to Get Involved in the Rails-to-Trails Movement
are hundreds of rail-trails in the United States, and every
one of them came into being because of the dedication of
citizen advocates like you. Whether you have an hour or a
lifetime to contribute, the rails-to-trails movement needs
your involvement! Try one or more of the following suggested
activities and see how easy it can be to help build
rail-trails in your community.
YOU HAVE AN HOUR...
to your elected representatives
on the state, local or federal level, elected officials affect
the rails-to-trails movement. Urge your representatives to
endorse rail-trails and bring them to your community. The
addresses for all Members of Congress are: United States
Senate, Washington, DC 20510; and U.S. House of
Representatives, Washington, DC 20515.
letters to the editor or opinion articles
the word about rail-trails is one of the best ways to help the
movement, and the letters-to-the-editor section is the most
heavily-read section of your daily newspaper. Write briefly
(try to limit to one page) and clearly, in support of your
local rail-trail or trail project.
your local parks, recreation or transportation officials
decisions are made at all levels of government, especially in
the parks, recreation and transportation department. Contact
your county and local governments and encourage them to build
rail-trails in your area.
a member of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and encourage your
friends to do the same
technical and legal assistance, publications, conferences and
seminars, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy helps agencies and
citizens convert rails into trails. Membership dues help
finance Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s ongoing efforts to
preserve the nation’s rail corridors for public trails.
a rally for a local rail-trail
your support for a local project by attending a rally or other
rail-trail function in your area.
YOU HAVE A DAY...
a rail-trail with a friend
someone new to your favorite rail-trail. Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy publishes a comprehensive national directory of
rail-trails. To order Rails-to-Trails Conservancy publications
call 1-800-888-7747 (ext. 11).
public hearings about a rail-trail effort
hearings are generally held during the planning phase of
public projects, and citizen involvement is crucial. Attend a
hearing to support a rail-trail project and speak in favor of
the trail during the public comment time. (If a trail group
exists you may want to work with it to get on the speaker
for a trail clearing, clean-up or construction activity
may be a trail effort near you in need of help with site
preparation activities or simply keeping the proposed trail
clear of litter and debris. Consult your local newspaper
activities section for trail events in your area.
YOU HAVE SEVERAL HOURS A MONTH...
an active member of a trail effort
underpinning of any trail effort is the dedication of
volunteers willing to contribute active and ongoing support to
the rail-trail project. In addition to general assistance,
almost every trail effort needs people with specific
knowledge, such as public relations, law, writing, graphic
arts, fundraising, computers, botany, advertising and much
a "friends of the rail-trail" group in your area
addition to visiting your favorite rail-trail, participate in
trail-related activities. A "friends of the trail"
group will keep you informed of events and opportunities for
a rail-trail effort through your community group
you belong to a local bicycle group, a chapter of a
conservation society or a business association, your
organization would benefit from a rail-trail and could help
make it happen. Discuss rail-trails at your next meeting, and
suggest adopting a local project. [Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
produces a "meeting in a box" kit, including a video
and supporting written materials, which is available for
$29.95 ($24.95 for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy members).]
a citizen task force or advisory committee
task forces, such as a Mayor’s Bicycling Advisory Board,
directly influence public agencies. By joining one you can
help guide the rail-trail agenda in your community.
the trail where you work/worship/recreate
benefit all sectors of the community. Spread the word to your
friends, co-workers, religious and civic groups, and other
neighborhood organizations by making a rail-trail presentation
at your next meeting or planning a trip on an existing
YOU CAN MAKE A LONGER COMMITMENT...
a rail-trail coalition/citizen group
a rail right-of-way to a trail requires the creation of a
constituency powerful enough to overcome political, legal and
financial hurdles. If no rail-trail group exists in your area,
you may find it’s time to start one. Order Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy’s Secrets of Successful Rail-Trails: An
Acquisition and Organizing Manual for Converting Rails into
Trails. Available for $19.95 ($16.95 for Rails-to-Trails
Conservancy members) plus $4.50 shipping and handling, the
manual takes you step-by-step through the entire
rails-to-trails conversion process - from researching the
corridor and building a citizen coalition, to generating
publicity and negotiating with railroad companies. (If you
order more than one Rails-to-Trails Conservancy publication,
include $4.50 shipping and handling for the first book and $1
for each additional book.)
a "friends of the trail" group
there is already a rail-trail in your area you can help make
it better. A "friends of the trail" group keeps the
community involved with a local rail-trail and acts as a
watchdog to protect it from vandalism, abuse, encroachment and
other threats. Work with the trail’s manager to make the
a non-profit public organization, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
is wholly supported by its membership. Help make our vision a
reality by joining today at one of the following membership
levels: regular ($18); supporting ($25); patron ($50);
benefactor ($100); advocate ($500); or Trailblazer Society
Conservancy 1100 17th Street, NW 10th Fl. / Washington, D.C.
20036 202-331-9696 Voice / 202-331-9680 Fax www.railtrails.org