Steps to Build a Blue Trail: Plan

Analyze Input and Information

Green River by Mike FiebigNow that you have engaged your community and collected a considerable amount of input and information, it’s time to organize and analyze your findings to determine the viability of your proposed Blue Trail. Conducting a well-researched feasibility study will help to answer the essential question of whether you should proceed. It can also help attract funding and other support.

The elements that should be included in a feasibility study will depend on the size and scope of your Blue Trail, but the following key components should be considered.

Introduction and background: How did the project come about? What are the physical specifications of the Blue Trail? Is there a need and desire for the Blue Trail?

Community input and support: Can you demonstrate that the project has support from the local community including but not limited to local governments, civic leaders, planners, service organizations, recreation and conservation groups, businesses, schools, and other entities? What methods have you used to gain knowledge of that support?

Management and maintenance planning: How will use and maintenance issues be addressed? How will public access and operation be ensured in the long term? Is there land nearby that is managed by local, state, federal, and/or conservation agencies? Has the project been identified as a priority in any local, state, or regional recreational or conservation plans? Has the local government authority, planner, or land manager given their endorsement of the project? How will they be involved in the planning, managing, and maintenance of the Blue Trail? Who will undertake and pay for ongoing operation and maintenance costs?

Safety: What level of ability is recommended for the Blue Trail? Are certain types of boats discouraged because of safety concerns? What are the hazards? How will the Blue Trail be promoted to the proper user group? What options are available for search and rescue? Has local law enforcement been included in your plan? Do cell phones work in the area in case of an emergency?

Connections: Will the Blue Trail utilize existing parks, federal and state boating launches, private marinas, campgrounds, and land owned by non-profit organizations? How will it provide linkages between towns or community facilities, other trails, and natural, cultural, historical, and recreation areas? These connections will greatly enhance your Blue Trail.

Access and sharing opportunities: Will the project accommodate a range of users (e.g. paddlers, anglers, walkers, bikers, etc.)? How will different users share the Blue Trail? What is the existing level and type of use? Are there sufficient access points for different types of users?

Conservation: What are the existing environmental conditions? What are the biggest threats facing the water body (e.g. pollution, low flows, sprawls, etc.)? How will the Blue Trail improve the health of the environment and community? What are the short and long term protection and restoration goals for the river? Who is currently working to protect and restore the river? How are they involved in the development of the Blue Trail? To learn more about conserving your river see Plan a Blue Trail: Plan for Conservation.

Political realities: What is the political environment? Is there political support at the local, state, or regional level? Are there key constituencies likely to oppose the project?

Cost and funding: What is the expected cost of the Blue Trail? Has the local government or other entities promised to provide funding? What other potential funding sources exist?

Conclusion: Why should the project proceed? What are the strengths and weaknesses? What is required for the project to proceed?