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Be A Good Trail Steward
The Easy Way

By Diane Spicer

ParkWatchReport is a great idea for those of us who get frustrated when we see our parks, trails and open spaces defaced, destroyed or rendered unuseable by thoughtless or criminal acts.

Here's how it works.

  • Let's say that you're on a favorite trail, or using the facilities at a local park or trailhead.
  • You spot something broken, ruined or hazardous to hikers.
  • You whip out your phone, fire up a free app, and fill out a quick and easy report form.
  • The app locates you, and sends your report to the correct local land manager.
  • You get an email, allowing you to receive notifications of resolution of the issue(s) you reported.
  • Life gets better for all of the park users!
  • And your stewardship of the land has been strengthened.

ParkWatchReport logo with friendly owl

ParkWatchReport details

For a closer look at how this innovative idea took shape and grew into an easy to use system, take it away, friends at ParkWatchReport!

"There were two severely injured women, one lost horse and one dead horse.

Two motorcyclist entered park property through a cut fence and sped off on a hiker/horse only trail where, you guessed it, they ran head on into two unsuspecting equestrians and the encounter turned deadly.

Trail conflict was thought to be the problem that had no solution until a group of park volunteers addressed the issue and found that trail conflict was not the problem.

This tragedy was the result of a disconnect in communication between trail users and park management.

Trail users knew the fence had been cut, but who should they report it to?

  • Was it the responsibility of the park, city, county, recreation district or any one of several federal agencies?
  •  No one knew, so it wasn’t reported and it wasn’t fixed, and now you know the result.

A group of eight women, mostly equestrians, pooled their money, hired a programmer, and introduced a new website called Park Watch where information related to safety, maintenance and the environment could be reported electronically and received immediately by park management.

Several CA State Parks agreed to test the new format and they liked it but the original version was limited in scope, geography and capabilities.

It was quickly realized that the idea had tremendous potential. With the right team behind it, this idea could be used nationwide and have far more functionality than just reporting.

The development rights to Park Watch were sold in 2014.

  • The software was reprogrammed,
  • a phone app was added, and
  • the new software, known as ParkWatchReport, was born.

Today (2016) ParkWatchReport offers a web based service that provides a website and a mobile app for all parks everywhere to use to improve trails and address safety issues by engaging the public’s help.

There are hundreds of parks listed, and many that offer more than just reports.

  • These parks specifically wanted maps, a calendar, alerts, and park news made available to park visitors on the ParkWatchReport website and phone app.
  • Reports are directed to the land manager based on the GPS coordinates that are taken from the reporting party's smart phone.
  • A park visitor can send a report from any park anywhere in the US, even with minimal cell reception, by using the “Report from Anywhere” function.

Our work is never done. We are continuously adding features:

  • A text alert function is being developed and will be available soon.
  • Park visitors that have registered on ParkWatchReport can select parks as favorites. If the superintendent of that park adds an alert it will be sent via text message to those that have chosen that park as a favorite.

The current system for tracking all of the hard work that park volunteers do is labor intensive, time consuming, and outdated.

  • ParkWatchReport is creating a system to track, record, dispatch, and alert volunteer groups.

Join us in our quest to help land managers keep our public land safe, clean, and enjoyable.

  • If you love the wonderful system of parks, trails, and open spaces that have been reserved for recreation and preservation, then here is your ticket to the ultimate in stewardship.
  • Park rangers and wardens need your “eyes and ears” to alert them to circumstances and conditions that you observe and are concerned about.

A final note

It's important to be clear about when you should use this method of reporting issues: it's NOT for emergencies.

Sounds like something
you'll use?

Thanks to Ben at ParkWatchReport for all of the details!

If you've ever felt frustration and wondered "What can I do?" when you see something that makes your time in the outdoors less than pleasant or safe, here's what you can do:

  • Download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.
  • Send the details of the problem to the local authorities in one quick and easy form.
  • Watch for updates on their response to the problem.

Together, we can keep our open spaces and trails accessible while teaching our kids that reporting a problem is always a better option than walking away in frustration.

This innovative reporting app gives you and me the power to make stewardship a regular part of our hiking experience. So let's use it!

I'll be using the app in the upcoming hiking season and updating this page with my experiences.

  • Let me know what your experiences have been with this app, and I'll add them to mine.
  • Just use the CONTACT link at the top left of this page. Or visit this page.

Thanks for your interest in your half of this land use equation: reporting incidents that need attention from local land managers.

And thanks again to ParkWatchReport for filling in the other half of the equation: responses to our reports.

Together, we all win!

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