To achieve its mission, American Trails (AT) focuses on four areas:
• Research and Data: Research and data on trails are critical to show the impact and benefits of trails. The trails community is witnessing unprecedented growth and a shift in leadership away from Federal agencies, toward foundation and private investment driving trail development. These growing efforts would benefit from sound analyses and aggregation of trails related data and information to define how trails impact America. This highlights the need to develop the tools that allow our coalition to bring a dynamic trail community together, professionalize and standardize the trails industry, document our value and impact, and articulate this value and impact to public leaders, the outdoor industry, and other industries that unwittingly benefit from trails. Compilation of existing data to support analyses and additional research and identification of related needs will be a focus of AT.
• Funding and Resources: AT identifies and leverages funding and other resources, to benefit the trails community as a whole. By using a collective voice, AT hopes to access resources that aren’t otherwise accessible to individual organizations. Projects include the development of a national trails fund, advocacy for increased federal funding, and inclusion of trails in existing funding streams.
• Communication and Messaging: We are strongest when we speak as one unified community. Presenting a unified trails voice will create a recognizable public presence that garners strength and influence. Internal guidance and collaboration through coordination of messaging, creation of best practices, and marketing will effectively develop a strong public presence. Our primary project in this area is the creation of a National Trails Report, which gathers a spectrum of data from all aspects of the trails community in order to establish a baseline upon which we can all base our arguements for trails funding, infrastructure investment, and research.
• Advocacy and Policy: Bringing together the collective force of the trails community in coordinated advocacy efforts will benefit Americans through increased influence via legislation and policy. AT and our parterns will engage jointly in advocacy efforts before Congress and federal agencies to influence trail legislation, policy, and funding.
Speak with a Unified Voice for the Trails Community - AT will allow robust engagement of members on a variety of topics and issues related to trails. Agreement on all issues may not be possible, but we will provide a forum for such discussions, and allow an amplified voice on those issues that resonate within the trails community.
Collaboration - Use large group process to identify shared goals and to amplify common messaging
Communication - Amplify common messaging developed through the collaborative process and articulate the value of trails
Education - Establish best practices, scholarships, certifications, training programs
Trails are Recognized as Critical Infrastructure - There is a perception that trails just exist. If we do not help our decision makers, investors, and citizens understand that trails are critical infrastructure requiring consistent, ongoing funding and maintenance, they will simply disappear or degrade over time. We must make it apparent to citizens, leadership, and investors that trails improve the quality of life for all Americans.
Harness End-user Passion in Support of the Trail Industry - Trail users support a multi-billion dollar trail industry. Develop new ideas and strategies that can help coalition partners establish the relevancy of trails nationally, and elevate trails as an important public infrastructure priority.
Connect Trails to Health - Access to trails make people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities live healthier, more active lives. Research shows that people living near parks and trails are more likely to know their neighbors, experience a sense of belonging, feel safer, and have better health outcomes compared to those without close-to-home access to trails.
Connect Trails to Community Economic Development - Trails create attractive, safe communities, increase property values and tax revenues, enhance marketability, and increase home sales or leases more than conventional development.