Trail Funding Shrinks While Demand Grows
Federal funding for trails has been shrinking in recent years during a time when demand for this infrastructure is growing. The federal funding reductions compromise Wyoming’s expanding tourism economy while our nationwide economic recovery is fragile and needs support.
As Wyoming Pathways Executive Director Tim Young explains, trail investments now will yield healthy returns into the future. Research indicates that trails integrated into a community’s transportation and recreation infrastructure delivers three significant benefits: the economy, people’s physical and mental health, and community life.
Annual spending nationally on outdoor recreation is estimated to total $646 billion, and includes outdoor products as well as trip and travel spending. Wyoming offers unique and superior outdoor recreation opportunities. As a healthy generation of adventurous and effluent baby boomers retire, the economic potential for the state of Wyoming is huge.
Tim and others have urged the state to maintain funding for nonmotorized infrastructure, and officials have agreed. But vigilance is critical to ensure that funding continues and expands as the need and demand grows.
Below is Tim’s testimony before the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee of the Wyoming Legislature in 2011. His testimony is a trove of valuable information on this subject for any individual, club or community wishing to create or expand trails and pathways.