Program

Georgia Trail Summit venues:
Columbus Convention  & Trade Center (CCTC) – 801 Front Avenue
Columbus Marriott – 800 Front Avenue

CCTC Room (208), (209), (210), Dining Gallery (DG), 2nd floor Lobby (2L), Marriott (M), Riverwalk (RW), Bike Valet at curb of CCTC

AICP CM credits are available for the first time. And ASLA honors CEU self reports.

Thursday, April 20

10:00 am – 1:00 pm Mobile Workshop (RW)

Creating the longest urban whitewater trail in the U.S.

A rafting workshop on the Chattahoochee River detailing the history of removing dams to turn the river into a whitewater amenity in high demand. Workshop begins at Whitewater Express, 1000 Bay Avenue. Discounted fee: $20 to Whitewater Express. Please pay in advance using this link and promo code TRAIL17.  Complimentary lunch will be provided along with showers and a place to change clothes.

Richard Bishop, past president, Uptown Columbus and Business Improvement District
River guides with Whitewater Express

12:00 – 1:00 pm Registration and sponsor displays open (2L)

1:00 – 2:10 pm Welcome and Plenary (DG)

Tracie Sanchez, director, Georgia Trail Summit
Julio Portillo,  senior planner, River Valley Regional Commission

Columbus’ missing link: Designing the Dragonfly

Trails are only as strong as their missing links.  Enjoy a panel discussion on the City of Columbus’ new Dragonfly Trails network which includes the existing Chattahoochee RiverWalk and Fall Line Trace.  Learn how the City planned, designed and has now bridged the critical gap between the two trails, achieving connectivity and is moving on toward a 60-mile trail system.

Betsy Covington, CEO & president, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley 
Greta deMayo
, principal owner, KAIZENCOLLABORATIVE
Isaiah Hugley, Columbus City Manager
Ed McBrayer, executive director, PATH Foundation

and in the same session:

Engaging people of color with nature

As a leader of the Diverse Environmental Leadership Network and Speaker’s Bureau and Outward Bound trip leader who regularly takes people of color into nature for health and well-being, Steward is actively building equity in a national movement.  In concert with leaders in cities around the country, she is connecting thousands of people to outdoor experiences on trails and changing the face of those who appreciate being outdoors.

Wandi Steward, Diverse Environmental Leadership Network and Speaker’s Bureau

2:15 – 3:00 pm concurrent sessions

Equity and trails: Atlanta’s Proctor Creek Greenway (208)

Trails can provide economic opportunities and enhance human connection especially in low-income communities.  Learn how to infuse equity and social cohesiveness in trail planning.

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, chief resilience officer, City of Atlanta

and in the same session:

Equity and trails: Affordable housing on the BeltLine (208)

When Nathaniel Smith and Ryan Gravel recently resigned from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board to protest inequities in housing options, the project’s original commitment of providing 5,600 units of affordable housing was placed in the spotlight.  Developers responded, vowing to return to that pledge.  As trails spark new economic prosperity, it’s inequitable for original residents to be displaced because of rising land values.  Smith facilitates partnerships and research opportunities with business and community groups to achieve balanced, sustainable and inclusive development throughout the Atlanta region.

Nathaniel Smith, founder and chief equity officer, Partners for Southern Equity

Highlands to Islands Trail for health and mobility (209)

The Highlands to Islands Trail (H2I) is a multi-segment, multi-jurisdictional trail network, both rural and urban.  It’s being developed for recreation and exercise, and as a clean transportation alternative for Hall County residents.  Leaders strive to promote active lifestyles with easy access to recreational trails; provide connections to high demand areas like schools, colleges, Lake Lanier and downtown districts; and improve long distance cycling throughout Hall County.

Jessica Tullar, special projects manager, Gainesville Community Development

Setting a vision for public parks (210)

Park Pride has become the “voice” for parks in Atlanta and DeKalb County.  Through innovative programs like Friends of the Park, Adopt-a-Park, park visioning and master planning with each community, and an annual conference that attracts national park advocates, the group is bringing people together to build community spaces that endure.  Since 1989, Park Pride helps others increase resources, encourage volunteers and activate the power of parks.

Michael Halicki, executive director, Park Pride

3:05 – 3:50 pm concurrent sessions

Planning and building the Firefly Trail (208)

Get the big picture on how this 39-mile rail-trail was planned and now beginning to be realized in Northeast Georgia from Athens to Union Point near Lake Oconee.

John Devine, senior planner, Northeast Georgia Regional Commission

and in the same session:

Best practices for bike parking and repair (208)

Providing accessible bike parking and bike repair stations is an important factor to consider when planning trails and marketing them. These simple services give users more confidence in biking short and long distances.  If not planned well up front, results can be unsafe and undesirable.

Micah Morrison, southeastern sales, DERO Bike Racks

Building award-winning trails at Cochran Mill Park (209)

The complete process of planning, funding, building and managing sustainable multi-use trails in Chattahoochee Hills’ Cochran Mill Park will be explored.  Well-designed, sustainably-built trails need little maintenance and are safer, more accessible and more fun.  When harnessing the power of volunteers, amazing things can be accomplished.

Tom Reed, mayor, Chattahoochee Hills
Diana Wilson, commissioner, Chattahoochee Hills Parks Commission
Bob Shelor, retired capital projects officer, Mayor’s office, City of Atlanta

and in the same session:

Award winning horse trails at FDR State Park (209)

In an effort to provide all park users with different outdoor recreation options, FDR State Park includes equestrian trails. Learn how this privately run operation within the 9,049-acre park generates revenue and attracts visitors from across Georgia and beyond, pushing park attendance from 4,300 to 12,000 in a year. You’ll hear from the 2016 “Best State Park Programming” award-winning ranger and vendor.

Desmond Timmons, ranger, FDR State Park
Keith Florey, owner operator, Roosevelt Riding Stables

Sustainable trail construction from a contractor’s view (210)

Recommended materials, trail surface types, top down construction methods and drainage will be highlighted. The benefits of collaboration, negotiation and value engineering will also be discussed along with tips for writing and submitting requests for proposals and requests for bids.

Brian Green, managing partner, Nature Bridges
Aaron Steele
, senior project manager, Southern Trail Builders and Steele & Associates

and in the same session:

Innovative funding solutions for trails in Tennessee (210)

Trail builders across Tennessee, from Memphis to Mountain City, have used a variety of private and public funding sources to develop both hard and natural surfaced trails.  Case studies and solid data on how these funds were spent will be provided.

Bob Richards, owner, Bob’s Trails, Trees and Gardens

3:50 – 4:00 pm Trail mix break (L)

4:00 – 4:45 pm concurrent sessions

Vision 53: Accessing the Chattahoochee waterfront (208)

Great places flow from great rivers. That’s why Chattahoochee NOW is focused on a 53-mile corridor of the Chattahoochee, from the south end of the National Recreation Area to Chattahoochee Bend State Park. Today, there are few places to access this stretch of river – or even see it. It can become a vibrant corridor of sustainability for the region where recreation, preservation, community and economic vitality are interconnected.

Ryan Gravel, consultant, Sixpitch
Jodi Mansbach, board chair, Chattahoochee NOW

Show me the money: Public funding options for trails (209)

Funding opportunities to plan, design, build and manage paved trails and protected bike lanes will be explored. You’ll have a better understanding of the many public sources available for trails and “complete streets” that connect trails with places people want to go.

Elliott Caldwell, complete streets manager, Georgia Bikes!

and in the same session:

The first step from brownfields (209) – CANCELLED

Wondering how to begin a trail plan for your community or neighborhood? Who’s involved? Where do funds come from? How to tap state and federal agencies for assistance?  Do nonprofits get involved? Learn about several brownfield revitalizations where creating a trail or blueway was the goal. Community representatives who have completed trails will be matched with those just beginning.

Camilla Warren, brownfields project manager, Environmental Protection Agency

Think Big. Manage Small: Concept to constructing mega-trails (210)

Mega-trails are long distance regional trails that connect multiple jurisdictions. They require meaningful partnerships, local support and financial commitment.  Several representative regional trails that have been successfully built or are being designed will be showcased along with effective tools for managing these complicated projects. The  presentation will demonstrate how to manage a large-scale trail design project, how to build successful partnerships with multiple jurisdictions, and effective construction techniques for phasing.

Britt Storck, senior associate, Alta Planning + Design

5:00 – 5:30 pm Trail time and mobile workshop (RW)

Enjoy a guided walk on the history of the Columbus RiverWalk en route to the party.

5:30 – 7:30 pm Party (RW)

Chattahoochee River Club observation deck. Appetizers and cash bar.  Dinner on your own downtown.

Friday, April 21

6:30 – 7:30 am Trail time and mobile workshop (RW)

Guided three-mile trail run on the Georgia-Alabama loop of the Columbus RiverWalk with Big Dog Running Club members; features 3 bridges, trails, and river views!

7:30 – 8:30 am Breakfast (DG), registration and sponsor displays open (L)

8:30 – 9:45 am Welcome and Plenary (DG)

Isaiah Hugley, city manager, City of Columbus
Julio Portillo, senior planner, River Valley Regional Commission
Tracie Sanchez, director, Georgia Trail Summit

Spotlight on the future of Georgia’s trails

While we have leaders of Georgia’s trail community together in one place, let’s take advantage of the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for the future that would serve us all.  What is needed to connect trails and accelerate progress? What hurdles do you need help clearing? How can we, as a group, help each other achieve our goals?  What models already exist here that might provide inspiration for the Georgia Trails Alliance as it matures over the years?

Features spotlight on three emerging trail concepts: East Coast Greenway, Georgia Scholars Trail, and new IMBA + DNR partnership.

John Devine, senior planner, Northeast Georgia Regional Commission – moderator
Eric Bentley, region 3 manager, Georgia State Parks
Brent Buice, GA/SC director, East Coast Greenway Alliance
Eric Ganther, transportation planner, The Coca-Cola Company

9:45 – 10:00 am Coffee break (L)

Browse the UNconference wall; add your ideas for additional topics to discuss.

10:00 – 10:50 am concurrent sessions

Restoring 50 miles of trail on Cumberland Island (208)

In her role as Cumberland Island Trail Restoration Fellow, Buckmaster recruited and led 500 volunteers to restore trails in wilderness settings and designed the first comprehensive trail map. Clearing, building boardwalks and improving signage will be highlighted with tips for maintaining positive relationships with volunteers to create returning stewards. Promoting conservation awareness through outdoor recreation and organized service trips will also be a focus. Schroeder’s work with REI and the National Park Service that kick started the Trail Restoration Project will also be discussed in addition to building a successful social media campaign and efficient project management. 

Laura Buckmaster, stewardship trips coordinator, Georgia Conservancy
Bryan Schroeder, senior director of development and marketing, Georgia Conservancy

and in the same session:

Building trails and parks in retirement (208)

Learn how 36 miles of hiking trails in three counties, and 32 miles of canoe trails were built and funded by volunteers in the past decade. They created their own nonprofit, The Mount Oglethorpe Foundation, to build Eagle’s Rest Park on top of Mount Oglethorpe, now the most used park in Pickens County.  Especially for smaller counties with limited funds for trails, this inspirational story could help you replicate similar results. Their trail crew happens to be all retired men with an average age of 70 working two days weekly, about 46 weeks a year.

Don Wells, president, Mountain Stewards

Making the case for trails with existing resources (209)

Gain a deeper understanding of the many economic arguments you can use to support trails. Excellent tools and resources will be introduced to make your case to all audiences. This includes facts and figures related to economic development, tourism, outdoor recreation, agriculture, forest products, health, increased property values, job creation, cost of community services, and ecosystem services. Specific economic talking points to counter common misconceptions about trails will also be offered.

George Dusenbury, Georgia state director, The Trust for Public Land
Jessica Sargent, director of conservation economics, The Trust for Public Land

Building a water trail to activate your local river (210)

Does your community have a river no one knows about or is thought of negatively as “that place where the riffraff hang out and I’m never gonna bring my kids?” Does your community need revitalization in the areas of recreation, river health and economic development? Learn how to change negative perceptions to become an asset by developing your local river into a popular water trail. Georgia River Network’s Water Trails Program supports a statewide network of water trails with technical assistance and resources.

Gwyneth Moody, director of programs and outreach, Georgia River Network

11:00 – 11:50 am Concurrent sessions

Atlanta BeltLine, Phase 2: Building the Westside Trail (208)

As the BeltLine expands west, the new trail represents a $30 million investment in neighborhoods that have seen disinvestment for decades. Construction is already driving economic development ahead of the trail’s planned opening in August.  Understanding compliance with green infrastructure requirements like Atlanta’s revised storm water ordinance will be highlighted along with other construction challenges for building and maintaining heavily used urban trails.

Kevin Burke, senior landscape architect, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

Blazing Trails: Partnering with universities in community trail projects (209)

By working with community partners, academic geographers bring together theory and practice through class projects that help organizations meet their missions. Columbus State University’s community geographers identify and develop interpretive materials by considering locals as knowledgeable partners in sharing important heritage sites. A review of the Martin Luther King Outdoor Learning Heritage Trail and assessing disability access in downtown Columbus will be presented.

Amanda Rees, professor of geography, Columbus State University

Reclaiming and connecting urban waterfront trails (210)

See how four groups have tackled challenges and leveraged success to connect trails along very different urban environments.  By working together, they are building natural pathways to link communities, green spaces and whole regions. Struggles and successes will be discussed as urban waterways are experiencing a renaissance with environmental groups, residents and developers seeking to use and enhance these corridors as the valuable assets they are.

Debra Edelson, executive director, Emerald Corridor Foundation
Betsy Eggers, chairperson, Peachtree Creek Greenway
Kimberly Estep, executive director, South Fork Conservancy
Jodi Mansbach, board chair, Chattahoochee NOW

11:55 am – 1:15 pm Keynote Lunch and Plenary (DG)

Sweet tea and Southern hospitality are no longer enough: It’s time to jettison the generic in Georgia

Georgia is using cutting edge research to attract future visitors across all generational markets – from millennials to baby boomers. As the tourism industry transitions, so must our thought process about developing enticing tourism opportunities.  It’s time to create experiences visitors can get nowhere else in the country by focusing on our authentic culture, landscapes and unique stories. 

Chris Cannon, assistant director of tourism product development, Georgia Department of Economic Development

and in the same session:

Recipe for successful trail towns:  Carrollton, Columbus, LaGrange and Newnan

Who knows the challenges and rewards of trail building better than Georgia trail guru Ed McBrayer?  He’ll share his team’s proven methods for creating a successful trail town, especially in rural settings. Learn which stakeholders should be at the table, a variety of solid and flexible funding streams, when to focus on branding and wayfinding and whether NIMBYs are even a factor now that trails are such popular, desired amenities.

Ed McBrayer, executive director, PATH Foundation

1:30 – 2:15 pm concurrent sessions

Collaborating with land trusts to build trails (208)

Collaboration is everything!  With more than 5,000 protected acres in Alabama, learn how Freshwater Land Trust has partnered and collaborated with many entities to begin developing a 750-mile trail network on their properties.

Libba Vaughan, executive director, Freshwater Land Trust
Carolyn Buck, Freshwater Land Trust

Enhancing trails’ value: Health policies that work (209)

An introduction to the concept of “health in all policies” will be presented with valuable tools and case studies for considering how health benefits of trails can enhance project planning.  Using these principles, towns across Georgia can accelerate a high-quality biking network.

John Steward, faculty member, Georgia State University School of Public Health

Managing 300 miles of the Benton MacKaye Trail with volunteers (210)

Begun in 1980 and completed in 2005, this mature and popular trail travels through three national forests and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The importance of planning and flexibility in every aspect will be highlighted. Other challenges to be discussed include organizing volunteers effectively for trail maintenance including safety and insurance; planning and completing trail reroutes; the varied expectations of different National Forests; and expanding the association’s role amidst changing demographics of trail users.

Tom Keene, president, Benton MacKaye Trail Association

2:15 – 2:30 pm Coffee break

2:30 – 5:00 pm Mobile Workshop

Dragonfly Trails Tour: Connecting the Columbus RiverWalk and Fall Line Trace (RW)

Meet at the Front Street entrance facing the Marriott to bike the trails with champions of the effort to connect Columbus trails. The seven-mile roundtrip ride visits the RiverWalk, Dragonfly Trails and Fall Line Trace rail trail. Ride on Bikes will provide 20 bikes onsite. Reserve one at registration when you arrive or bring your own.

Betsy Covington, CEO and president, Community Foundation of Chattahoochee Valley
Ken Henson, chair, Friends of the Dragonfly
Julio Portillo, senior planner, River Valley Regional Commission

2:30 – 3:15 pm UNconference Round 1 (208, 209, 210, or step outside)

Visit the UNconference wall to choose an idea to discuss further in small groups.  Topics already suggested include:

Fountain City Cycling App
Logan Kipp, planner, City of Columbus

Georgia Scholars Trail
Eric Ganther, transportation planner, The Coca-Cola Company

3:15 – 3:30 pm Trail mix snack break

3:30 – 4:15 pm UNconference Round 2 (208, 209, 210, or step outside)

Visit the UNconference wall to choose an idea to discuss further in small groups. Topics already suggested include:

Marrying trails and tourism
Ansley Glenn, owner, Season’s Peak Marketing

Ask a Contractor
Brian Green, managing partner, Nature Bridges
Aaron Steele
, senior project manager, Southern Trail Builders and Steele & Associates

4:30 – 4:45 pm Closing remarks (DG)

Quick wrap-up and details for Friday parties and Saturday workshops.

5:00 – 5:30 pm Trail time and mobile workshop (RW)

Enjoy a guided walk on the history of the Columbus RiverWalk en route to the party.

5:30 – 7:30 pm Party (RW)

Eagle & Phenix Historic Lofts deck on the Riverwalk.  Enjoy a cash bar and appetizers catered by EPIC Restaurant.  Dinner on your own downtown or from food trucks at the concert.

7:00 – 10:00 pm Concert downtown

After dinner, stop by the Trail Summit tent downtown and enjoy live music by River City Horns at Uptown’s Friday Night concert series (free) on Broadway (between 10th and 11th).

Saturday, April 22 – Earth Day

8:00 – 9:15 am Breakfast (M)

Meet your workshop leader and head out to the trail after a solid breakfast buffet.  Be sure to select mobile workshop(s) in advance when you register on Eventbrite.

9:30 – 12:30 pm Eight concurrent Mobile Workshops (M)

Callaway Gardens Discovery Trail Bike Tour

Enjoy a guided bicycle tour of their newly repaved Discovery Bicycle Trail – a 10-mile ride.  Focus on the trail itself or use it to enjoy many other attractions available at the peak of springtime beauty.  Admission to Callaway Gardens and bike rental with helmets are complimentary for this workshop. Or bring your own bike.  Enjoy lunch on your own in the restaurant adjacent to the Discovery Center. The park is in Pine Mountain and on the way home if you live north of Columbus.

Tom Garmon, bicycle supervisor, Callaway Gardens

Uptown tree canopy walk with Trees Columbus

Commune with nature on this informative walk beginning in the Uptown Columbus Historic District and onto the Columbus RiverWalk.  Ideas to consider trails creatively as nature walks will be discussed.  Wear walking shoes and comfortable clothes.

Dorothy McDaniel, executive director, Trees Columbus

Paddle the Chattahoochee Valley Blueway

Join us for a fascinating 4-hour, 7-mile flatwater paddle on one of Georgia’s 17 developing water trails. Along the way, you’ll learn about key elements necessary for a successful water trail and the progress and current status of the Chattahoochee Valley Blueway. Setting the vision, engaging the community and securing funding will be covered. Kayaks and gear provided onsite.

Gwyneth Moody, director of programs and outreach, Georgia River Network
Chris Largent, owner, Outside World Columbus
Roger Martin, Chattahoochee River Warden, Columbus
Michael Dentzau, director, CSU’s Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center
Susan Patterson, director of philanthropy, The Trust for Public Land Georgia
William Kent, manager, Columbus Water Works

Mountain bike ride at Flat Rock Park

CVA SORBA will lead a caravan of cars from the Marriott to the park where you will mountain bike the natural trails of Flat Rock Park adjacent to the Fall Line Trace. Bring your own mountain bike, or rent one for $50 at Ride on Bikes.

Matt Crow, board member, Chattahoochee Valley Area SORBA
Andrew Kloster, president, Chattahoochee Valley Area SORBA

Equestrian ride at FDR Park

Keith Florey, owner operator, Roosevelt Riding Stables at FDR State Park will host an equestrian trail ride for those who bring their own horse and gear.  The park is in Pine Mountain and on the way home if you live north of Columbus.  If you are interested in a guided trail ride, call Keith ASAP to reserve a horse at 706-628-7463. Available from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm with an additional $40 fee. No experience necessary.

MLK Heritage Trail walking tour

Join local leaders for a walking tour to explore the evolution of an African American heritage trail. Learn about the process of civic engagement through community heritage workshops that supports making real what has already been lost.  Visit a major site along the trail that is ripe for interpretation and preservation: Carver Heights Motel.

Amanda Rees, professor of geography, Columbus State University

Columbus RiverWalk geocache tour

The Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau was the first CVB in the world to launch a GeoTour.  Their 31 cache trail on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk promotes interesting aspects of the city.  Learn how to plan, build and manage a geocache tour in your city and begin reaping the benefits. There are over one million active geocaches around the world and now, with the RiverWalk GeoTour, there are even more reasons to bring the family and hike along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk.

Peter Bowden, president and CEO, Columbus Georgia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Dragonfly Trails Bike Tour:  Connecting the Columbus RiverWalk and Fall Line Trace

Experience connectivity at its finest as you bike three trails with champions of the effort to connect Columbus trails. The 21-mile roundtrip ride visits the RiverWalk, Dragonfly Trails and Fall Line Trace rail trail. Bring your own bike or rent one for $10 from Ride on Bikes though our ride host, Bikes Columbus. Sample route in MapMyRide: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/1527660754

Pat McHenry, Bikes Columbus
Brent Buice, GA/SC director, East Coast Greenway

Market Days on Broadway

Stroll the delightful open air market on your own on Broadway between 9th and 12th.

1:00 pm Happy trails and see you next year!

We welcome the Georgia Planning Association as a partner of the Georgia Trail Summit.

Please visit our Sponsors page to learn more about the forward-thinking groups supporting Georgia’s trails.

Eventbrite - Georgia Trail Summit 2015

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