Water Trail Toolbox: Planning a Water Trail
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Turning the idea of a water trail into a reality will depend on the thoroughness of your planning. This section provides advice on getting started, developing grassroots support, and drafting a plan for building the trail.

1. Getting Started

Begin by forming a strong core group of similarly inclined individuals and representatives of organizations who are keenly interested in establishing a water trail and will share in the workload. Develop a vision statement and mission statement that describes the desired future condition of the water trail and how the group wants to proceed. [Learn more]

2. Garnering Community Support

With the basic organization in place, the advisory committee should begin expanding the constituency and supporters for the water trail. The trail will not succeed without widespread community support. It’s time to identify stakeholders, gather data supporting the initiative, recruit volunteers, and raise funds. [Learn more]

3. Drafting A Water Trail Plan

Planning and developing a water trail requires maintaining a careful balance between protecting the resource and responding to the needs of landowners, trail users, and the community. You have established a steering committee or formal organization, talked with the stakeholders, established partnerships, recruited volunteers, and started raising funds. Now it is time to study the evidence and make some thoughtful choices about the character of the trail. [Learn more]


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