Trails for People and Wildlife

About this project

This project developed a statewide tool that can be used to assess existing trails and site new trails in a wildlife-friendly way. Using the most relevant scientific research for New Hampshire, the Great Bay Reserve worked with a team to create a map and guide to highlight areas that, if avoided, would help to minimize trail disturbance to wildlife. This tool works based on the following principles: 1) Keep unfragmented trail-free areas as large as possible; 2) Avoid small patches of high quality or special habitats; 3) Avoid riparian areas, permanent features in the landscape that serve as important wildlife corridors; 4) Avoid locations of rare wildlife. 

How this project is helping

The map was created due to the high demand for trails in the coastal region, but the model was developed for the entire state. It highlights areas that are particularly important for wildlife and areas that would be more suitable for trail development. Accompanying documents explain how to use the tool, and provide some real-world examples of how conservation organizations have used it to make their trail planning efforts most effective. It is already being used to inform trail development and closure by local land trusts, communities, and state agencies.



Rachel Stevens, Stewardship Coordinator
Great Bay National Estuarine Research