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Sustainable Trails Development

The Sustainable Trails curriculum welcomes students from various fields who are interested in trails development, programming and management, as well as design.

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Program Overview

The demand for sustainable trails has increased in recent decades, and outdoor recreation can be a major economic driver for communities. Knowledge of sustainable trails has also increased in recent decades. While there are professional organizations offering short trainings, this curriculum is both more in-depth and more accessible.

The graduate certificate program in Sustainable Trails Development provides a great synergy with local trail development and programming efforts, including WVU’s 2020 International Mountain Bicycling Association Trail Accelerator Grant. The Mon River Trails were inducted to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2020, Blue Ridge Outdoors proclaimed WVU the best large college for outdoor adventure in the southeast and Mid-Atlantic, and Morgantown was selected in 2021 as the pilot city for the Youth Cycling Coalition.    

The curriculum covers:

Advocacy: benefits of trails, funding sources, fund-raising, planning for skills progression and shared-use

Design/build: site-responsive design, sustainability, construction materials/costs

Post-build: volunteer/ community engagement, interpretation, and ongoing assessment/maintenance

The extra flexibility of a graduate certificate program allows students to complete the program either on its own, or with a traditional graduate degree. Let WVU open doors to a better path forward.

total credit hours

18

estimated time to complete

3 semesters part-time (at 6 credits)

6 semesters part-time (at 3 credits)

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program details

Degree level

Graduate Certificate

Degree awarded

Sustainable Trails Development

Admissions

Program Requirements

Applicants should have introductory level knowledge of computer science and use. No specific course or level of experience is required; however, the expectation is a level of competence with computer use and experience with applications involving word processing, spreadsheets, etc. 

Visit the Graduate Admissions page.

Curriculum

Course of Study

Required courses
Credit Hours
LARC 532: Recreation, Trials, and Community Development 3
RESM 440: Foundations of Applied GIS

   OR RESM 443: Intro to GIS for Trail Planners
3

2
LARC 534: Sustainable Trails: Design Concepts 3
LARC 535: Sustainable Trails: Design Detailing 3
RPTR 536: Sustainable Trails: Activation/Engagement 3
LARC 537: Sustainable Trails Practicum Experience 3

LARC 532: Recreation, Trails, and Community Development. 3 Credits.  Using outdoor recreation as a facilitator of community development, this course will provide a preview of comprehensive trail planning strategies guiding sustainable trail development, including the benefits of trails (economic, health, and social), strategies for stakeholder engagement, funding, activation and programming, and evaluation. Online, 3-credit graduate course, cross listed with LARC 332 (for undergraduate students).


RESM 440: Foundations of Applied GIS. 3 Credits.
  The goal of this course is to introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and build foundations in its use to allow students to solve spatial problems.  Specifically, the course will teach students necessary spatial and quantitative analysis methods to solve problems in many interdisciplinary applications.  The course will focus on the elements and capabilities of a GIS by emphasizing acquisition, management, manipulation, and analysis of data for the solution of spatial problems.  This course is designed to build students’ confidence and familiarity with GIS technology through the use of timely and appropriate local applications and datasets for West Virginia and beyond class. Offered summer (10 weeks, online), fall (16 weeks, online) or spring (in-person, 16 weeks).

 
RESM 443: Intro GIS for Trail Planners. 2 Credits.
  Introduce technical skills to support site analysis and mapping geographic constraints for trail planning, focusing on technological tools available to new GIS users. The goal of this course is to introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and build foundations in its use to allow students to solve spatial problems. Specifically, the course will teach students necessary spatial and quantitative analysis methods to solve problems that relate to trail design. The course will focus on the elements and capabilities of a GIS by emphasizing acquisition, management, manipulation, and analysis of data for the solution of spatial problems. This course is designed to build students’ confidence and familiarity with GIS technology through the use of timely and appropriate local applications and datasets for West Virginia and beyond. This is an 8-week, online asynchronous course for two academic credits.

 

LARC 534: Sustainable Trails: Design Concepts. 3 Credits.  Plan trail networks according to current best practices, responding to site topography and aesthetics while incorporating skills progression and accessibility for trail users of all skill levels. Online, 3-credit graduate course, cross listed with LARC 334 (for undergraduate students).


LARC 535: Sustainable Trails: Design Detailing & Drainage. 3 Credits.
  Refine trail masterplans for costing, bidding and construction documentation with site-specific detailing and specifications, while incorporating stormwater management best practices and ecological restoration principles. Online, 3-credit graduate course, cross listed with LARC 335 (for undergraduate student).


RPTR 536: Sustainable Trails: Engagement. 3 Credits.
  Develop management plans, incorporate interpretive signage, and activate greenspace and public trails with civic engagement while planning for post-construction maintenance. Online, 3 credit hours, cross listed with RPTR 436 (for undergraduate students).


LARC 537: Sustainable Trails: Practicum Experience. 3 Credits.
  Engage directly in a trail project’s design, construction, maintenance and/or monitoring, through a service-learning capstone project in sustainable trails development. Work with stakeholders and community representatives directly to support recreation economy development. Can be repeated for credit: students can enroll for 1, 2, or 3 credits at once. Online, graduate course, cross listed with LARC 437 (for undergraduate students). Offered in-person or online.

Program Faculty

  • Danny TwilleyAssistant Dean of Outdoor Economic Development
  • Vaike HaasAssociate Professor of Landscape Architecture
  • Dave SmaldoneAssociate Professor of Recreation, Parks & Tourism Resources
  • Chad PierskallaProfessor of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources
  • Doug ArbogastWVU Extension Specialist – Rural Tourism Development
  • Jacquelyn Strager, Assistant Director for Technical Services, NRAC
  • Supported by: Richard Edwards, Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Coordinator

Contact Information

Program Contacts


For questions about the admissions process: 

Gary Phillips
Online Admissions Coach for Davis College Online
Phone:(304) 293-0915
Email:  gphillips@mail.wvu.edu


For program-specific questions regarding curriculum content, etc.: 

Peter Butler
Director of the School of Design and Community Development
Phone: (304) 293-5462
Email: Peter.Butler@mail.wvu.edu 

Lisa Orr
Landscape Architecture Program Coordinator
Phone: (304) 293-5439
Email: Elisabeth.Orr@mail.wvu.edu 

Vaike Haas
Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture
Phone: (304) 293-5661
Email: Vaike.Haas@mail.wvu.edu 

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