Park Planning: A dream come true

I have dreamed of doing park planning work for years. I have wanted to be in a role just like the one that I am in. I was extremely excited when I learned I would be working at a park as a trails planner, but I knew little about what it actually meant to do planning for a park. I originally became interested in park planning when I was a volunteer for local habitat restoration in my home city of Los Angeles, California. 

Battle Road Trail boardwalk segment Battle Road Trail boardwalk segment

As I dug into the roots and soil of our city, I learned about the nationwide movement to address the problem of green and open space justice and accessibility. My personal drive and love for parks and trails and identity as a bi-racial, Mexican-American led me to pursue a Master’s in urban planning with a focus on equitable recreation, public space, and park planning. I was thrilled to learn I would be working at Minute Man National Historical Park through the Latino Heritage Internship Program helping address the goals of the park through planning mechanisms. 

Me in my LHIP rain gear Me in my LHIP rain gear

Now that I am in the role, I have gained valuable insight into a critical piece of park planning, which is trail maintenance. As a trail enthusiast, I had a very limited grasp on what creating and maintaining a trail entailed. Here are Minute Man National Historical Park, we have two main trails that span the journey of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The North Bridge trail is about half a mile long connecting the North Bridge Visitor Center to the Robbins House. The Battle Road Trail is five miles long and spans from Meriam’s Corner in Concord to the eastern boundary of the park in Lexington. Both trail segments experience challenges and damage that are critical to address in order to preserve the historical character of the park, protect natural resources, and provide a safe and accessible experience to the public. The National Park Service mission is to preserve the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of the current and future generations. Caring and maintaining the trails contribute to this mission. 

As a Trails Planning and GIS Assistant Intern for the park, I am responsible for creating a training tool that will assist with preparing future volunteer groups and staff for upkeeping the trail and addressing regular maintenance challenges. The end goal is to create an ArcGIS StoryMap that makes training accessible and digestible through providing interactive content, such as maps, videos, and pictures. We learn in our planning master’s the imperative need to interact with people from all roles and departments of an institution and those that interact with the institution from the outside as well.

View of the Concord River from North Bridge Trail View of the Concord River from North Bridge Trail

 I have been learning about all aspects of the park to the best of my ability in order to create a tool that will be useful, meaningful, and relevant. Park and recreation justice and equitability is multi-faceted and learning about the ongoing work that is required to provide the public with a space to recreate, learn, journey, commune, and reflect is critical for my aspirations and learning process. It is a privilege to get to be in this role and to work with the amazing team at the park.

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