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RECREATION PLANNING

Virginia Trails

Virginia is blessed with a wealth of scenic landscapes unmatched anywhere else on the East Coast. Trails woven throughout these landscapes may well be the best way to experience and explore our commonwealth.

Trails in Virginia

Trails allow access in many forms - by foot, bicycle, horseback or even canoe, kayak or boat. Each allows the user to enjoy his surroundings at his or her own pace. It has been said that trails are the front porch of the 21st century.

Over the past decade, the number and sophistication of community-driven trail projects has grown as has local awareness of the value of trails. Planners and enthusiasts will tout many assets and attributes of trails - their role in attracting tourists and the revenue they bring; their appeal in connecting historical, scenic and cultural resources; their utility as alternate transportation; their health value - promoting physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

They appeal to a wide variety of demographic groups, become community showplaces, and are important in protecting our environments and landscapes. But most important - and interestingly enough, among of their most overlooked attributes - are the joy, the fun and the recreational value they bring to local residents.

Here are the five goals that will drive future actions and provide overall guidance for development of Virginia's Trail Network.

Goal 1: Enhance access to the outdoors through the development of a trails network that promotes healthy recreation and connects citizens, including children and families, to Virginia's diverse open space and natural landscapes.

Goal 2: Improve linkages between communities and key tourist destinations in both rural and urban areas to promote regional outdoor recreation and heritage tourism initiatives, support local economies, and provide economic stimulus for small-business start-ups and entrepreneurial expansion.

Goal 3: Create the foundation of a statewide system of interconnected open-space corridors through which trails traverse in order to support long-term protection of Virginia's "green infrastructure" and the ecological services it provides.

Goal 4: Integrate trails as a critical component in Virginia's transportation infrastructure in order to provide efficient and convenient non-motorized connections to neighborhoods, schools, community facilities and employment centers.

Goal 5: Educate citizens about the trail network's social, ecological, transportation and wellness benefits, and foster educational pursuits through environmental research, multicultural programs and "outdoor classrooms."