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NORTHAMPTON — Today, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced the opening of registration for the fifth annual Massachusetts Trails Conference, which will take place from November 2, 2017, to November 4, 2017, in the City of Leominster. This year’s conference, whose theme is “Building Trails – a Path to Vibrant Communities,” is conducted in partnership between the DCR and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB), and aims to highlight the role of trails in community development across the Commonwealth. The three-day event will combine hands-on workshops, field trips, and over 24 sessions from planners, designers, trail stewards, and professional trail builders.
“The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is thrilled to support this year’s Trails Conference by showcasing the thousands of miles of a variety of trails that connect regions across more than 450,000 acres of protected land within the state parks system,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “Trails can bring communities together, encourage healthy outdoor recreation, and reduce motor vehicle transportation, and the Baker-Polito Administration encourages all interested parties to join the DCR and the MARTAB to take part in this year’s conference.”
“Since 2011, the partnership of MARTAB and DCR have endeavored to establish the Massachusetts Trails Conference as a premier Trails oriented conference in Massachusetts,” said Larry Tucker of MARTAB. “This conference is an effort to share information, create awareness and offer education for the trails community within the Commonwealth. The trails community consists of trail professionals, contractors, trail advocates, user group organizations and volunteers. This Conference is an excellent opportunity for networking, sharing challenges, comparing accomplishments and celebrating the growth of the various trails systems in Massachusetts.”
The keynote address will be delivered on Saturday, November 4, 2017, by David C. Toland of Thrive Allen County, a nonprofit coalition that works to improve quality of life and economic conditions in Allen County, Kansas. Toland oversees a coalition known regionally, statewide, and nationally for its innovative approaches to improving healthcare access, healthy lifestyles, and economic development in a small, rural Kansas county. Toland was instrumental in the design and construction of 20 miles of new trails, a key revitalization strategy for the county.
In June 2017, the Baker-Polito Administration announced, as part of its statewide trails initiative, a 60% budget increase to the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) from $1.1 million to $1.8 million. The Massachusetts Recreational Trails Program generally provides grants ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 for a variety of trail protection, construction, and stewardship projects throughout Massachusetts. The RTP is part of the national Recreational Trails Program, which is funded through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Funds are disbursed to each state to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. In Massachusetts, the RTP is administered by the DCR, and grants are reviewed and awarded in partnership with the MARTAB. The Mass Trails conference is funded in part by the RTP.
Additionally, the DCR and MARTAB is asking members of the public to share their favorite trails on social media utilizing the hashtag #MassTrails2017. To learn more about opportunities to exhibit or sponsor the Massachusetts Trails Conference, please visit www.MassTrailsConference.com. Interested individuals can also contact Amanda Lewis, of DCR’s Recreational Trails Grant Program at (413) 586-8706, extension 19 or Amanda.Lewis@state.ma.us.