Why Unpaved Trails Are Needed
Unpaved vs. Paved
By now most of us are familiar with the health benefits associated with spending time in nature. In fact these health benefits are routinely used by municipal and state agencies as part of the reason for purchasing new conservation land and building new trails. What isn't commonly spoken about however, is that some types of natural spaces offer greater health benefits than others.
Studies have shown that unpaved natural spaces provide greater stress relief when compared to semi-build or paved spaces. So spending time on conservation properties or State Parks on an unpaved trail, will likely feel more relaxing than being in a city park or on a bike trail. A link to one such study can be found at the bottom of this page.
Of the various recreation trail types possible- accessible or inaccessible, paved or unpaved, we have the fewer unpaved accessible trails than any other type. People with limited mobility want the same types of recreation opportunities and outdoor experiences that able-bodied people do, the infrastructure just isn't there to meet the need.
People Who Need Access To Nature The Most Are Being Left Out
Unfortunately not everyone can access the majority of State Park trails and municipal conservation properties because there are few universally accessible unpaved trails. When compared to the general population, studies show that people who have limited mobility experience greater stress and more stress-inducing experiences than those without mobility limitations. People with limited mobility also have significantly higher instances of stress-related illnesses. So unfortunately, the people who likely need access to natural spaces the most are being excluded. A link to a medical study discussing stress and limited mobility can be found at the bottom of this page.
Environmental Justice And Equal Access
Since spending time in natural space is vital to our health and well-being, access to public land for everyone is not only an equality issue, it's an environmental justice issue. State Parks and conservation sites are public lands, at least some of the trails on them should be universally accessible and open to everyone.
Please join us to help bring more unpaved universally accessible trails to Massachusetts!
4 Ways You Can Help:
2. Get Emails To Stay Informed About Progress. Sign up for email updates here.
3. Contact City Government and tell them you support adding universally accessible unpaved trails -
Here's a link to contact Northampton's City Councilors. Once at the city's website click the "contact" tab.