NH Rail Trail Economic Impact Study Survey (Due April 15, 2020)

The State of New Hampshire owns almost 500 miles of rail trails, which are an asset to the State’s growing recreation and nature based economy.  In preparation for a State Rail Trail Plan, the NH Department of Transportation and its partners are surveying trail users to learn how rail trail use impacts our local economy. While there are no rewards for participating, please know that your input is vital to planning for the future of rail trails in New Hampshire.  The 5 minute survey is open for 1 week, until April 15th.  Click the link below to begin the survey.

4 responses to “NH Rail Trail Economic Impact Study Survey (Due April 15, 2020)

  1. I did everything except they asked the exact day on the trail. I simply don’t know.

    Barbara H. Jones “You can do very little with faith But you can do nothing without it.” Nicholas Murray Butler

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  2. Hi, forgive me if everyone else is also pointing this out, but any recent visits to our rail trails will have generated roughly $0 economic activity because so many businesses are closed or restricted. Do the survey takers know that the data will be badly flawed by the COVID-19 shutdown? This seems like the wrong time to be assessing economic impact of recreation. Trail usage is anecdotally way up, and trails are perhaps more valuable now than ever before, but we as users are not spending any money right now.

    Thanks,

    Dave

    On Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 8:26 PM The Mascoma River Greenway wrote:

    > uvlocalvores posted: ” The State of New Hampshire owns almost 500 miles of > rail trails, which are an asset to the State’s growing recreation and > nature based economy. In preparation for a State Rail Trail Plan, the NH > Department of Transportation and its partners are surveyi” >

    • Thank you David for your comments – there have been many questions asked; clearly the benefits of New Hampshire’s rail trails right now are not economic but are in the physical and mental health of those using the trails. It would appear that the survey is just a small part of a much bigger statewide plan approved in the Spring of 2019, long before we had ever heard of Covid-19. Here is some of the response from those involved in the survey:

      * This survey is just one part of an economic impact study, one of the 12 overall tasks that NHDOT was tasked with doing by SB 185 for the state plan. So this is far from the “end-all, be-all” for economic research, public input, and overall planning.
      * The short-term window was an attempt to keep the responses focused towards times when the businesses were actually open (Jan, Feb, early March), and didn’t want to let it bleed too far into our currently reality. They were able to get a lot of good information from in-person survey intercepts earlier in the winter, the online survey is basically intended to augment that data and fulfill their statutory/contractual requirement.
      * There will be additional public outreach/data collection efforts as part of the State Rail Trail Plan, including more surveys, likely this summer. So this recent survey is not the only opportunity for public input to the state. The exact nature of the data collection is TBD depending on the status of the COVID pandemic.
      * Specific to the MRG – the plan is to proceed with a local MRG survey later this spring.

      And yes, as you said, “trails are perhaps more valuable now than ever before.”

    • Hi Dave. Thank you for asking the question. It was raised in discussion and some more information was provided.

      • The State Rail Trail Plan process is proceeding under the parameters of NH SB 185, which dictates the terms for the planning process: https://legiscan.com/NH/text/SB185/2019.
      • UNH’s survey effort is part of the economic impact analysis described in Section III of the bill: “Include a statewide economic-impact analysis on the value of rail trails.” Over the winter UNH had been performing in-person surveys to understand visitor-generated spending on rail trails specifically in the winter of 2020 – until the work was suspended by COVID-related executive orders. The survey that went out this was part of an effort to button up that specific research task related to winter 2020 economic spending impacts on rail trails. In order for this research to produce meaningful results there needed to be a defined start date, which is why responses are limited to January 1st, 2020. This example from Vermont of what the final economic impact deliverable will look similar to: https://fpr.vermont.gov/sites/fpr/files/Recreation/Learn_More/Library/Final%20Report-%20Impact%20Analysis%20-%20VT%20Trails%20and%20Greenways.pdf

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