Latah Trail Planning Process

Trail Advisory Committee Formed
In 2000, Latah County received the first of three $495,000 federal grants (administered through the state of Idaho) to begin development of a trail along the old rail corridor from Moscow to Troy. With the intent of creating a trail for the entire community, the county initiated a public planning process that resulted in a trail concept plan made available in 2003. An advisory committee was formed in the fall of 2000. It was comprised of local landowners, trail users, county and city (Troy and Moscow) employees, the Latah Trail Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to developing trail opportunities in the area), and other interested citizens. The advisory committee received technical planning assistance from the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. University of Idaho students and professors also lent their assistance. 

Working Together

Completing the Moscow-Troy Latah Trail took the cooperation of many people. Latah Trail Foundation volunteers helped to gather more than 1,700 signatures on a petition supporting a bicycle/pedestrian path between Moscow and Troy. The petition was instrumental in capturing the attention of Latah County, which has since taken the lead in the progress of making the path a reality. The groundswell of local support also helped to convince the Idaho Transportation Department to get behind the project.

 Latah County, as the lead-sponsoring agency, has acquired the former railroad right-of-way between Moscow and Troy, and developed a plan to develop a 10-ft. wide path along the route. The Idaho Transportation Department has provided funds to the County dedicated to development of the Trail. In addition, the Latah Trail Foundation, Inc., a local non-profit organization, has been busy raising private funds for the Trail.

Inventory and Assessment
The trail advisory committee began the planning process by undergoing an intensive inventory of the trail corridor. Botanical and wildlife species, historical resources, scenic viewpoints, and erosion prone areas were just some of the aspects involved in the inventory. In order to incorporate the general public's views into the assessment, a county-wide survey of trail use habits, needs, and wants was distributed through the County's two major newspapers.

Open House
After the trail advisory committee had assessed and synthesized the data from the inventory, an open house was hosted in early June, 2001 at the Farmer's Market in Moscow. The general public was invited to view the results from the inventory, survey, maps of the trail corridor, and historical photographs of the railroad. The public was also encouraged to provide comments on the planning process to date, fill out a questionnaire, and vote for the logo that they thought best represented the planned trail.

Draft Trail Map

The trail advisory committee's next step was to develop a draft trail map for the proposed trail. This was done by re-examining the information gathered from the inventory and then comparing it to the public's input from the survey and open house. The trail advisory committee then hiked the rail corridor, took detailed notes, and developed a conceptual map that depicts such things as potential access points, rest stops, bathrooms, and interpretive signs. The draft trail map, proposed management guidelines, and conceptual design elements for trail enhancements was incorporated into the final concept plan. 
Getting Connected
Ever walk or bicycle on the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail?
If so, you are one of thousands of community members that use this trail for transportation, recreation or exercise. These benefits now expand to Latah County with the completion of an eleven-mile trail along the abandoned rail line corridor between Moscow and Troy. The course of the trail parallels Highway 8 to the east of Moscow, until Howell Road, where it winds north through a forested area to complete the last few miles of its journey.

The purpose of the Latah Trail project is to provide a safe, non-motorized transportation corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as a conservation and recreation corridor between Moscow and Troy. While providing a safe, alternate bicycle route between the two communities, pedestrians, joggers, roller-bladers and cross-country skiers will share the path.

The Latah Trail connects the Bill Chipman-Palouse Trail and Moscow's Paradise Path on the west and with the Troy City Park to the east. While there will be many similarities with the Chipman Trail, there are many new and unique experiences and opportunities for conservation and education with the new trail. The forested area outside of Troy provides a dramatic contrast to the rolling hills so familiar to the Palouse.

The Latah trail between Moscow and Troy connects with the Paradise Path in Moscow and the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail between Pullman and Moscow, creating a continuous 22-mile paved trail. This connection makes sense since these two trails occupy different lengths of the same abandoned rail line. The Chipman Trail enters Moscow on the west side and ends at Perimeter Drive where it meets up with Moscow's Paradise Path. 

Existing Links of Paradise Path in Moscow

The Paradise Path was built jointly by the University of Idaho and the City of Moscow. The Paradise Path provides a 2-mile east-west connection from Stateline to Carmichael Road. The path travels past the University of Idaho and continues east through Moscow until it seamlessly connects with the Latah Trail at the current Moscow city limit.The city's assistant engineer, Dave Klatt deserves a hearty thank you from all trail supporters in the area. He worked hard to hold on to the project awarded to the City by the Idaho Transportation Department. 
On a Trail to Better Health
by Nancy Chaney, RN

Why not?

Sixty percent of Americans don't exercise regularly. You know the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle: obesity, heart disease, Type II diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. Maybe you've heard that lack of exercise also contributes to some kinds of cancer, poor circulation, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and impotence. Let's not forget premature death. Why, you may wonder, would anyone NOT exercise? Or maybe you wonder how you could possibly fit it into your busy schedule.

Why the trail is a solution
A study by the Saint Louis University School of Public Health found that trails may be effective tools for promoting good health because of their acceptability and accessibility. The study noted that among rural adults in their study group, 39% with access to a pedestrian trail had used one, and 55% said they increased their walking since using trails. Those who didn't walk regularly were more likely than regular walkers to increase their exercise. When asked what aspects of the trail they liked most, 19% of the participants in the study said scenic beauty, 16% liked the convenient location, and 10% liked the walking surface best. Bicycle users will find the Latah Trail a safe and pleasant alternative to Highway 8. The nearly flat grade (less than 3%) and ADA-compliant construction will make the trail broadly accessible and inviting to users with various abilities and recreational interests.   

Getting started  
Probably the most difficult part of establishing an exercise routine is developing the mindset to make it a habit. Consider what works for you. Maybe the social pressure of knowing a friend, spouse, or canine companion is counting on your presence will keep you going. Perhaps, adopting the attitude that this is a gift to yourself will keep you inspired. Devoting personal time to reflection and contemplation while walking may renew you and reinforce the value of time well spent. Maybe you have a competitive streak, and aspire to be in the best condition possible. Many of us just want to look good and feel well. Visualize regular exercise a normal, pleasurable part of your life. Begin gradually to avoid injury and burnout. Keep a journal to monitor your progress, and to write about how you feel and what you see, as well as your performance. Most healthcare practitioners emphasize the importance of knowing your limits and having a medical evaluation before engaging in a new exercise program.
Some doctors and trainers recommend a minimum of 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise, three to five times per week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. A guideline for starting out is that you walk at a pace that permits comfortable conversation. An easy walking pace is probably about 2mph; a brisk pace is 2-2.9mph, and a very brisk walk is at least 4mph or less than 20 minutes per mile. Stand straight, to allow full lung expansion. Strike your heel first, then roll forward over the ball of your foot, and finally push off with your toes. Keep your shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands relaxed. Enjoy yourself!   

Mental health benefits 

Exercise stimulates chemicals in the body that contribute to a sense of wellbeing. Even as levels of endorphins diminish in the hours following exercise, feelings of improved self-image persist. Blood vessels dilate more efficiently, improving blood flow and oxygenation of the muscles and the brain. Exposure to bright natural light reduces symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In hospitalized patients, viewing outdoor scenes speeds healing and reduces pain medication requirements. Community gathering places such as trails prompt social interaction and lessen feelings of loneliness. Trails contribute to the sense of place, inspiring community spirit and belonging. Many believe that engaging in outdoor activities as a family strengthens those ties. 
A few statistics 
More than ten million Americans at high risk for developing Type II diabetes could cut their risk in half by walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week. NIH study participants over age 60 reduced that risk by 71%. (About 9.5% of Latah County residents are over age 65.) A nine-year study of 600 men found that a daily two-mile brisk walk (about half an hour) reduced their risk for impotence by improving blood flow. A study of 72,488 female nurses found that those who walked briskly at least three hours each week or exercised vigorously for 1.5 hours per week were 30-40% less likely to have heart attacks than sedentary women.   

Need additional inspiration?

Palouse Road Runners is a friendly assemblage of walkers, runners, and enthusiastic supporters who organize area fun runs, promote wellness and camaraderie, and welcome newcomers of all abilities. Contact club president Alan Place at 882-4516 or york@moscow.com


Socializing Your Dog to the Trail 
by Gary Bryan, DVM
Community trails systems offer a wonderful opportunity for people-pet interaction. Sedentary households make for sedentary pets, and obesity and its complications are as much a problem for dogs as for their human companions. If you are considering taking your pet for walks or runs along the trail, there are a few points to consider.
First, don't expect a previously sedentary animal to become a jock overnight. Just like people, they have to work up to it gradually. Set reasonable distance and time limits, say one-half to one mile and half an hour or so the first time out. If your fuzzy couch potato balks sooner, quit then. (Keep in mind that dogs like frequent stops anyway, not particularly for rest, but to investigate smells.) Remember, this is supposed to be enjoyable for both of you!  

Be aware of comfort and safety issues. If temperatures are in the 80's or above or you are planning to be out for more than an hour, carry water- and a container for drinking it- for both you and your dog. Never leave an animal in a closed vehicle parked at a trailhead, even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside can reach lethal levels. During exercise, observe your pet for signs of heat intolerance: weakness, excessive panting, a dry tongue or other mucous membranes, confusion. If you notice any of these signs, provide shade and fluids to cool the animal, or in severe cases, seek the services of your veterinarian. 

Dogs are social animals- mostly! In fact, dogs are territorial pack animals, and have been known to quarrel (Read snap, growl, wrestle) over perceived intrusions on what they view as "theirs." This may be an invisible territory across the trail, a child from their household, or you. They may also be excited, distracted, or enticed by activities along the trail. For these reasons, it is important to keep your dog on a lead. My preference is to see it connected to a harness or Gentle Leader-type apparatus, to prevent the choking that can occur with collars. The lead should generally not exceed six to eight feet, so as to permit rapidly pulling your dog to a heeling position, and to prevent entanglement with other trail users. Yield to bicyclists, runners, and skaters for their safety and for your pet's. 
Since dogs can transmit infectious diseases to other dogs, just as humans spread flu viruses among other humans, it is important pet immunizations are up-to-date. Check with your veterinarian for his or her specific recommendations for your pet. 

Pet owners should know the "scoop." When numbers of people and dogs mingle in public spaces, such as on the trail, the pet owner should clean up any feces Fido deposits en route. This is pretty simple, really, involving nothing more than carrying a plastic bag. Many trails now provide pooper-scooper bag dispensers and waste receptacles. Trail users and private property owners along the way will appreciate your courtesy. 
Work with your dog on the basics of obedience training. "Sit," "Stay," "Down" or "Off," and "Come" are probably the biggies. Expand the repertoire if you want to wow your new friends on the trail. Finally, have fun and enjoy good health with your pet!
Notes from a Landscape Architecture Student 
by Bhronwhyn Dean 

Everyone knows what an architect does - they design buildings. But do you know what a landscape architect does? These are design professionals whose job it is to figure out where to locate things on the land - to design the outdoor spaces in which we live, work and play. The University of Idaho has a four-year professional program in landscape architecture, and last Spring Professor Toru Otawa's junior studio class did an analysis of the proposed Latah Trail in order to make suggestions to the Latah Trail Advisory Group. This was an excellent learning opportunity for the students since we would be working on a real-life project, and it was an opportunity for the Advisory Group to get some professional advice without consulting fees. In addition, since none of the students are originally from the Moscow area, we would perhaps see things with fresh eyes. Finally, since we were not acting as paid consultants, the Advisory Group had complete freedom to use our suggestions as a springboard for their own ideas or to ignore them as unfeasible without worrying that they were wasting a lot of money if they didn't take our advice! 

The Latah Trail was divided up into 15 segments of approximately equal length and each student was assigned to a segment. We had one month to analyze our segment, come up with recommendations, and write an illustrated report. The first thing we did was to go out and walk our segments to do a visual assessment (taking photos for documentation). The next step was to start doing research. We knew we needed to understand many things about the land before we could come to any conclusions. We needed to examine soil types, existing trail conditions, vegetation in the area, slope of the land, and what items of historic or cultural interest were nearby, to name a few. We assembled aerial photos of the trail, gathered US Geological Survey maps, researched the area's history, and determined soil conditions using US NRCS (National Resource Conservation Services) maps. We also had the opportunity to practice using a type of computer software called GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Professional landscape architects use GIS to take numerical data about an area and produce maps that illustrate the data graphically. Dan Miller from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service provided us with a set of digital data maps of the proposed trail and we used a GIS program called ArcView by ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) to generate 3D maps. These maps helped us to provide reasons for our recommendations which would be easy to understand and much more pleasant to read than a column of numbers! 

After we had finished collecting all the data and maps for our segments of the trail, we each wrote a short chapter detailing our conclusions and recommendations. For instance, where would be the best places to provide access to the trail? What were good spots for rest areas? We then gave a presentation to the Latah Trail Foundation at a public meeting last May. Each of us prepared a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate our work and detailed what we thought were the best uses for our section of the trail. With the assistance of Dr. Otawa and Dan Miller, all of our individual chapters were then compiled into a bound report featuring color photos and maps. (This report is available for review by anyone interested by contacting the Latah Trail Foundation.) 

The students' work on the project generated ideas which the Advisory Group could then add to their own research to make the most informed decisions possible. But this project also benefited the students in a number of ways as well. Firstly, it was exciting to apply what we have been learning in school to a real-life situation. It is easier to stay motivated in difficult classes when you can see the value of what you are struggling to learn. Secondly, the chance to present our findings in front of a public group was a great opportunity to get a little more experience at public speaking before we leave school, since landscape architects have to make verbal presentations on a regular basis. Studying the Latah Trail also gave us a much greater appreciation for the history and natural beauty of this part of the Palouse. Finally, it was gratifying to know that in some small way we were contributing to the community by using our specialized knowledge to help citizens come up with the best possible plan for the new Latah Trail. Bhronwhyn Dean, exemplary student, graduated from the University of Idaho in 2003 and is happily employed by a firm in the Portland OR area.