On September 15th, Friends’ Executive Director, Kelsey Ripper, testified as part of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee’s Hearing on Outdoor Recreation. Kelsey’s testimony focused on the many positive impacts of trails, including on the economy and people’s health, especially important during these extraordinary times.
She also emphasized the need for trail maintenance funding to properly care for these aging assets and ensure they are available for years to come.
“Our volunteers and trail stewards contribute over 6,000 hours of work along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail each year. While some work can be done through volunteers, larger infrastructure repairs and maintenance needs a reliable source of funding. Volunteers can cut back vegetation, plant trees, and pick up litter, but they cannot lay asphalt and repair bridges.”
She also urged lawmakers to take a role in bringing railroad companies to the table to come up with innovative and collaborative solutions to fill trail gaps along railroad corridors.
“While the region has seen a significant decline in heavy industry, industrial businesses and railroads along our riverfronts continue to provide vital jobs and transportation, but present challenges to trail development. We need to work together to develop collaborative and innovative solutions that meet the needs of industry, as well as communities’ need to access their rivers, recreational opportunities, and alternative transportation.”