Rail-Trail Projects Like Sbt Bring Real Benefit To Trail Communities And Region

Rail-Trail Projects Like Sbt Bring Real Benefit To Trail Communities And Region

An abundance of case studies on rail-trail projects across the nation clearly show the positive economic connection between trail use and local economies. The Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency (STIA) is preparing to study and document this connection in communities along the trail, and to examine other social and health benefits as a way of describing the Salmonberry Trail’s potential impact in the region.

In the meantime, while STIA gets that work underway, a look at similar studies from trails around the nation highlights the direct economic benefit (sales revenue, jobs, wages) and indirect economic benefit (dollars circulating in the local economy) trails bring to a community:

  • In communities along Pennsylvania’s Great Allegheny Passage trail, which bears similarities with the vision for the Salmonberry Trail, 30 percent of gross business revenue (almost $12 million in 2008) was a direct result of trail use, and represented a significant increase from pre-trail revenues.
  • The Little Miami River Scenic Trail in southeastern Ohio generated on average $13.54 per visitor on food, beverages and transportation, and $277 per person each year on clothing, equipment and accessories for use during trail outings.
  • The presence of the American Tobacco Trail outside Durham, North Carolina generates 43 additional jobs in the region, including $1.3 million in annual employee wages and $4.9 million in gross business revenues.

Other economic benefit common denominators noted in a study of more than a dozen comparable trails include:

  1. Increased property value for properties along the trail.
  2. Increased spending at local businesses in “trail towns.”
  3. Enhanced “sense of place” and livability in communities along the trail.
  4. Reduced health care costs resulting from an increase in exercise and healthy outdoor activity.
  5. Increase in jobs, wages and local taxbase.

The Oregon Statewide Trails Plan estimates that Oregon’s current non-motorized trails provide more than $1.9 billion in economic value into the state’s economy.

More to follow later this year as STIA gains insight into how the Salmonberry Trail can improve social, health and economic values in the region.

Wheeler, Oregon