New Ways to Move:
The Paths to Thriving Communities
The outdoors seem especially great here in Wyoming, where the mountains are tall and the rivers are wild. But even with all this wide open space, communities and individuals still need ways to access it – ways to get outdoors. Through public land spaces and non-motorized travel infrastructure, Wyomingites can find new ways to move and grow into healthier communities.
“Public lands provide opportunities for recreational activities, promoting physical and mental well-being,” explains Grace Templeton, who is in charge of community engagement at Wyoming Pathways, an organization dedicated to building, advocating for, and connecting people with people-powered movement and transportation.
“They hold cultural and historical significance, fostering a sense of identity and connection for local communities. Public lands serve as educational resources, helping people learn about nature and environmental conservation. Moreover, access to public lands supports local economies through tourism and outdoor industries. By connecting with nature in these shared spaces, communities can strengthen social bonds and develop a greater appreciation for the environment.”
Sarah Brown Mathews, Pilot Hill Inc Executive Director, expounds on this, “Open spaces draw people outside and foster social interactions. Providing shared spaces gives communities a place for people to meet and interact with each other and with nature, nurturing a sense of belonging and developing community ties and a sense of identity. The result is a reduction in overall health care expenses, and an increase in community engagement and pride in the community as a whole.” The Pilot Hill Project helps advocate for and maintain 9 square miles of open land space connecting Laramie neighborhoods with the National Forest.
“Trails and other infrastructure in open spaces invite greater use and instill confidence for users of all ages and abilities,” says Mathews. “It also protects the landscape by focusing travel patterns in areas that can absorb the impact of use without degradation. These crucial investments can improve the real and perceived image of the place and the greater community, and ensure a safe and positive experience for all user groups.”
“These public spaces, one of Wyoming’s greatest resources, provide the tools we need for healthy, thriving communities,” says Molly Hughes, Executive Director of the Hughes Charitable Foundation. “Greater access to the outdoors provides greater knowledge and connection to it, elevating our respect for the outdoors, and our preservation of it.”
Connect with open spaces and people-powered travel infrastructure, and find new ways to move through and experience your community. These pathways really do lead to thriving communities.