Aaron Lowe is the Acting Statewide Program Manager for Na Ala Hele — the State of Hawai‘i Trail and Access Program. Lowe believes that trails are an essential part of any place — acting as refuges for wildlife, resources for scientific discovery, and as outlets for hiking, biking, horse riding and more.
Most indoor places are not exactly havens for wildlife, Lowe says. We spend hours in places like movie theaters, offices, classrooms, and even homes without any green spaces in them at all:”For some people, the closest they get to nature [day-to-day] is a plastic tree in their office,” he says. “I think it’s important to get people into the forest.”
But how? Lowe is working with the U.S. National Parks Service to fill trails with art: “The idea is that we get artists out on the trail to create sculptures along the trail. We take pictures of these sculptures and put them in city galleries and museums … [and then people can] go on the trail to see them themselves,” he says.
Another way is centered around technology. “People are on their phones all the time,” Lowe says. “[What if] you have an app on your cellphone that tells you more information about what you are looking at [on a trail]?” Some parks post QR codes strategically throughout trails, often included on signs with photos and conservation information.
Other parks have custom-built apps that include games, challenges and more. J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida just launched an app that gamifies the nature experience — encouraging kids to interact with nature.
Whatever the way, Lowe hopes more and more people will get outside — and onto a trail.
To learn more, watch his whole talk below: