Please note “Discussions highlighted multi-use trails including information about hiking, mountain biking, equestrians, off-road vehicles and water trails.” OHVs are finally getting mentioned as a legitimate user of public lands!
Linthicum Heights, Md. (October 20, 2010) — On behalf of Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John R. Griffin yesterday announced the creation of a new Trails Development Office during the first Maryland Trails Summit. More than 200 enthusiastic stakeholders and State and regional trail leaders attended the event, with a theme Sharing the Vision — Making the Connections.
“This summit is another significant step in our effort to make Maryland’s trails system second to none in the nation,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The creation of a Trails Development Office demonstrates our commitment to expanding, improving and connecting our system of trails, bringing countless benefits to our citizens, visitors and young people.”
The new Trails Development Office will be headed by DNR’s Land Acquisition and Planning office. John Wilson, Land Trails Coordinator, will lead the initiative and a planner will be added to the office in the near future. Wilson introduced the Geographic Information (GIS) and trails website at the summit. The GIS mapping system allows citizens to see where trails are in the state, as well as gives planners data on where to make future connections. DNR’s trail website was developed as a fluid clearinghouse for trail enthusiasts to share information, maps and suggestions in a comprehensive, easy-to-use site.
“Today this event is the culmination of ideas and input from four regional roundtables that DNR hosted this summer,” said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin. “We look forward to continuing these conversations in the development of a shared vision for a Statewide Trails network. Our other priorities include developing a plan for Off Road Vehicle trails and creating a citizens’ trails advocacy group. ”
“We will continue to build on our partnership with Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) who has helped fund trail initiatives thru recreational trails grants and staff assistance, resulting in terrific outcomes like the recently released commuter trails map. This will be followed by a trail initiative connecting the commuter trails to recreation trails around the state,” said Griffin.
Yesterday’s event offered attendees an opportunity to hear about regional projects in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Discussions highlighted multi-use trails including information about hiking, mountain biking, equestrians, off-road vehicles and water trails. The afternoon brought time to network with other trail users and planners from Maryland and neighboring states.
“It is great Maryland is taking the lead in bringing people together across the State and looking outside the State’s boundaries to make these trail connections,” said Jennifer Wampler, trail coordinator with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The morning keynote speaker was Tom Horton, local outdoors author and avid hiker, bicyclist and kayaker. Horton spoke on the importance of connecting and organizing trails on land and water, so people can have access to trailheads, camping sites and enjoy Maryland’s many outdoor opportunities.
Charlie Stek, chairman of the Chesapeake Conservancy, was the evening keynote speaker at the summit.
“Governor O’Malley’s vision of a trails and greenways system that is second to none is a huge opportunity to bolster our economy through recreation and tourism; to better connect our citizens to our natural and cultural heritage; and to foster better health through outdoor activities and experiences, on the land and on the water,” said Stek.
The summit was supported in part by the National Park Service Challenge Cost-Share Program and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Office. The summit was planned by: the National Park Service, DNR, MDOT and the Department of Housing and Community Development (Maryland Tourism).