Water Trails

 

Access and Liability

Check out the following documents Liabilityfor a better understading of this complicated issue:
  • 'Understanding Private Property Issues and Working with your Community to Avoid Conflict'
    By Dan MacIntyre - Page Perry LLC, Georgia Canoeing Association.
    Presented at Georgia River Network's 'Water Trails that Work' workshop, 2012.  Dan MacIntyre also unfolded some of the mysteries of ownership and liability at the GRN Weekend for Rivers Conference in 2011.
     
  • Keith Parsons's Permitting Presentation from Weekend for Rivers can also provide information about what permits you will need to gain access.

We Need Your Help to Identify Best Bridge Candidates for Improving Recreational Access at Scheduled Construction/Maintenance Sites

In 2015, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation changing the state’s gasoline tax to increase the amount of funding available for transportation. This change increased the Georgia Department of Transportation’s budget by approximately 50%. GDOT is using this new money to pursue an expansive slate of transportation projects intended to improve mobility and repair roads and bridges across the state.

One key area of focus will be the replacement of aging bridges. According to the Federal Highway Administration, Georgia has approximately 700 structurally deficient bridges. Many of these bridges need routine maintenance, need to be replaced, or were not designed to accommodate larger vehicles like school buses and tractor trailers.  Over the next several years, GDOT will double the amount of money it spends every year maintaining, rebuilding, or replacing bridges. 

These bridge projects also provide an opportunity to rethink the public access to the waterbodies these bridges span.  Across Georgia, bridges often provide formal or informal recreational access points to rivers, lakes, and streams. In the course of these construction projects across the state, GDOT should consider whether a bridge project could also present an opportunity to improve the public’s recreational access to the water at that location.  Although adding a recreational component to these projects may add new challenges (like cost, property ownership, liability, safety, and environmental review), these are not insurmountable obstacles.

We need your help to identify the best candidates for improving recreation access at bridges and your help in supporting these changes.  Using maintenance projects as an opportunity to also improve recreational access for the surrounding community is a potential win-win. A list of bridges scheduled for improvement can be found here. If a bridge in your community is slated for improvement in the coming years and you believe that location is a strong candidate for improved recreational access, please contact Gwyneth Moody with Georgia River Network at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or Brian Gist with the Southern Environmental Law Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

 

Economic Benefits of Water Trails

Water trails provide a variety of economic benefits at the state and local level.
  • Compared to other forms of recreational amenities, water trails are inexpensive to develop due to their limited needs for land and significant infrastructure.
  • Many communities can create a water trail simply by using existing public boat ramps and by building new river access points on existing public land.
  • Water trails create significant new opportunities for local revenue generation through tourism, patronage of local businesses including retail, dining & lodging, new business development, gear and equipment sales and rentals, and development of new festivals and events related to local rivers and water trails. 
  • “Eco-tourism”, promoted by amenities such as water trails, is clean, environmentally friendly, and boosts economic development.
Measure the Economic Impact of Your Paddling Events:
 
To measure the economic impact of a paddling event, river advocates can use the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Event Impact Calculator. The tool is designed to be simple and flexible. Basic parameters of an event are translated into a full economic impact analysis, which includes:
 

■ Business sales by industry and source
■ Impacts of sales on jobs, wages, and local taxes
■ ROI of the event against hosting costs and incentives

A report is generated for the event, and users can save, recall, or aggregate events.

For more information, check out the EIC User Manual when using the Event Impact Calculator. You can also access these resources HERE.
 
 
 
Resources Highlighting the Economic Benefits of Water Trails, Paddle Sports and Outdoor Recreation:
 
Data demonstrating the economic benefits of water trails are extremely important when working to gain the support of the community and local officials. Find helpful resources below or check out the GA Water Trails homepage for quick national and statewide statistics on outdoor recreation and watersports.
 
2018
 
Budget for the Consolidated Government of Columbus, GA that includes the impact of the city's whitewater park on the Chattahoochee River.
Finance Department of Columbus, GA Consolidated Government. (2018). "Columbus, Georgia Fiscal Year 2018 Operating Budget." Web. Retrieved from https://www.columbusga.org/finance/Financial_Planning/Budget-Book-FY18.pdf
 
2017
 
Impact of National Park visitors on local economies that includes the impact of Cumberland Island National Seashore and Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
Cullinane Thomas, C. & Koontz, L. (2017). "2016 National Park Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation." Fort Collins Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey, Envrionmental Quality Division of the National Park Service. Web. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/nature/customcf/NPS_Data_Visualization/docs/2016_VSE.pdf
 
Article about 2016 National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects Report with a focus on the Chattahoochee River NRA and an interview with Bill Cox.
National Park Service. (2017). "Tourism to Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area Creates $166.6 Million In Economic Benefits." Web. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/chat/learn/news/tourism-impact-2017.htm
 
Regional and national overview of the impact of outdoor recreation on the economy, including water sports.
Outdoor Industry Association. (2017). "The Outdoor Recreation Economy." Web. Retrieved from https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/OIA_RecEconomy_FINAL_Single.pdf
 
Statewide overview of the impact of outdoor recreation on the economy, including water sports.
Outdoor Industry Association. (2017). "The Outdoor Recreation Economy - Georgia." Web. Retrieved from https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/OIA_RecEcoState_GA.pdf
 
2016
 
Outline of a framework of opportunity for the Chattahoochee River Corridor from Peachtree Creak downstream to Chattahoochee Bend State Park.
 
Report detailing the economic impact of establishing a whitewater park on the Kennebec River in Skowhegan, Maine.
O'Hara, F., Young, K., & Cannon, K. (2016). "Economic Impact of the Proposed Run of River Whitewater Park in Skowhegan, Maine." Planning Decisions, Inc., Hallowell, & Main Street Skowhegan. Web. Retrieved from http://visitskowhegan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ROR_Economic-Impact-Study_Sept.22_v2_KMC_Proofed.pdf
 
2015
 
A compilation report of a vast number of environmental studies combined into a concise interpretation of the future of Outdoor Recreation.
Lee-Ashley, M., Moser, C., & Madowitz, M. (2015). "The Government Should Begin to Measure America's Powerful Outdoor Economy." Center for American Progress. Web. Retrieved from https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/OutdoorRec-brief2.pdf
 
A detailed look at participation in kayaking, canoeing, rafting and stand-up paddling based on 2014 data collected annually by the Outdoor Foundation.
Outdoor Foundation & The Coleman Company, Inc. (2015). "2015 Special Report on Paddlesports." Web. Retrieved from https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2015-Paddlesports-Research.pdf
 
Report summarizies findings from existing studies, which provide examples of the economic impact of water trails in their respective communities, in order to provide a resource for communities considering developing a water trail.
Warren, N. (2015). "An Economic Argument for Water Trails." River Management Society. Web. Retrieved from http://www.river-management.org/assets/WaterTrails/economic%20argument%20for%20water%20trails.pdf
 
2014
 
A collection of various studies conducted over the years that vary in goal; the results of these studies are laid out in easy to read charts.
American Whitewater. (2014). "The Economic Impacts of River Recreation." Web. Retrieved from http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/stewardship:recreation_economics:recreation_economics
 
Presentation of the plan for the Chattahoochee Valley Blueway given by Debra Edelson at the Water Economics Conference at Troy University Sept. 23, 2014. Good overview for a community interested in what the process looks like for developing a water trail.
Edelson, D. A. (2014). "Chattahoochee Valley Blueway." PowerPoint. The Trust for Public Land. Web. Retrieved from https://www.troy.edu/phenixcity/assets/documents/cwre/2014-presentations/Edelson-Debra.pdf
 
Report of outdoor recreation participation based on an online survey of more than 40,000 Americans ages 6 and older and covers 114 different outdoor activities.
Outdoor Foundation. (2014). "Outdoor Participation Report 2014." Web. Retrieved from https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2014-OutdoorRecreationParticipationReport1.pdf
 
2012
 
A compilation of fishing and hunting data collected by the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation.
Congressional Sportsmen Foundation. (2012). "America's Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy." Web. Retrieved from http://congressionalsportsmen.org/uploads/page/EIR%20final%20low-res.pdf
 
A study on the economic impact of 4 water trails located in the same region of Pennsylvania.
ICF Macro, Inc. (2012). "2012 Pennsylvania Recreational Water Trails Economic Impact Study: A Four-Trail Case Study." Web. Retrieved from http://pecpa.org/wp-content/uploads/Water-Trails-Economic-Impact-Study.pdf
 
Regional and national overview of the impact of outdoor recreation on the economy, including water sports.
Outdoor Industry Association. (2012). "The Outdoor Recreation Economy." Web. Retrieved from https://outdoorindustry.org/pdf/OIA_OutdoorRecEconomyReport2012.pdf
 
An economic impact estimation of the Chattahoochee Valley Blueway.
Blair, B. F. (2012). "The Economic Impact of the Proposed Chattahoochee Valley Blueway Project." For the Trust for Public Land by the Butler Center for Business and Economic Research, Turner College of Business, Columbus State University. Web. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/WaterTrails/Toolbox/DownloadFile/190
 
2011
 
A summarization and collection of various water economic studies
Edmonds, K. (2011). "Economic Benefits of Water Trails." Georgia River Network.
 
A follow-up study on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, this study examined very narrow and specific stretches of the trail to monitor their impact on the area.
Pollock, N., Backler, P., Williams, K., & Mack, K. (2011). "Northern Forest Canoe Trail: Trails and Economic Development Report." Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Web. Retrieved from http://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/media/NFCT_Trail_and_Economic_Development_Report_Final_For_Web.pdf
 
A study to determine the economic impact of the Savannah River, in a 5 county wide section, during the 2010 fiscal year.
Noah, J. C., Porca, S., Grewal, H. S., Edington, K., Medcalfe, S., & Millies, M. C. (2011). "The Economic Impact of the Savannah River Site on Five Adjacent Counties in South Carolina and Georgia." The O'Connell Center at the University of South Carolina - Aiken. Web. Retrieved from http://www.srscro.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/SRS-Economic-Impact-Study-Tech-Report-5-2011-2.pdf
 
Comprehensive profile of Iowa's outdoor recreational resources, the current levels of participation, and the economic impact associated with those outdoor recreation activities.
Otto, D.,Tylka, K., & Erickson, S. (2011). "Economic Value of Outdoor Recreation Activities in Iowa." Department of Economics, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Center for Agriculatural and Rural Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa State University. Commissioned by the Nature Conservancy with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Web. Retrieved from https://www.card.iastate.edu/research/resource-and-environmental/items/DNR-AmenityRevised_9-25-12.pdf
 
2010
 
Guide for professionals to do economic impact studies that measure the economic return residents receive on park and recreation department investments.
Crompton, J. L. (2010). "Measuring the Economic Impact of Park and Recreation Services." National Recreation and Park Association. Web. Retrieved from https://www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/nrpa.org/Publications_and_Research/Research/Papers/Crompton-Research-Paper.pdf
 
2009
 
An examination of paddling trends by participation from 2006-2008; this includes regional, economic, age, ethnicity, and education trends.
Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Foundation. (2009). "A Special Report on Paddle Sports."
 
2008
 
The results and implications of an economic questionnaire presented to North Carolina paddlers.
Beedle, J. (2008). "2008 Paddle Tourism Study." North Carolina State Trails Program. Web. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/WaterTrails/Toolbox/DownloadFile/129
 
 
 

1. The Outdoor Industry Association. (2017). “The Outdoor Recreation Economy.” pg1; pg 18.https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/OIA_RecEconomy_FINAL_Single.pdf 

2. The Outdoor Industry Association. (2012). “The Outdoor Recreation Economy Report.”pg 1; pg 17. https://outdoorindustry.org/pdf/OIA_OutdoorRecEconomyReport2012.pdf 

3. Discover Georgia Outdoors - Tourism Impact Brochure. Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

4. Outdoor Industry Association. (2002). “Outdoor Recreation Participation & Spending Study: A State-by-State Perspective.” pg. 14. https://www.outdoorindustry.org

5. Outdoor Foundation, “Special Report on Fishing and Boating.” (2012). pg 44. https://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/ResearchFishing2012.pdf

6. The Outdoor Industry Association. (2017). "The Outdoor Recreation Economy - Georgia." https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/OIA_RecEcoState_GA.pdf 

Partnerships and Stakeholders 

An excellent way to expand your network and resources is to build strong partnerships. Working with partners and stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds can help pool resources.  Most successful water trails were completed thanks to a strong partnership. 

  • Land management agenciesGA Water Trails Logo

  • Private property owners

  • Local businesses

  • Outfitters and Guides

  • Watershed Organizations

  • Local economic development and tourism representatives

  • Paddling Clubs

  • Emergency Management Agencies

  • Government regulatory agencies: Create a Resolution of County or City Support for your Water Trail. Check out the signed Resolutions below and use this template to create your own.

Health Benefits of Water Trails

Water trails provide a variety of health benefits for local communities.
  • Because water trails and water walkways encourage greater physical activity, they have been associated with decreased health care costs and rates of obesity.
  • Other specific health benefits from paddling sports include improved cardiovascular fitness and increased muscle strength. Paddling sports provide low impact resistance that is beneficial for muscles yet easy on joints and bones. 
  • The surgeon general has recognized non-motorized boating as an acceptable excercise to replace more traditional methods, such as running.
  • Studies have shown that increased exposure to natural environments is linked to improved mental health and can combat many conditions, such as stress, anxiety, depression etc. Additionally, the communal nature of recreational paddling improves interpersonal relationships and community bonding.
 
Resources Highlighting the Health Benefits of Water Trails, Paddle Sports and Outdoor Recreation:
 
Data demonstrating the health benefits of water trails are extremely important when working to gain the support of the community and local officials. Find helpful resources below or check out the GA Water Trails homepage for quick national and statewide statistics on outdoor recreation and watersports.
 
  Health
 1. Jackson, R.J., Watson, T., Tsui, A., Shulaker, B., Hopp, S., and Popovic, M. (2014). "Urban River Parkways: An Essential Tool for Public Health."  Center for Occupation and Environmental Health UCLA. http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Urban-River-Parkways-Full-Report_1.pdf>. 
 
2. "Health Benefits of Non-Motorized Boating." (2008). California Department of Boating and Waterways. https://dbw.parks.ca.gov/pages/28702/files/nm_sec_8-health_benefits.pdf 
 
3. "Paddle Power: Groundbreaking Canoe Project to Boost Youngsters' Health and Jobs Prospects." (2015). Northern and Shell Media Publications. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/555947/Canoe-trail-will-help-disadvantage-youngsters-improve-their-health>. 
 
4. Gascon, M., Zijlema, W., Vert, C., White, M. P., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2017). "Outdoor blue spaces, human health and well-being: A systematic review of quantitative studies." International Journal Of Hygiene And Environmental Health, 220(8), 1207–1221. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28843736 

Resolutions of Support

Create a Resolution of County or City Support for your Water Trail.
Check out the signed Resolutions below and use this template to create your own.
 
Signed Resolutions of Support in Georgia
 

         

Alapaha River Water Trail
Broad River Water Trail
Etowah River Water Trail
Flint River Water Trail
(Whitwater Creek Paddling Trail)
 
Ochlockonee River Water Trail
Ocmulgee River Water Trail
          Withlacoochee River Water Trail