Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Hockanum park committee looking for volunteers to adopt a trail

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
August 30, 2005

VERNON — Members of the Hockanum River Linear Park Committee are looking for some businesses and residents to adopt local hiking trails.

Using the national "Adopt-a-Highway" program as a guide, committee members are hoping that the community will take a greater interest in maintaining and expanding the town's 30 miles of trails.

The idea of starting an "Adopt-a-Trail" program was suggested to the committee by the Parks and Recreation Department, Don Bellingham, a committee member who is heading up the program, said.

Although the town owns the trail network, officials said it's often difficult to balance maintenance needs on the trails against needs in the town's other park facilities.

"What we really need is the businesses to stand up and help fund the trail maintenance and expansion," Bellingham said. "We thought it would be a good idea to get the community involved. We can do a better job with more people."

Bellingham said the committee is looking for businesses to donate $200 annually in cash or in-kind materials like lumber or other building materials that can be used to improve trail access and use.

Officials hope to divide the trail network into 18 different segments, which will be available for adoption.

All donations would be tax deductible, Bellingham said.

And while businesses would be asked to help supply materials for maintaining the trails, Bellingham said, residents would be called upon to do the actual work.

In adopting a trail segment, residents have the opportunity to choose between three separate roles:

The trail manager will be responsible for being aware of needed maintenance and overseeing various improvement projects.

A Vernon Greenway volunteer will be part of the workforce that helps out with the various projects.

And the trail monitor would be in charge of identifying and reporting problem areas to officials, Bellingham said.

Officials plan to install signs along the trails recognizing residents and businesses for their work, officials said.

Bruce Dinnie, Parks and Recreation director, said the program has the potential to be valuable to the town.

Because of limited time and budgetary resources, Dinnie said, park workers are often faced with the difficult choice of maintaining trails or ball fields.

Also, the remote location of some of the trails makes it difficult for workers to become aware of and reach problem areas.

"Their volunteers will be a valuable resource," Dinnie said. "They will be our eyes and ears out there."

In the coming days, Bellingham said, members of the committee would begin contacting local businesses to see if they are interested in participating.

"I think there's a good chance we'll have success," Bellingham said. "It's just a tweak of something that's been on the highways for years."

For more information or to participate in the program, contact Bellingham at 872-6061 or by e-mail at