Act Locally: Create A Blue Trail

northern forest canoe trail blue photo

Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Image credit: Flickr, American Rivers, Blue Trails Set, photo by Jamie Mierau

At American Rivers, we not only want to protect and restore our nation’s rivers, we want to bring Americans back to their rivers. As more people learn to appreciate how great rivers are through paddling, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, and camping, more people will want to protect them.

But some communities need help making these types of recreational activities accessible. A great way to do this is by establishing a blue trail, the water equivalent of a hiking trail. I recently posted about a new blue trail, on the Congaree River in South Carolina that we helped make possible by working with local partners. And now, thanks to a new guide, anyone can take on these types of projects.
The Blue Trails Guide will give you access to all the resources needed to establish a thriving blue trail in your community. To have a successful blue trail you need to have a healthy river, which is why the guide focuses on river conservation. The guide has step-by-step instructions and practical advice on planning, building, and managing for conservation as well as case studies from experienced practitioners across the country.

In addition to the obvious recreational benefits, blue trails help communities in a variety of ways. They can stimulate the local economy by increasing property values, reducing infrastructure costs, and supporting tourism and recreation based businesses. A healthy river also provides cost effective flood control and clean drinking water.

When people get out and enjoy their rivers, they start to care more about them. That’s why blue trails can be the driving force behind stopping pollution, removing dams that no longer make sense, protecting against poorly planned development along rivers, and building support for protections such as Wild and Scenic River designations.

I hope you’ll consider working with your local planners, conservation organizations, and government leaders to establish a blue trail where you live!

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