This paper summarizes the goals sought and the beginning work contemplated. A companion paper describes the Commission’s proposed composition, and outlines its powers.
The Commission’s purpose would be to make Alabama a nationally recognized destination for hiking, biking, running, horseback riding, motorized off-highway vehicles, and water sports by citizens and visitors alike. It would employ a ground-up, statewide coordinated approach fostering vigorous participation by local, regional, state and federal agencies, stakeholders, higher education centers, and non-profit organizations. The ultimate framework would link trails with people; people with their communities; and explorers of all ages with Alabama’s wild places. Wherever possible the Commission would look to local needs, goals and leadership to accomplish its mission. Expanded list of goals are stated in the Bill.
In all the following, convene and work with the Alabama Trails Commission Advisory Board to be created under the legislation.
First likely job: inventory and mapping. Identify and evaluate existing green and blue trails, whether civic- or citizen-generated and maintained. Rate their difficulty, maintenance, and adjacent support including medical aid.
Second: exploring local and regional goals. Determine leadership and citizen interest in improving and extending existing trails and establishing new ones. Learn where they believe trails – green or blue – should interconnect, and how. Circulate such information – what’s in place, what’s under way and what’s wanted – to all relevant stakeholders, bridging information gaps now existing at ground level and among operating agencies.
Third: state level planning. Working with ADECA, ALDOT, ADCNR, and Tourism, propose elements of an interconnected trail system to help implement the current Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (“SCORP” 2008-2012) and assist in preparing SCORP 2012-2017. Targeted state assets: recreation, transportation, ecology, tourism, agriculture, economic development, energy, commerce, arts and culture, research, health and education.
Fourth: propose progress milestones and maintenance policies. Assist local, regional, state and Federal agencies and private landowners in development planning and in assuring long term trail viability. Encourage public-private partnerships to develop and manage trails.
Fifth: set up a 501(c)(3) affiliate and coordinate with it. Empower the latter aggressively to serve beyond the normal purview of government, such as in seeking voluntary donations, coordinating with state and national institutions of like purpose, and supporting education in civic recreation.
Sixth: assure effective use of Federal funding. Work closely with local, state, and federal agencies to encourage use of Federal funds to develop and improve the Trails system, and assure that the Commission’s non-profit affiliate does the same.