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Applying Meaningful Community Engagement to Trail Projects

Are you interested in undertaking community engagement to inform a trial project? Many organizations understand that efforts to gather feedback about conservation projects are necessary, yet community engagement for such projects is often used to affirm existing assumptions rather than an opportunity to gain new perspectives. As a result, workshops and surveys often barely scrape the surface of meaningful inclusion and engagement, resulting in feedback that is unintentionally biased and incomplete, and perpetuate the exclusion of marginalized communities in the conservation and outdoor sphere. This interactive workshop will detail the community engagement process undertaken by the Penn Trails Team for a large scale trail master plan in upstate New York, including a community engagement process designed to include input of non-traditional, or potential trail user communities. Stakeholder feedback was used to address issues of inclusion and access in the trail system and enhance community relationships. Learn about how you can design a similar process, including the values that established the project design, methods of listening more deeply, and how feedback was integrated into trail designs and the final master plan. This workshop will also explore limitations and lessons learned to allow your land trust to explore what is appropriate for you.