Promoting and Developing a Trail Network Across Suburban, Rural, and Urban Communities

An Active Living by Design (ALbD) national program grant built 22 miles of multi-use trails in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley.

The Wyoming Valley is a community of small urban, suburban and rural municipalities along the Susquehanna River. Rates of heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes in the Valley exceed national averages. During the 90s, local parks and environmental officials planned a network of outdoor trails throughout the region. In 1999, subsequent to the development of the trail plan, health and environmental officials formed the Wyoming Valley Wellness Trails Partnership to promote use of the trails for active living.

In 2003, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) accepted the Partnership’s proposal for an ALbD national program grant. At the time of the grant only eight of a planned 93 miles of multi-use trails existed. Over the course of the grant period, the Partnership addressed each area of the ALbD’s ecologic community action model, the 5Ps.

Key Findings:

  • Promotions included more than $40,000 TV, radio, and print media exposure in 2007 and 2008. There are now an estimated 25,000 annual visits to both the Greater Hazleton and Back Mountain trails.
  • As part of its policy strategy, the Trails Partnership currently serves on the steering committee and has provided funding to two Trail Master Plans begun in 2008.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the ALbD national grant program in 2001. After a review of more than 900 proposals, ALbD formed partnerships with 25 community organizations. Each ALbD partnership received five years of funding.