Problem Solver - August 2008
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Sprucing Up Your Trails

Whether it's a short walking trail through a local park, a 40-mile bike trail, a nature trail in a forest preserve, or a path through the waterpark, furnishing and sprucing up your trail can be a difficult task sometimes. Funds may not be there to purchase new amenities, and finding the right elements for your trail may not be so easy. However, simple steps can be taken to dress up your trail and keep it clean.

Q: What are the best furnishings that will work well visually for my trail?

A: While benches are important to outfitting a trail, their placement can be just as important. Placing benches near planters, foliage or a scenic spot can make for a pleasing resting point for trail users.

Just as importantly, putting benches in a visually open space can offer a sense of security, while deterring vandals and loitering. Also, using weather-resistant furnishings that blend in with the background using earthy tones can keep your trail interesting and clean-looking. Furnishings made of recycled materials are an excellent option as they are environmentally friendly, vandalism-resistant and require little maintenance.

Make sure your purchases comply with codes like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and will hold up to all types of weather elements.

Q: What types of receptacles should I use to encourage people to keep my trail clean?

A: While enjoying nature, people don't necessarily want to think about trash. But if providing receptacles for trash isn't a priority, then patrons will surely notice.

Using trash cans with muted tones can help them blend in with surroundings, and as with any trail, making them animal proof is a good idea.

Making sure that trash cans are not placed too close, but are still close enough to picnic areas is also important. Trash cans could be a breeding ground for bees and other insects, which can make for a bad experience for patrons. A good rule of thumb is to place the cans at least 10 to 25 feet away from seating areas.

Q: What if I need to add a boardwalk over an environmentally sensitive area? Is there an option other than wood?

A: Check out recycled plastic lumber, which can be used for a wide range of applications, including boardwalks, fencing and other landscaping projects. The lumber looks like wood, but never needs painting, and the surface makes it simple to remove graffiti with a commercial solvent. Recycled plastic lumber can be cut, drilled and nailed with regular woodworking tools, and unlike treated lumber, it doesn't leach out pollutants. That means your environmentally sensitive area will be safe.

Q: Finding funding for new furnishings can be expensive. What is an easy option to raise money for updating my trail?

A: Furnishing any kind of site can be an expensive venture. However, simple upgrades to your furnishings can help pay for themselves. Using benches as a memorial can help bring in revenue and boost community ownership of local parks.

Setting up at festivals and fairs can help increase exposure to your idea. Use pamphlets, flyers and the local media to get exposure. You also can target civic groups, assisted living centers and funeral homes as another way to find donations.

Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls Inc.: