Water Trail Toolbox: Garnering Community Support
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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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.

Identify Stakeholders

Identify all individuals and groups in your community that could have an interest in or be affected by the creation of the water trail. They are your stakeholders. Some stakeholders may become partners—those who will work jointly on shared goals. Others may become sponsors—those who support the trail with funds, resources, or expertise. Some may become opponents of the trail. To be successful, you must understand and address the interests and concerns of all of these stakeholders. [Learn more]

Gather Data

Conduct a feasibility study. Identify needs, problems, and opportunities. Determine the funds and other resources required to establish and maintain the trail. Create a development plan and budget. Your best case for your trail system will be one that articulates benefits to the community.

Communicate with Stakeholders

Conduct face-to-face interviews with community leaders, meet with focus groups, mail a survey to all landowners that may be affected by the proposed water trail, conduct public forums and meet one-on-one with water trail opponents. Develop a variety of ways to communicate with the different kinds of stakeholders. [Learn more]

Establish a Formal Organization

Consider establishing, after gaining sufficient community support, a permanent organization to implement the development and management plans and to carry out fundraising and personnel initiatives, including the hiring of a professional staff. Members of the advisory committee may well become officers and directors of the new organization. An alternative to establishing a formal organization would be to have one of your partners “adopt” the water trail as an ongoing project. [Learn more]

Recruit Volunteers

Enlist volunteers to carry out day-to-day stewardship tasks and special development projects. Your organization cannot succeed without a solid corps of volunteers. Use their expertise so their tasks are meaningful. Recognize their contributions. [Learn more]

Raise Funds

Develop a fundraising plan based on projects in your development plan. Focus first on obtaining contributions of money, services, products, and labor from the local community. Then, extend your fundraising efforts to a larger, regional audience and to state and federal agencies and foundations that provide grants. [Learn more]

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - Comments or Questions: Call: 1-800-YOUR-BAY