5 Great Groups Preserving Trails & Parks For Future Generations

Not only do parks and trails allow wild animals and plants to thrive, they also provide people with the opportunity to relax in nature and engage in a wide variety of activities. In no particular order, here are some organizations dedicated to preserving and protecting outdoor recreational areas.

First up, at #1, we have the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Founded in 2000, it is a nonprofit organization that promotes and cares for the 740-mile waterway, working with volunteers and land managers to ensure that it is safe and accessible for public use. The group offers various resources that aim to help others plan their route, as well as connect people to local services.

Through its Stewardship Program, interns work alongside the organization's staff and volunteers to complete various campsite, river access, and portage trail development and maintenance projects to support the corridor. Its volunteers also adopt sections of the trail, reporting damage from flooding or vandals and noting when there is a need for large-scale work projects.

Next, at #2, is the California State Parks Foundation, which works to protect the natural, cultural, and historical treasures found within the region. It is an independent group that mobilizes a network of Californians to be active champions of state parks, keeping these places healthy by removing invasive plants, maintaining hiking trails, and completing landscaping projects.

Its Pathways to Parks campaign advocates for solutions to increase equitable access to the outdoors. The organization has also lobbied the California legislature on relevant bills and budget actions, and it maintains regular communication with key policy committee members.

Taking the #3 spot is Friends of the Rouge. The organization works with various communities in and around Wayne County, Michigan, in order to develop a water trail along the Lower Rouge from Canton to the Detroit River. It also offers training on logjam opening, with the goal of establishing a team of volunteers who can help clear logjams along the trail.

Among the group's other programs is the Rouge Education Project, which gives students the opportunity to explore the Rouge River and teaches them about the importance of the watershed and how it impacts their health. Each spring, the organization also brings volunteers together to improve the river through various activities, such as trash pickup and invasive species removal.

Next up, at #4, we have Saratoga PLAN, a land trust dedicated to preserving the rural character, natural habitats, and scenic beauty of Saratoga County. It manages multiple nature preserves, as well as several trails that are free for the public to explore. Among the organization's offerings are agricultural conservation easements, which are tailored to fit the needs of the landowner.

Its Countywide Trails Committee consists of representatives from various user groups, including bicyclists and runners, who meet regularly with planners and administrators to advance the trail network proposed in the Saratoga County Green Infrastructure Plan. The group also advocates for good public land use policy and incentives for conservation.

Finally, at #5, we have the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission, which is committed to the responsible management and conservation of natural resources. It maintains various parks and sites, such as the For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum, as well as parts of the Flint River Trail system.

Among its initiatives is Keep Genesee County Beautiful, which works to encourage, educate, and engage residents in creating sustainable and clean neighborhoods throughout the region. Its Adopt a Park Program provides nonprofit organizations and other interested parties with the resources and support necessary to reclaim public spaces in the city of Flint.