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Multipurpose trails help Iowans get outdoors, stay healthy, connect communities and stimulate local economies. Iowa’s trail systems are used by nearly 2 million people each year and generate over $17.8 million in consumer spending. In recent years, water trails have also become an increasingly popular recreational activity.
Studies show that about 25% of Iowans do not engage in any physical activity outside of their regular jobs. The inactivity of Iowans also has a significant economic impact. Inactivity costs the state over $5.3 billion through lost worker productivity, increased medical costs and increased worker’s compensation. Studies also indicate that people that live near trails are 50% more likely to meet physical activity guidelines. Investing in Iowa’s trails is an investment in public health, rural revitalization and economic prosperity.
Iowa’s State Recreational Trails Program has leveraged funding from federal and private sources to construct over 1,180 miles of new trails. Even so, demand for new recreational trails, trail maintenance costs and trail connections has consistently outpaced funding. Since 2014, allocations have consistently decreased, with only $1 million allocated in the last 2 years.
INHF recommends that the State Recreational Trails program be funded at $18 million due to overwhelming requests for funding and more than $100 million in planned trail projects identified by the Iowa DOT.