TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTH) - With COVID-19 keeping everyone inside, a lot of people have turned to being outdoors throughout the summer. If this is you, you may be happy to hear that Wabash Valley leaders are in the process of bringing a regional trails system to our area.
Executive director of the West Central Indiana Economic Development District Ryan Keller is leading the charge. He says regions all across Indiana have regional trail systems like they are trying to bring here.
He says the rural Wabash Valley is a perfect spot to bring fun and interactive trails to. When the WCIEDD did some research studying trails done in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, they discovered property values increased along trails, community engagement was improved, and businesses along trails experienced an uptick in traffic.
Keller says he and his organization really want to make this trail system great and even possibly have it connect throughout their six-county region. While each county’s trails will have their own local flavor, he says they want their branding to be cohesive throughout the region.
“We want to have a common theme,” Keller explained, “Those colors, patterns, that signage, and how we display and represent our brand—It starts to tell that story that you’re in the west central Indiana trail system.”
Keller did say that they are in the beginning stages of this process, but he has two goals to complete by the end of the year.
First, Keller says he wants to make sure the maps of these trails are integrated into Google maps. They are even thinking of creating an app with an interactive map that goes along with these trails. He says they are investigating what businesses would be trail-friendly. He explained that this would be a huge boost to local businesses all across the Wabash Valley.
Second, they are beginning to put the structure in place to found a Regional Trails group. This would be a group of people that would solely focus on advocacy, fundraising, marketing, and branding of the trails.
One local resident agreed that this would be a huge plus for the Wabash Valley community.
“Personally I love trails. I think they’re a great way to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. I think that if they were able to bring these trails to the Wabash Valley, It would be a great thing for the community,” Wabash Valley resident Michael Vincent said.
“This is a whole community effort, and there’s really room for everyone to participate and help,” Keller concluded.
Keller says their next move to have trail counters go out and track trail usage around the area. He’s excited to take input from community members, local government officials, and private business owners to make sure this regional trail system benefits everyone involved in their six-county region.