Accessible Nature via New Trails
Level of Effort: 5 minutes, at home in your PJs
Deadline: Friday 12/11
We believe that Arlington's Natural Areas are a treasure that must be preserved. But if you lock a treasure away in a safe, it is forgotten, and a forgotten treasure is rarely cared for or protected. We believe sustainably-designed trails that provide access to our natural areas leads to appreciation and a natural consituency of users for these gems that will ensure they are properly protected and cared for in the future.
Today's environmentalists are last decade's trail users and building great new trails today will help create the next generation of envrionmentalists to steward these areas in the future.
As Arlington prepares its Forestry and Natural Resources Plan, it is vitally important that we advocate for new, sustainable access to these areas. Otherwise well-meaning neighbors, in an attempt to protect them, will hide them away where they can become forgotten and unappreciated, depriving our children of much-needed natural experiences in the process.
When we surveyed Arlingtonians as part of updating the Public Spaces Master Plan in 2016, people said their #1 most important recreational facility was paved trails. Their #2 most important facility was hiking trails. Somehow though, the creation of new trails through our beautiful natural areas never seems to make it to fruition.
The feedback form is quite structured with a number of textboxes for free-form comments. We think the best opportunities to speak about access and trails are in the "Nature in Arlington" section; here are some model responses to two questions in that section that we think highlight the importance and opportunities of trail access:
"If you could snap your fingers, what would be your one wish to improve nature in Arlington?"
To make it more accessible. There are beautiful natural areas in Arlington that nobody knows about. Nobody appreciates. Nobody is seeing them, or watching out for them, because they have no easy way to get to them and experience them. Nobody is sounding the alarm about invasive plants taking over. Nobody is sounding the alarm about illegal dumping or new unexpected erosion, because nobody is there to see it. New, sustainably-designed trails in our natural areas would bring people to them. People who could love them and experience them and cherish them and watch out for them. Good stewards do not ignore. They do not isolate. Stewardship is active. It requires us to be present.
"What other important topics do you think need to be added to the list above"
Access to natural areas (via trails, etc.) so that they can be experienced, enjoyed and appreciated