The Northwest Hills Council of Governments has received the “2018 Regional Planning Award” from the CT Chapter of the American Planning Association for the creation of their interactive regional trail map. COG Executive Director Rick Lynn and representatives from the COG’s Regional Trail Map Committee accepted the award at a recent award ceremony in Middletown.
“We are very pleased with the work that the Housatonic Valley Association performed for the COG in creating the Regional Trail Map,” said Warren First Selectman Craig Nelson, who serves as chairman of the council’s Regional Trail Committee. “The purpose of the map is to enhance awareness of the public access trails in the region.”
The interactive trail map can be viewed at northwesthillscog.org.
The development of the Regional Trail Map is a recommendation in the COG’s recent Regional Transportation Plan. As stated in the plan, trails are a key “draw” of the region for tourists and residents alike. They are beneficial to the quality of life, good health, regional economic development, and community viability.
Following a competitive consultant selection process, the Cornwall-based Housatonic Valley Association was chosen to develop the Regional Trail Map.
“The hiking opportunities in the Northwest Hills really are outstanding, and while many towns and land trusts have developed trail maps, the COG’s Regional Trail Map provides the only comprehensive regional inventory,” said Stacy Deming of the Housatonic Valley Association. “The online map is a great way to find hiking trails in the region, along with key information about the trails such as the location of the trailhead, parking availability, and the trail terrain.”
According to the HVA, there are more than 540 miles of public walking trails in the Northwest Hills, with 47 miles of Appalachian Trail, 163 miles of CT Blue Blazed Hiking Trails, and a variety of land trust trails, other state trails, municipal trails, and trails on private land.
As noted in the COG’s Regional Transportation Plan, it is advantageous to enhance the awareness of the outdoor recreation opportunities in the area for residents, businesses, and visitors. Research has shown that such enhanced awareness can have significant economic benefits for local businesses and also improve the quality of life for local residents.
Assisting the COG and the HVA in the development of the Regional Trail Map were representatives from Weantinoge Land Trust, Steep Rock Association, Torrington city planners, CT Forest and Park Association, Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, CT Department of Transportation, and UConn Cooperative Extension Service.