Rails to Trails
Bicycle Trails
Alabama Trails
Bicycle trails
Roller Blading

Friends of the 
Covered Bridge Trail
Nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching Blount County by
creating a public trail from a former rail in Blount County AL



Rails to Trails

Rails to Trails

How to Get Involved in the Rails-to-Trails Movement

There 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.


Write to your elected representatives

Whether 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.

Write letters to the editor or opinion articles

Spreading 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.

Contact your local parks, recreation or transportation officials

Rail-trail 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.

Become a member of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and encourage your friends to do the same

Through 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.

Attend a rally for a local rail-trail

Show your support for a local project by attending a rally or other rail-trail function in your area.


Enjoy a rail-trail with a friend

Introduce 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).

Attend public hearings about a rail-trail effort

Public 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 list.)

Volunteer for a trail clearing, clean-up or construction activity

There 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.


Become an active member of a trail effort

The 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 more.

Join a "friends of the rail-trail" group in your area

In 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 participation.

Adopt a rail-trail effort through your community group

Whether 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).]

Join a citizen task force or advisory committee

Many 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.

Promote the trail where you work/worship/recreate

Rail-trails 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 rail-trail.


Form a rail-trail coalition/citizen group

Converting 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.)

Organize a "friends of the trail" group

If 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 trail better!

As 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 ($1,000).

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 1100 17th Street, NW 10th Fl. / Washington, D.C. 20036 202-331-9696 Voice / 202-331-9680 Fax www.railtrails.org


For more information contact:
Friends of the Covered Bridge Trail
POB 1902 - Oneonta AL 35121-0021
Blount: Vicky Wilson 205-647-6961
              Cliff Robinson 205-429-3150
Jefferson: Mike Wesson 205-681-7899

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Last modified:October 20, 1999
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