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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 unuseable.
Here's how it works.
For a closer look at how this innovative idea took shape and grew into an easy to use system, take it away, 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?
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.
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.
Our work is never done. We are continuously adding features:
The current system for tracking all of the hard work that park volunteers do is labor intensive, time consuming, and outdated.
Join us in our quest to help land managers keep our public land safe, clean, and enjoyable.
One final note: The use of ParkWatchReport is NOT for emergencies."
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:
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.
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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