In sustainable trail planning, stakeholders have to take in a wide variety of factors that vary over the course of any given trail, leading to a headache-inducing amount of data that can be difficult to parse for the average person. To address this, the Conservation Biology Institute is working with the US Forest Service to create a Trails Assessment and Planning Tool.
Using their Environmental Evaluation Modeling System, a tree-based modeling system that turns disparate data into fuzzy values to produce a single evaluation metric, CBI has created a blueprint for the trails model that looks at the physical, environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainability and gives spatially-explicit scores that can be averaged to look at the trail as a whole or used to assess individual areas of the trail.
Currently, the scope of this project is Deschutes County in Oregon and CBI has partnered with the Deschutes Trails Coalition to build a prototype tool that will be scaled up to meet the needs of the USFS and their partners within the states of Oregon and Washington. This prototype will be created collaboratively and prevent any black-box decision making, allowing stakeholders to answer questions relating to sustainable trails planning in a transparent way.
For more information about this project, visit CBI’s project page.