“More than three out of four Americans participate in outdoor recreation each year.  Americans spend money, create jobs, and support local communities when they get outdoors.  Simple healthy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, or wildlife viewing generate enormous economic power and fuel a far-reaching ripple effect that touches many of the nation’s economic sectors.”

~The Active Outdoor Recreation Economy: A $730 Billion Annual Contribution to the U.S. Economy (Fall 2006)  

A water trail is a network of recreational and educational opportunities. Hiking trails, bikeways, greenways, museums, historic sites, parks and preserves are connected by water trails creating frontiers for exploration, discovery and enrichment.  The connections build a sense of place and bind citizens in a love for their community.  They also  bring people into communities, which in turn has a positive economic impact on places in Pennsylvania.  Following are links to reports from other states that quantified the economic impact of water trails in local communities.

Case Study of Water Trail Impacts on Rural Communities

The focus of this report is on the economic impact of water trails on rural communities.  The author used three case studies to evaluate the impact (1. Lake County, Minnesota 2. Vernon County, Wisconsin 3. Martin County, North Carolina).  She was able to make some general and informative conclusions about developing water trails in rural areas.

Maine Island Trail Association: Harvard Study: Maine Island Trail Generates 1.75M in Spending Each Year

This report is focused on the Maine Island Trail Association, which is the non-profit organization that manages the Maine Island Trail (www.mita.org), and the value of the organization.  The report attempted to answer three central questions: “First, what is the value of the Maine Island Trail as a recreational asset? Second, how does MITA actualize this value through its activities? Finally, how can MITA improve its operations to increase its value delivery?”  As a way of proving the value of the MITA, this report does quantify the overall impact of the Maine Island Trail.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail : Economic Impacts and Implications for Sustainable Community Development

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) is a 740-mile route traversing New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine.  The objectives of this research were to:

• Assess group and trip characteristics of paddlers recreating on Northern Forest Canoe Trail waterways;

• Quantify the current economic impact of paddlers in regional communities;

• Identify potential social and environmental impacts of increased waterway

recreation;

• Report on opportunities and challenges for businesses and communities along

the NFCT.

The researchers used the data gathered to attempt to answer the question, “Can the Northern Forest Canoe Trail stimulate sustainable community development?”