St. Clair County has a rare opportunity to substantially advance its trail network due to a confluence of events that will likely result in both an infusion of funding and an increased focus on development from regional and statewide trail organizations. To best position the region for success, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, with funding support provided by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJRF), commissioned PSC to evaluate the user patterns and economic significance of trail systems in similar communities and assist local partners to evaluate the potential value of further developing its own trail system.

PSC reviewed practices utilized in six best-in-class trail communities with characteristics similar to St. Clair County to provide a well-balanced view of community practices for developing a community trail system. PSC focused its research to understand who uses trail systems in each region and how the systems impact the local economy. Based on desktop research and telephone interviews, PSC identified leading practices and lessons learned by these communities to develop best-in-class trail systems.

Upon completion of the research, PSC organized a peer learning tour for community leaders in St. Clair County to tour the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails, Inc. network—one of the best-in-class communities selected for analysis. PSC also provided support by developing a press release and educational materials that summarize the results of the research.