Challenging the Traditional Values of Our Rivers: a Case for Water Trails
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Placing value on river recreation can be difficult, and often times our rivers are valued for their “traditional” uses, such as transportation, irrigation, and water supply. However, more and more, economists are offering studies and concrete numbers of the economic benefits and local gains that can come from promoting river recreation in communities. One tool communities can use to promote recreation is a water trail, which is the river equivalent to a greenway. Water trails have been shown to be effective in bringing tourism, getting communities on their local waterways, and promoting conservation. Nontraditional economic valuations can demonstrate the benefits local communities can receive from natural attractions and amenitities. Rural communities often struggle to find ways to attract new residents and tourists. Several studies have shown that rural areas can benefit from emphasizing their natural amenities both in the tourism sector as well as increasing immigration to the area. Once the community realizes the economic benefits that the water trail is bringing to their town, the paddlers, residents and local governments will be much more likely to support the protection and conservation of the resource.