A recent report tells us something we already knew – that people who come to hike local trails spend money in local communities. An economic impact report released by the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council said that four trail networks alone generate $29.6 million annually in local expenditures throughout Vermont.
The report comes after the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that requires the outdoor recreation industry to be included in the federal government’s annual calculation of national economic productivity. The bill was authored by Vermont Representative Peter Welch in an effort to get recognition for the economic benefits of pursuits like skiing, hiking, canoeing and biking.
The document shows 325 jobs directly supported by trail networks, and $5.6 million spent on food and beverages annually in local towns along the trail systems. That’s good news for many communities in the Green Mountain State, especially those that depend on tourism, because it shows that adding trail infrastructure also add dollars to local economies.
The Trails and Greenways Council is a non-profit organization established by the Vermont Legislature in 1995, whose mission is to see that people will always have access to adequate land- and water-based trails and greenways in Vermont.
The report looked at direct consumer spending associated with using trails (trail tickets, rentals, gear purchases), and the activities sporty people love doing before and after hitting the trails, such as visiting a nearby pub or having a sandwich.
The study is the first to look at the direct economic impact from a sample of Vermont’s regional trail networks, which combine multiple forms of motorized and non-motorized recreation managed by non-profit statewide and regional organizations.
The four organizations evaluated in the study are the Catamount Trail Association, Green Mountain Club, Kingdom Trails Association, and Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association. Now that there’s accurate data on the impact Vermont’s trail network has on the local financial picture, we’d urge communities to take a look at their own trail systems.
A few well-placed forest pathways could translate to dollars in the pockets of local businesses.