What is a Greenway?
The term “Greenway” was first coined in the 19th century, and since then has been defined in several ways. Some people think of greenways as primarily recreational, namely trails for hiking, jogging, biking, or canoeing/kayaking (often called water trails or “blueways”). For them, greenways are places that offer opportunities to experience the outdoors. For others, the purpose of greenways is primarily for conservation of undeveloped land containing important natural resources like forests, wetlands, and stream banks, along with the plants and animals that live there. Still others see greenways in aesthetic terms, preserving the pastoral countryside setting in rural areas, protecting outstanding natural features such as cliffs, overlooks, or river ravines, or establishing green landscapes in urban areas. All three of these ideas are embraced by the following all-encompassing definition, which is adapted from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Greenways Plan: Pennsylvania Greenways – An Action Plan for Creating Connections:
- A greenway is a corridor of open space, varying greatly in scale, and incorporating or linking diverse natural, cultural, and scenic resources. Some greenways are recreational corridors or scenic byways accommodating pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle traffic on both land and water; while others function almost exclusively for environmental protection and are not designed for human passage.
The movement to establish greenways was given a significant boost in 1987 when the President’s Commission on American Outdoors recommended that an interconnected greenways network be established throughout the nation. Many states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, took up the task of promoting greenways. Pennsylvania’s Greenways – An Action Plan for Creating Connections was published in 2001. This report established a strategy for creating a comprehensive, statewide greenway network by the year 2020. The Governor appointed the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to oversee the Commonwealth’s greenways program. DCNR partners with County and municipal officials to support greenways planning and implementation through education, technical assistance, and grant-making programs.
Why have a Greenways Plan for Lawrence County?
Wherever greenways are developed, they provide numerous and diverse benefits to local municipalities and their residents. This section of the plan focuses on those benefits that are especially applicable to greenways development in Lawrence County. Such benefits include:
- Economic Benefits
- Increase value of adjacent properties
- Foster new and expanded business opportunities related to greenway use
- Increase tourism expenditures on dining, lodging, and other services
- Recreation Benefits
- Provide public opportunities to walk, jog, hike, bike, ride horses, canoe or kayak, picnic, fish, hunt, observe wildlife, or pursue other outdoor activities
- Provides connections between parks, existing trails, and other recreation resources
- Social Benefits
- Promote awareness of historical and cultural features
- Increase awareness of natural resources
- Improve general health and wellness
- Transportation Benefits
- Provide safe alternative transportation opportunities for pedestrians and bicyclists
- Reduce roadway congestion through redistribution of would-be motorists to alternative transportation routes
- Ecological Benefits
- Protect wildlife habitat
- Absorb and filter flood waters
- Protect air and water quality
- Environmental Education Benefits
- Fosters an awareness of and appreciation for the surrounding environment
- Explains environmental issues and best management practices to the public
The Lawrence County Department of Planning and Community Development is currently updating the County Greenways Plan, which is to be completed in 2016. The 2008 Lawrence County Greenways Plan can be viewed below, as well as the progress for the 2016 Plan: