Program

Keynote Speakers

Adrian Benepe is senior vice president and director of national programs for The Trust for Public Land, Adrian Benepe is one of the nation’s experts on the nexus of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in public-space development and management. Adrian will set the stage for the discussions to follow about how trails build communities. He will discuss his personal knowledge of several case studies including the Hudson River Greenway, a 13 mile waterfront trail that was the first continuous trail on the west side of Manhattan. He will also share his experience with trails in Jamaica Bay and along the Bronx River, and the 606, an urban rails-to-trails project in Chicago. He has also advised on the Long Island Trail project, the Queensway, the Atlanta Beltline, and several trails being developed in Chattanooga.

Kona Gray, FASLA: During his 26-year career, Kona Gray has practiced on a global stage, providing inspiration and enhancing professional awareness. His portfolio ranges from large-scale planning to detailed site design, with emphasis on communities, urban parks, hospitality and campus environments. Blending sensitivity and context with creative design solutions, Kona unites a client’s vision with his vanguard viewpoint producing designs with purpose and presence. Currently, he is designing projects in Florida, California, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, China, Dubai (UAE), Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Antigua. A registered Landscape Architect and ASLA Fellow, Kona earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia. Kona is the newly elected Vice President for Professional Practice on the ASLA national Board of Trustees Executive Committee and a Past President of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

Gena Wirth, PLA: Gena is the Design Principal at SCAPE. Trained in landscape architecture, urban planning and horticulture, Gena draws from her interdisciplinary training to create ecologically rich and culturally relevant landscapes from the infrastructural scale to the site level. Gena leads the design on several significant projects in the office. Gena was on the original Oyster-tecture team and was the Project Manager for SCAPE’s involvement in SIRR, studying large-scale harbor-wide strategies for coastal protection measures that will be utilized in preparation for the next Superstorm. She was also the Project Manager for SCAPE’s winning Rebuild By Design proposal, Living Breakwaters, a climate change resiliency strategy for the South Shore of Staten Island.

Breakout Sessions

If We Connect, They Will Return: Butterflies and Chestnuts Attracting People to Nature Trails

The South Fork trail experiment in Fulton and DeKalb Counties connecting neighbors along an urban creek included two projects and several partnerships. The American Chestnut Foundation and the Chattahoochee Nature Center offered leadership and support. Together, their expert scientific knowledge brought school children, teachers, parents, scout leaders, and grandparents to the trails for repeated visits to plan, tend, and enjoy the restoration of chestnuts, milkweed, and butterflies. These projects helped introduce different neighborhoods, ages, and abilities to the trails and to each other – building new social capital around a trail project.

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Speakers:

  • Sally Sears: Founding Director, The South Fork Conservancy
  • John French, Ph.D.: Bio Chemist, The American Chestnut Foundation
  • Henning von Schmeling: Senior Director of Operations, The Chattahoochee Nature Center
  • Lisa Kiely: Founder, Milkweed for Monarchs
  • Mark Stoakes: Georgia Chapter President, The American Chestnut Foundation

Leveraging Utility Corridors

One of the biggest challenges for building a trail is finding the right of way. Representatives from Georgia Power, Southern Company Gas and a local water department will provide their perspective on utility corridors and how you can work with them to build a trail. You also will learn how Valdosta/Lowndes County was able to build a park in a Georgia Power easement.

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Speakers:

  • Joey Slaughter: Manager of Natural Resources, Georgia Power
  • George Page: Executive Director Valdosta/Lowndes County Parks & Rec Authority / Sports Tourism
  • Susan Rutherford: Stormwater Program Director, City of Atlanta

Build a Water Trail in Your Community

As more communities look for new ways to increase economic development by tapping into existing resources, water trails are becoming a cost effective tourism draw that connect to local greenways, hiking, and biking trails. In this session Gwyneth Moody will cover the key elements necessary to develop your local waterway into a water trail using proven guidelines and examples of successes and lessons learned. Georgia River Network will also showcase the newly developed Georgia Water Trail River User App – the newest resource in their Water Trail Toolbox – created to help communities promote their established water trails.

 Joe Cook will give a local/specific example of water trail development by presenting on the Etowah River Water Trail’s successes and lessons learned. 

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Speakers:

  • Gwyneth Moody: Director of Water Trails and Outreach, Georgia River Network
  • Joe Cook: Georgia River User’s Guidebook Series Author & Paddle Georgia Coordinator, GA River Network

 Creative Approaches to Trail Building: Lessons Learned from the Atlanta BeltLine

Atlanta BeltLine Inc, and its partners are taking creative and opportunistic approaches to expedite the build-out of a 33-mile-plus trail network that connects 46 communities across Atlanta. This session considers four planned and active trail segments that exemplify the organization’s new strategies. The proposed trail segments promise to forge new connections between Atlanta communities with different physical, ecological and socioeconomic circumstances. Each project is tailored to local conditions and designed to deliberately address community needs and challenges.

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Speakers:

  • Kevin W. Burke, PLA, FASLA: Director of Design, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
  • Pete Pellegrini: Project Manager, PATH Foundation

Tackling Challenging Greenway Projects: 26 Lessons Learned

This session will present the process of Chattanooga’s Greenway development from a master plan to a bike ride on the finished trail. Challenges faced included steep slopes, wetlands, river and railroad crossings, site inaccessibility, and bridge placement. Illustrations on the construction process and the use of a deck-built procedure to build as you go will be highlighted. The presentation of 26 lessons learned will be integrated into the session to provide useful tips to help you avoid pitfalls in your next project.

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Speakers:

  • Larry Zehnder, CPRP: Retired Administrator Chattanooga Parks, Recreation Arts and Culture, City of Chattanooga
  • Steve Provost: Vice President, Barge Design Solutions, Inc
  • John Brown, PLA LEED AP: Senior Landscape Architect, Barge Design Solutions
  • Ben Nemec: Senior Engineering Manager, Barge Design Solutions
  • Jenny Park: Tennessee State Director,  The Trust for Public Land

Florida’s Vision for Trails, Blueways, and Greenways

Outdoor recreation is a major driver of tourism in Florida. Resource-based outdoor recreation also contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Because of Florida’s climate, diversity of natural landscapes, and award-winning state parks, waterways, and trails, the state offers a tremendous selection of trail, greenway, and blueway experiences for residents as well as visitors. Linking these individual opportunities into a larger recreation and conservation system is essential to maximizing the value of individually planned and managed public lands. The Florida Greenways and Trails System is the foundation for connecting and providing access to recreational hubs ranging from sizeable state and national forests to small community parks. Making this happen requires coordination, education, promotion, partnerships, and strategic investments. Outdoor recreation and the Florida Greenways and Trails System stand to be an international attraction, providing a safe and unforgettable experience for residents and visitors to the state. Florida is positioned at the forefront of an exciting period that will result in improved health and wellness, economic growth, increased alternative transportation methods and outdoor recreation opportunities, more livable communities and increased conservation efforts, all of which all contribute to an improved quality of life.

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Speakers:

  • Britney Moore: Outdoor Recreation Program Manager,  Florida Office of Greenways and Trails
  • Doug Alderson: Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator,  Apalachicola Riverkeeper

A Bipartisan Legislative Trail Caucus for Georgia

An effort is underway to create a bipartisan Trail Caucus in the Georgia Legislature. The panel members represent organizations that initiated that effort: The Firefly Trail, Georgia Bikes, and the East Coast Greenway. Panelists will recall the origins of the current efforts, consider the progress to date, and seek audience input on future participation in the Trail Caucus Initiative.

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Speakers:

  • Tom Keene: Treasurer and Executive Committee Member, Firefly Trail, Inc.
  • John Kissane: Trail Development Coordinator, Firefly Trail Inc.
  • Elliott Caldwell: Executive Director, Georgia Bikes
  • Brent Buice: South Carolina and Georgia Coordinator, East Coast Greenway

Funding Your Trail

Once you develop your great trail project and garner the necessary political support, how do you pay for it?  Representatives from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the PATH Foundation will discuss federal and state funding opportunities, while an expert from The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance Team will explore the many ways that local governments can develop funding streams to build trails.

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Speakers:

  • Lindsey Brown: Recreational Trails Program Coordinator, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
  • Pegeen Hanrahan: Southeast Conservation Finance Director, The Trust for Public Land
  • Jay Byars: County Councilman, Dorchester County SC
  • Eric Meyer: Policy Director, Office of DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader

Parks Allatoona: Connecting Town & Wilderness, Past & Present

This session will discuss concept development, trail planning, interagency collaboration, progress & actions to date, and projected future decisions needed for the Parks Allatoona concept to reach fruition. The session will outline how the urban area of Bartow County and Cartersville will connect to the impressive adjoining, but presently inaccessible wilderness area along the mountainous terrain adjacent to Lake Allatoona’s northern and Stamp Creek shoreline. This session will focus on how the proposed trail system connects to economic development, quality of life, users’ mental health, and the importance of the natural environment exposure to urban populations and area youth.

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Speakers:

  • Mike Bearden: Community Volunteer, Parks Allatoona Visionary; Lake Allatoona Assoc. Inc. Chair; Bartow County Emissary
  • Ed Bostick: Community Volunteer, Bartow County Greenspace Committee; Georgia Botanical Society
  • Joe Head: Vice President, Etowah Valley Historical Society
  • Mollie Smith: Marketing Coordinator, Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Revealing the Chattahoochee RiverLands

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the Trust for Public Land, the City of Atlanta, and Cobb County have completed the Chattahoochee RiverLands Greenway Study. SCAPE, a nationally renowned landscape architecture firm and urban design studio, led the study in collaboration with a large, multi-disciplinary team including Gresham Smith and others. Panelists will discuss the highlights of the study’s process and proposals. The ambitious project demanded a unique approach to engagement. More than 75 meetings with stakeholders, the general public, and one-on-one meetings with community leaders and activists led to the development of a vision that prioritizes equitable access and local community priorities.

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Speakers:

  • Chris Barnes, RLA  Studio Director / SCAPE Landscape Architecture, NOLA
  • Byron Rushing: Bicycling & Walking Program Manager, Atlanta Regional Commission
  • Walt Ray,  PLA;   Chattahoochee Program Director;   Trust for Public Land
  • Erin L. Thoresen, AICP Georgia Planning/Traffic Engineering Deputy Dept. Leader 
    Gresham Smith

We look forward to seeing you there! 

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