July 23, 2020

Lansing, MI –To help trail managers promote proper trail etiquette and inclusiveness while dealing with greatly increased trail use and new safety standards due to COVID-19, the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance is hosting two virtual trails’ conferences in August.

“As families are looking for someplace to recreate responsibly, we are hearing that trail use has increased, on average by 200% nationwide,” explained Andrea LaFontaine, executive director of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance (MTGA). “MTGA wants to make sure all hikers, bikers, runners and equestrians feel safe and welcome on our trails and know how to safely pass one another on shared-use trails. To ensure the future of our resources, we also need to help trail managers deal with this unprecedented use of our trail systems.”

To help trail managers form new strategies, MTGA is co-hosting the Mid-American Trails & Greenways (MATAG) Conference along with the West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition and Michigan Recreation and Park Association on August 18, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. – noon. Two sessions will be offered: “In Times of Crisis, Keeping Trail Policy Relevant with Elected Officials”, and “Managing Trails through Times of Crisis”.

The “In Times of Crisis” session includes discussion of a revealed lack of equity and feeling of safety on trails within our citizens of color. The moderated panel of high-level elected officials led by Senator Peter MacGregor, Senate Majority Floor Leader, R-Rockford, will discuss state trail caucuses, crisis response, and economic recovery. The “Managing Trails” session will explore the evolving understanding of the importance of trails in our communities, what techniques worked and didn’t work during the pandemic response and how to create welcoming spaces for all members of our communities.

“Michigan is home to thousands of miles of trails and is better positioned, perhaps more than any other state, to accommodate the increasing number of people who are seeking socially-distanced outdoor adventures that are both good for them and the environment,” said Senator MacGregor. “As a legislator and as someone who loves spending time in Michigan’s great outdoors, I appreciate MTGA for hosting these timely and relevant conferences, which will help ensure the safety and well-being of all who use and maintain our state’s vast trail network.”

A second virtual Great Lake-to-Lake Trail Etiquette Summit will take place on August 25 from 10:00 a.m. – noon and focus on educating trail users on proper trail etiquette. MTGA is conducting a statewide trail user study on etiquette and will discuss the results with trail managers and enthusiasts at the summit. The study surveys all nonmotorized trail user groups and will be used to develop a common approach to trail etiquette.

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