Share

Connecting downtowns and trails: new infobrief provides key findings from multi-state inquiry

Posted: July 24, 2019

With funding from the Northeast Center, a team of Extension staff and faculty from five states explored how communities can leverage their existing trail systems to promote vibrant downtown economies. They've recently released an infobrief that summarizes what they learned.
Downtowns and Trails Program Assessment Team
  • Shannon Rogers, University of New Hampshire (PI)
  • Molly Donovan, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Charlie French, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Casey Hancock, University of New Hampshire (Co-PI)
  • Laura Brown, University of Connecticut (Co-PI)
  • Lisa Chase, University of Vermont (Co-PI)
  • Rebecca Sero, Washington State University (Co-PI)
  • Collaborator: Jayoung Koo, Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, (CEDIK) University of Kentucky

The team was funded with a small grant from the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. Learn more about our funding program here.

The infobrief, titled Connecting Downtowns and Trails, is available here and was developed to share the team's findings with community and economic development professionals.

The team, led by University of New Hampshire's Nature-Based Economic Development State Specialist Shannon Rodgers, formed a multistate, collaborative knowledge sharing network to explore the connections between downtowns and trails. In their Introduction, they describe their process:

"Over the course of a year, Extension colleagues from across the country met and shared ongoing work on economic development approaches in downtowns and with a connection to natural assets. In May 2018, the team traveled on a train-the-trainer trip to assess Kentucky’s Trail Town program. During the trip, the group visited and assessed four different Trail Towns. Through our meetings with community leaders, volunteers, tourism professionals and other Extension staff, we learned about the social, natural, leadership, and built conditions that were required for a trail town to be established."

In June, the team was honored for their work by the National Association for Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) with a Northeast Regional Cross-Program Team Award.

Seven members of the Downtowns and Trails team pose for a group photo.

Several members of the Downtowns and Trails team, pictured during their visit to a Kentucky Trail Town. (Image credit: Jayoung Koo)