COLUMBUS – The Ohio Legislative Trails Caucus (OLTC) held its inaugural meeting last week in Columbus. The first of its kind in the nation at the state level, this informal group of like-minded state legislators from both parties and both chambers of the Ohio legislature is co-chaired by state Sen. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta). It will work to advocate for all issues involving the development, maintenance, and preservation of all Ohio’s non-motorized trails.
“Whether hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, or canoeing, chances are most Ohioans have spent some time out on Ohio’s incredible trails system,” said Sen. O’Brien. “The benefits of trails to everyone in the Buckeye State are countless. With this caucus, we hope to make the trails even better than they already are and preserve them for future generations.”
Planning and recruitment for the OLTC began during the last General Assembly when then-State Rep. O’Brien was approached by members of several Ohio trails organizations – including the Buckeye Trails Association, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Ohio Horseman’s Council, and the Ohio Travel Association – about the need for a coordinated effort at the state level to develop and maintain Ohio’s trails system. Since then, Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) has signed on as caucus co-chair, along with a bipartisan group of 18 other members from both the Ohio House and Senate.
“As an avid fan of trails and enjoying time outdoors, I have seen firsthand that there is a lot of work that can be done to ensure Ohio’s trails remain among the best in the nation for years to come,” continued Sen. O’Brien. “With benefits that include greater public health, significant economic impacts, and alternative transportation options, it is vital that we do all we can on this front. The formation of this caucus is an important step in that process.”
Although still in its infancy, the inaugural meeting of the OLTC was well attended, and included legislative members, members of various trails interest groups, as well as Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks & Watercraft Chief Michael D. Bailey. Plans are well underway for next steps to be taken by the OLTC. This includes future meetings, coordination with state agencies, and the possible introduction of pro-trails legislation.