost, visitation rates are unlikely to change much even if they are increased.

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Trail Study

Economic Impact of Recreational Trail Use in Different Regions of Minnesota

— This study found that across all regions in Minnesota, walkers and hikers are the largest group of trail users and account for most of the local spending, with half of the users in northern and central regions coming from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Activities such as ATV and snowmobiling are relatively small statewide in terms of users and spending, but they are very important sources of income in smaller communities in the northwest and northeast parts of the state.

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Trail Study

Case Studies of Water Trail Impacts on Rural Communities

— This study found that across three communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, water trails have created a destination for non-local paddlers interested in multi-day trips. Communities are able to capture this economic opportunity only if businesses are immediately on the water or easily accessed via trail or shuttle, and if there are businesses that cater to paddlers, such as restaurants, lodging and camping, and shuttle and rental services.

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Trail Study

Pathways to Prosperity; Economic Impact of Investment in Bicycle Facilities: A Case Study of North Carolina Northern Outer Banks

— This study found that each year, the economic impact from cyclists on the Outer Banks far exceeds the original investment of public funds used to build bicycle-friendly facilities. The majority of visitors were likely to extend their stay and return to the area because of the availability of bicycle facilities.

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Trail Study

Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Economic Impact Study (2007-2008)

— This study found that many businesses near the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) have experienced increased revenue due to their proximity to the trail, and expect to expand operations to meet demand. The greatest economic impact comes from overnight trail users, who spend seven times as much as day users.

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Trail Study

Ghost Town Trail 2009 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis

— This study found that although user spending on this long-distance Pennsylvania trail is modest, it draws a relatively large number of visitors to the small towns through which it runs. The roughly one in ten users who stay overnight spend substantially more than day visitors.

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Trail Study

Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey: Findings Report

— This study found that while 70 percent of Missoula residents were willing to pay more taxes to acquire open space and build new trails and recreation facilities, still more (77%) were willing to pay more taxes to maintain existing facilities. Eighty-six percent of all residents had used City parks in the previous 12 months, highlighting the importance of within-community trails even in rural areas with public lands nearby.

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Trail Study

Spearhead Trails Implementation Plan, Vol. II Economic Impact Assessment

— This study assesses the potential impact of a region-wide trail destination for multiple user groups on private, primarily corporate-owned land in southwest Virginia. It found that developing a destination-quality trail system requires region-wide coordination, both in trail construction and linking, as well as in providing supporting infrastructure for tourists and marketing to potential visitors outside the region.

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Trail Study

Estimating the Economic Value and Impacts of Recreational Trails: A Case Study of the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail

— This study on the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail in Virginia is unique in that it estimates both economic impacts, measured as local spending by tourists, and economic benefits, measured as value to individual users. This paints a more complete picture of the total value of a trail than considering only one of these economic measures, an approach that may be particularly helpful when prioritizing the use of government funds.

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Trail Study

An Economic and Impact Analysis of the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail

— This survey found that avid mountain bikers are projected to have high daily spending and use the trails frequently on the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail in Alabama. The new trail system is likely to be popular with locals and attract some outside spending that could have significant effects on retail and hospitality businesses that cater to this group.

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Trail Study

Perkiomen Trail 2008 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis

— This study found that the Perkiomen Trail in Pennsylvania is a benefit to locals’ quality of life more than an economic driver, as it is used most frequently by local residents. However, disagreements with adjacent landowners over rights-of-way prior to trail construction linger, and may provide a lesson on the importance of carefully managing adjacent landowner relationships.

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Trail Study

Nebraska Rural Trails: Three Studies of Trail Impact

— This study found that even in very rural places, developed trails provide valuable recreation opportunities for residents in addition to attracting new visitors and spending by non-locals. The results also suggest that trails contributed to increased community pride and a modest increase in activity levels, with few problems from crime or vandalism related to the trails.

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Trail Study

Catskill Mountain Rail Trail Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis

— This study found that the proposed Catskill Mountain Rail Trail in New York is well-situated to provide new recreation opportunities in an area that is already a recreation destination (Catskill Mountain Park), and has a large nearby population base to draw from (New York City). These factors result in a substantial potential economic impact for the trail.

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Trail Study

The Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail & Its Impact on Adjoining Residential Properties

— This study found that landowners adjacent to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail are frequent users of the trail, and most are satisfied with having the trail as a neighbor. Despite their general approval of the trail, most landowners did not think the trail would increase their property value or affect how quickly they could sell their home, suggesting that the main appeal of living near the trail comes from being able to use it.

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Trail Study

Omaha Recreational Trails: Their Effect on Property Values and Public Safety

— This study found that, according to the residents closest to the trails, the Omaha trail system has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on neighborhoods’ quality of life. The positive effects are not constant across all trails and neighborhoods, though, and neighborhoods that saw the greatest benefit were constructed concurrently with the trails.

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Trail Study

Summary Report Indiana Trails Study: A Study of Trails in 6 Indiana Cities

— This study found that trails in six Indiana cities are very popular with residents, especially those who live closest to the trail, and including residents in volunteer patrols and maintenance can improve the trail experience for others and solidify residents’ support for the trails. The benefits of these trails can be expanded if cities are able to increase use by commuters and visitors.

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Trail Study

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics

— This study found that the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail generates significant local economic impact, even though it is primarily used by locals. Using a creative set of questions, the authors identify which trail features are sufficient and which should be higher priorities for funding.

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Trail Study

The Impact of the Little Miami Scenic Trail on Single Family Residential Property Values

— This study found that the Little Miami Scenic Trail in southwest Ohio is associated with higher property values for nearby properties, across the urban, suburban, and rural sections of the trail. On average, homes sell for an additional $7 for every foot closer to the trail, up to about a mile away from the trail. For example, a house a half mile away from the trail would sell, on average, for $18,612 less than a house that is identical in all other aspects but is adjacent to the trail.

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Trail Study

The Relative Impacts of Trails and Greenbelts on Home Price

— This study found that trails and greenbelts in a San Antonio, Texas neighborhood are associated with higher home values, particularly if the trails are incorporated into a greenbelt. This effect is not just for homes immediately adjacent to the trail, but for all homes in the neighborhood.

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Trail Study

Pine Creek Rail Trail 2006 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis

— This study found that the Pine Creek Rail Trail is a popular destination trail for cyclists in Pennsylvania, most of whom stay overnight. Although the estimates of use and economic impact are imperfect, they do show that the trail is responsible for bringing many people to the area who otherwise would not have come.

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Trail Study

Jackson Hole Trail Project Economic Impact Study

— This study found that locals are the main beneficiary of the Teton County, Wyoming trail system, although visitors are increasingly enjoying area trails outside of Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The economic impact of the trails may be significant, but is difficult to estimate without knowing how many visitors come to the area just for the trail system.

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Trail Study

The Economic Value of Hiking: Further Considerations of Opportunity Cost of Time in Recreational Demand Models

— This study found that hikers were willing to travel on average over four hours to visit the Grandfather Mountain Wilderness Preserve and its trail system, and did so five times per year. Although this study is old, it is one of the few with values specifically for a day of hiking, particularly in the southern U.S.

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Trail Study

Estimating the Recreation Demand and Economic Value of Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah: An Application of Count Data Models

— This study found that mountain bikers visiting the Moab, Utah trail system spent an average of $282 per trip and visited 2.5 times per year. Rather than a specific trail, as was studied in the Fix and Loomis (1997) Slickrock Trail study, this study evaluated the benefits of the Moab area’s whole mountain bike trail system.

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Trail Study

The Impact of Greenways on Property Values: Evidence from Austin, Texas; An Assessment of Tax Revenues Generated by Homes Proximate to a Greenway

— The study found that neighborhoods with access to and views of the trail command higher property values, and that these higher property values generate additional tax revenue for municipal and county governments. Trails may not pay for themselves based solely on higher property tax revenue, but the likely additional revenue would offset some of the expense.

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Trail Study

Trails on Tribal Lands in the United States

— This study found that the benefits of trails in Indian Country may be more significant than in other communities that are less culturally or spatially fragmented, less politically and economically marginalized, or less culturally tied to the landscape. Trails can provide particularly valuable benefits to residents of Indian Country, helping to improve residents’ quality of life in several dimensions: connecting tribal members to each other and to culturally significant sites and natural resources; providing safe alternative transportation routes across the reservation; providing opportunities for safe exercise; and providing opportunities for economic development and cultural education.

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Trail Study

A Hedonic Travel Cost Analysis for Valuation of Multiple Components of Site Quality: The Recreation Value of Forest Management

— This study found that wilderness trail users are willing to travel farther (and therefore spend more) to reach trails with campgrounds, old-growth forests, and views. Conversely, they avoid trails with long dirt road approaches and clear-cuts visible from the trail.

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Trail Study

Estimating Social Welfare Using Count Data Models: An Application to Long-Run Recreation Demand Under Conditions of Endogenous Stratification and Truncation

— This study found that surveys that directly extrapolate the number of times an individual person visits a trail to the general population will significantly overstate the future trail use. Care must be taken to account for the differences between those interviewed at the trailhead and the rest of the population.

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Trail Study

Wildfire Effects on Hiking and Biking Demand in New Mexico: A Travel Cost Study

— This study found that crown wildfires that cross trails are likely to have a dramatic effect on use and individual benefit for hikers and mountain bikers that persists for decades after the fire occurs. Prescribed fires are also shown to decrease benefits and use for both groups, but these declines occur gradually over decades rather than an immediate drop in the year of a wildfire.

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Trail Study

Multiuse Trails: Benefits and Concerns of Residents and Property Owners

— This study found that the qualitative benefits to property owners–including access to recreation and the natural world and connection to neighbors–far outweigh the negative effects of living adjacent to a multiuse trail in this study. The negative effects, including trespassing, less privacy, and dog waste, were not widespread across users and may be mitigated with trail design.

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Trail Study

Teton-West Yellowstone Region Backcountry Winter Recreation Economic Impact Analysis

— This study found that participants in backcountry, non-motorized winter recreation generate a substantial economic, employment, and fiscal impact in the Teton-West Yellowstone region. This is the only study we are aware of that assesses the impact of this type of recreation.

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Trail Study

A Contingent Trip Model for Estimating Rail-Trail Demand

— This study estimates future use on a proposed rail-trail in Georgia, while most trail studies estimate use on an existing trail. It found that the best predictors of future trail use are how close the person lives to the trail, whether they had ridden bicycles in the previous year, and whether they had used a rail trail previously; age and income were not related to predicted use.

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Trail Study

Determining Economic Benefits of Park Trails: Management Implications

— This study found that most users of Table Rock State Park in South Carolina are willing to pay a fee to use the hiking trails in addition to the existing park entrance fee. The authors found that users were willing to pay a higher fee when they believed the trails were of higher quality.

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Trail Study

Estimating the Benefits and Costs to Mountain Bikers of Changes in Trail Characteristics, Access Fees, and Site Closures: Choice Experiments and Benefits Transfer

— This study found that all mountain bikers, from casual to the most avid, are most likely to ride on trails without hikers or equestrians, and are willing to pay a fee to ride on these trails. While mountain bikers are more likely to use singletrack trails, only the most avid are willing to pay a fee to extend the proportion of a ride that is singletrack.

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Trail Study

Economic Impact and Demographics of Recreational Horse Trail Users in Minnesota

— This study found that the average respondent rides on Minnnesota’s state-maintained horse trail system 33 days per year. Three-quarters of all trips are taken within 30 minutes of home, suggesting that the primary benefits from horse trails in Minnesota are in the enjoyment people derive from using trails close to home rather than in attracting non-local visitors.

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Trail Study

Rider Preferences and Economic Values for Equestrian Trails

— This study found that equestrian trail users strongly prefer to visit trails specific to horses and are willing to pay a user fee to access them, but this preference is less pronounced for more experienced riders. Riders are also willing to pay more to ride on longer trails and on trails with scenic views.

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Trail Study

Recreational Demand for Equestrian Trail-Riding

— This study found that the distance between a user’s home and the trailhead is the most important factor in determining how frequently a trail is used, though proximity alone is not enough if the trail lacks other equestrian-friendly characteristics. To provide the greatest benefit to equestrian users, land managers can look for opportunities to enhance existing trails near population centers with an avid equestrian population.

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Trail Study

The Value of Dedicated Cyclist and Pedestrian Infrastructure on Rural Roads

— This study found that rural communities have a high demand for dedicated cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, separate from main roadways, and users are willing to pay small fees to use these trails. These trails are most likely to be used by those living close to small towns and villages, who use the trails for recreation and transportation.

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Trail Study

Outdoor Recreation Net Benefits of Rail-Trails

— This study found that trail users are willing to incur greater expenses and travel further to use rural trails, and spend more time on those trails while they are there, indicating these trails are enjoyed by both locals and non-locals. Urban trails, on the other hand, are mainly a resource for local residents, and are used much more frequently and for shorter periods of times.

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Trail Study

Two Approaches to Valuing Some Bicycle Facilities’ Presumed Benefits

— This study found that those commuting by bicycle are willing to go out of their way to use a safer route, with the largest detour for on-street, designated bicycle lanes, followed by routes without parking and routes with an off-street bicycle lane. The effect of these bicycle facilities on property values is mixed, depending on the type of facility and whether it is in an urban or suburban neighborhood.

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Trail Study

Property Values, Recreation Values, and Urban Greenways

— This study found that in Indianapolis property values are higher when homes are located near conservation areas without trails or near high-profile, destination trails, but are not any different when they are located near less-popular trails. Individual trail users place a positive value on being able to use trails, which is sufficiently high to justify the expense of trail construction and maintenance.

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Trail Study

Community Economic Contributions from Recreational Trails Usage on Public Lands: Implications from a Comprehensive Wyoming Study

— This study found that trail-related recreation on Wyoming’s 10,000 miles of trails, both motorized and non-motorized, generates substantial spending for local businesses and tax revenue for state and local governments. While off-road vehicle (ORV) and snowmobile users generate far more spending in this analysis, the incomplete assessment of non-motorized users makes it difficult to make comparisons of impact between motorized and non-motorized users.

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Trail Study

2002 User Survey for the Pennsylvania Allegheny Trail Alliance

— This study found that destination trailheads for non-local users along this long-distance trail system near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are associated with the greatest spending per person. This study demonstrates that the economic impact of a trail varies along its length, depending on the types of users the trail attracts and how well the local community can capture their business.

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Trail Study

Assessing the Cost Effectiveness of a Community Rail-Trail in Achieving Physical Activity Gains

— This study found that a community rail-trail in West Virginia encourages new physical activity among inactive residents and greater physical activity for those who were already active, and that for many community members trail use is their only form of exercise. Trail cost per newly active resident is on the lower end of health interventions aimed at encouraging sedentary individuals to become active, and is likely to reach more people that other common interventions.

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Trail Study

Cost Effectiveness of a Bicycle/Pedestrian Trail Development in Health Promotion

— This study found that three-quarters of trail users in Lincoln, Nebraska report being more physically active since they began using trails, most of whom are active for general health. The cost per user who is more active since they began using the trails is $98, less than other programs aimed at increasing physical activity.

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Trail Study

Quequechan River Rail Trail Health Impact Assessment

— This study found that extending a rail-trail from the outskirts of Fall River, Massachusetts into the city center is likely to generate a range of benefits for the community, including increased physical activity, fewer pedestrian and cyclist crashes with motor vehicles, increased business activity and improved working environment, and less air pollution. This study is an example of a small city’s Health Impact Assessment, a single document that can be used by trail planners and advocates to justify the investment of public funds.

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Trail Study

Correlates of Recreational and Transportation Physical Activity Among Adults in a New England Community

— This study found that residents who live closer to rail-trails in Arlington, Massachusetts got an hour more exercise for transportation purposes each week. Proximity to the trails had no effect on the amount of exercise for recreation, suggesting the neighborhood trails in this community are mainly used for transportation purposes.

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Trail Study

An Environmental Intervention to Promote Walking and Cycling—The Impact of a Newly Constructed Rail Trail in Western Sydney

— This study found that a marketing campaign to promote the opening of a new rail trail in Sydney, Australia did little to increase awareness of the trail or increase trail use in the general population. However, it was effective in raising awareness of those who lived closest to the trail.

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Trail Study

Estimating the Health Economic Benefits of Cycling

— This study found that constructing a cycling-specific route separate from vehicle traffic has the potential to make cycling much safer for commuters in Dublin, Ireland, reducing mortality risk by 18 percent. In monetary terms, the benefits of reduced risk outweigh construction costs by at least two-fold.

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Trail Study

Property Value/Desirability Effects of Bike Paths Adjacent to Residential Areas

— This study found that homes within 50 meters of bike paths in New Castle County, Delaware sold, on average, for 4 percent more than similar homes without bike paths. These results are consistent with other studies that have demonstrated a higher value for homes adjacent to trails.

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Trail Study

Evaluating Change in Physical Activity with the Building of a Multi-Use Trail

— This study found that people who used a new rail trail in Durham, North Carolina reported exercising more during the month after it opened, although it did not appear that their minutes spent exercising per week was actually any higher than before the trail opened. Potential effects of new trails on physical activity may take longer to manifest themselves in residents’ habits, and the effects likely depend on how many trails are already nearby.

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Trail Study

A Community-Based Approach to Promoting Walking in Rural Areas

— This study found that in southeastern Missouri, public health interventions to increase residents’ trail use, such as newsletters and fun walks, had no statistically-observable effect on residents’ walking habits or physical activity. A third of those who use the trail report increased overall physical activity levels since they began using the trail, suggesting while that trails can increase community physical activity, a primary challenge is getting residents to begin using them.

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Report

Migration & Population Trends in the West Vary by County Type

— County migration and population trends in the West constantly change. We summarize counties into four types--high-wage services, farm-dependent, oil and natural gas boom, and retirement destinations--to show the relationship between population and economic structure.

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Report

Non-Labor Income: Large and Growing in Importance Across the West

— Non-labor income is one of the largest and fastest growing sources of income in the West; constituting 34 percent of total personal income in 2011 and 60 percent of net growth in real personal income during the last decade.

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DataViz

Across the West, Non-Labor Income Is Large and Growing

— Among western counties, non-labor income makes up 41 percent of total personal income and is growing, representing 60 percent of net personal income growth in the last decade. Comprised of three main types—investments, age related, and hardship payments— non-labor income is affected by the stock market, retiring Baby Boomers, and changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

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DataViz

Non-Labor Income for Western Counties, Sortable Data Table

— Across the West, non-labor income is a large and growing source of personal income. This sortable county-level interactive allows users to review the importance of three largest sources of non-labor income: investments, age related, and hardship payments.

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