For more than 20 years, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has
been one of the strongest members of Pennsylvania's trail development, advocacy
and promotion community. Thanks in part to our efforts, Pennsylvania is now a
state with plenty of rail-trail activity, a strong supporter base and a
wonderful network of outdoor recreation assets.
Recognition of our long involvement in the state came this
week with the appointment of Pat Tomes, program manager for RTC's Northeast Regional Office, to the newly formed Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources formed
the committee to drive implementation of Pennsylvania's recently completed
Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan, which encourages the development of a
thorough trail network to facilitate outdoor recreation, provide alternative
transportation routes and encourage healthy lifestyles.
As one of its authors, Tomes is familiar with the plan and
the huge role that rail-trails will play in moving toward its goals. She says
that in Pennsylvania, where so many rail-trails are already established, the
challenges are different from states where the majority of effort goes into
getting pathways built in the first place.
"Pennsylvania is a mature state, in terms of rail-trail
development," Tomes says. "But there is a lot of work to do to further
encourage usage--like how to connect the smaller pieces so people can utilize
loops and networks, and providing better signage."
Tomes says she will urge the committee to give plenty of
attention to the issue of wayfinding and tourism signage.
"The focus of funding is often on building and construction,
and there are seldom many resources to promote the trails once they are built,"
she says. "I would like to see the various agencies--DOT, tourism, economic
development--work together to make these trails easier to find, and make it
easy for trail users to get to the communities and businesses along the way."
While RTC does a lot to promote Pennsylvania's trails, Tomes
says, there is much more that could be done, and without spending a lot of money.
As she knows from her experience in trail towns in the Northeast, a simple and
inexpensive wayfinding sign pointing to a local main street or options for food
and lodging has a marked impact on the value of that trail to the region's
economy. It is this kind of on-the-ground experience that Tomes will bring to
the new Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee.
For more information about the committee, and the Statewide
Outdoor Recreation Plan, visit www.paoutdoorrecplan.com.
Photos by RTC.
Just returned from a wonderful week on the GAP trail (and combined it with the C&O Canal Trail). Everyone in Confluence, Ohiopyle, and Connelsville was extremely friendly and helpful.
---BP from NYC
Hello Pat Tomes ,
I am from West Virgiaia could we be kin ?
Wife and I have been riding trails for three years on recumbent trikes. Good to see the Tomes name in important places.
Congrads Pat. I have known you for a number of years and enjoyed the yearly Pa sojourn that you help run. I know you will do a great job!
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
Washington, DC 20037