Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened

Helen Armstrong

Helen Armstrong

In 2021, the Homer Trails Alliance (HTA) was organized to advocate for trails in the Homer area, particularly on the north side of Kachemak Bay stretching from Anchor Point to East End Road. The HTA’s goal is to promote, maintain and develop sustainable trails in the Homer area.

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened. Volunteers recognized it was imperative to launch a nonprofit (the HTA is a 501(c)3 organization) to champion trails and connectivity within our neighborhoods via trails — or pathways and sidewalks. Although various entities in the area manage trails, for example, the City of Homer, no single entity ties these organizations, their efforts and community trails together.

The HTA serves as an advocate for the shared efforts of existing and future trails and walkability of our residents and visitors. Our goal is to attract and engage more trail users, volunteers, landowners, governmental agencies, donors, and like-missioned entities to promote, preserve, and develop sustainable trails for everyone to use.

The HTA is identifying potential easements and prioritizing trails for maintenance. We are building a trails GIS database. We have a Facebook page: Homer Trails Alliance. We are in the beginning stages of developing a website for our community residents, volunteers and tourists to provide maps and information regarding local trails and pedestrian pathways. Access to trail information will help our community members to recreate together, to cross paths and socially connect to build more camaraderie with the shared common interest of enjoying nature together. Getting outside on our trails and pathways not only is good for our physical health, but it improves our mental health and is good for the environment!

Last week, the Homer Drawdown group selected Non-Motorized Transportation as their 2022 Drawdown Solution. Forty-seven people attended the Drawdown meeting and the majority selected the Non-Motorized Transportation solution out of the four projects presented.

Drawdown is a collaborative project between Alaskans Know Climate Change and Cook Inletkeeper. Drawdown is working on solutions to climate change with actions that can be taken today to help the world reach “drawdown” — to reduce or drawdown carbon dioxide emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change. Adele Person (who is also the President of the HTA), championed Non-Motorized Transportation as the 2022 Drawdown Solution along with Deb Lowney, Matt Steffy, and Donna Aderhold.

Adele said, “I deeply believe that we must change our transportation system, the way we move about our place, the way we build, code, develop policy to avoid catastrophic climate change, and also just to have nicer communities in which to live.”

The objectives and desired outcomes of the Non-Motorized Transportation Project include: 1) to get more people — including kids — walking and biking; 2) to develop policies and codes that support a walkable and bikeable community; and 3) to prioritize and build new sidewalks, paths, trails, etc. for a connected non-motorized transportation system. To achieve these objectives, Drawdown will promote initiatives such as Walk to School, Bike to Work, encouraging Homer Steps Up, or perhaps creating an Art Walk.

Drawdown will work with the City of Homer on an updated Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and have publicity campaigns, such as “Meet a Trail” or “Homer Shares the Road.” Drawdown projects can be created where there is community will and effort, such as increasing e-bike ridership or a park n’ ride program. The ideas are beginning to formulate and are in the beginning stages. There is much work to be done! The HTA is excited to be working with the Drawdown project this year.

The HTA needs volunteers — a few hours, maybe a Saturday to work on trails — or more hours, such as helping to create new programs.

If you would like to donate or get involved, email homertrailsalliance@gmail.com. We can also be found on Facebook at the Homer Trails Alliance. Come and join us!

Helen Armstrong is a volunteer for the Homer Trails Alliance and wants everyone to get outside and enjoy our trails!

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