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New state report highlights non-motorized trail use

July 6, 2015

A new state report on non-motorized trail use summarizes survey results of approximately 1,400 trail users across the state, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) announces.

The survey included questions about use patterns, user experiences and preferences, as well as the economic contribution of trail recreation. Non-motorized trail use includes walking, hiking, running, backpacking, bicycling on hard surface trails, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

"Trails continue to be the one of the main ways Oregonians from any background enjoy the outdoors," says Lisa Sumption, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department director. "We're hearing that people want their smaller, local trails connected to the longer, regional ones so they can enjoy a more natural experience. We agencies can get there by cooperating on planning, maintenance, and grants."

Results showed that non-motorized trail activities generated an estimated $2.1 billion in expenditure across the state in 2014. In turn, this expenditure contributed 21,730 jobs, $1 billion in value added, and $672 million in labor income. When out-of-state visitors are included, the estimated amounts increase to 24,340 jobs, $1.2 billion in value added, and $753 million in labor income.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Walking and hiking are the most popular trail activities.
  • Walking or running with a dog off-leash was the second-most frequent activity on trails.
  • Two-thirds of respondents walked or ran specifically on an ocean beach at least once during the past 12 months.
  • Older Oregonians are less likely to participate in trail activities overall. Most popular trail activities for this demographic include walking on local trails or paths and cross-country skiing.
  • Eleven percent of statewide respondents use recreation-oriented trails to walk or bike to work, with the highest percentage in Lane County (36 percent).
  • Respondents most commonly prefer dirt surface trails for all activities other than biking on hard surface trails.
  • Respondents prefer creating new trails to reduce crowding, rather than letting existing trails remain crowded. This is especially true for mountain bikers.
  • Respondents' top priority for new trails was adding walking/ hiking trails both inside and outside one's community. Trails for hard surface bicycling were the next highest priority for within one's community, while trails for backpacking were the next highest priority for outside one's community.
  • Repair of major trail damage was identified as the highest funding priority over the next 10 years, followed by protection of natural features and routine trail maintenance.
  • The top trail concern was an inability to experience the natural environment while using trails. Respondents also indicated that they would like to see more trail information on the internet and more trail signs and markers.
  • Word of mouth is the most frequent source for seeking information about trails, followed by agency websites and printed maps.

OPRD contracted with Oregon State University in 2014 to conduct the survey, a component of the 2015-2024 Statewide Trails Plan. Results provide state planners with up-to-date information on trails recreation for use in local and regional planning. OPRD will also use the information in distributing grants to federal, state, and local government agencies that maintain and develop non-motorized trail opportunities.

To view the entire report, visit http://tinyurl.com/qydclea.