The 2013 Forks of the Ohio Regional Trails Symposium, held on March 8 in Cranberry, PA, brought together more than 130 stakeholders from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland – representing a diverse cross section of engineering companies, national park services, transportation agencies, cycling organizations, conservation agencies and more.
The event builds on the Western PA Trail Symposia held in 2006 and 2010, the Power of 32 Regional Trails Meeting in 2011 and on recent accomplishments to develop and advocate the completion of a regional trail system.
According to Davitt Woodwell, Executive Vice President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the purpose for the day was to put together strategies for a multi-state regional trail network that includes incorporating the award-winning trail-based economic development model developed by The Progress Fund.
A highlight of the event was a thought-provoking keynote address by Earl F. Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in the 13 Appalachian states. Gohl brought into perspective the interconnectedness of a broad regional vision for trails and the multiple associated issues ranging from transportation to economic development.
The symposium also included informative educational sessions, interactive working sessions and networking opportunities. Topics included: completion of mega greenways, connecting to communities, developing healthy communities, planning tools and more.
Woodwell says the next step is the development of a strategy report based on the symposium.