Good Natured Pennsylvanians
Bill Ritting is a registered landscape architect who devotes his time to representing people with disabilities while serving on the Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee.
Through his professional work as a landscape architect, Bill has worked on park planning and community-level trail layout projects.
After becoming more involved in advocating for trails and greenspaces, Bill learned of an opportunity at the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee.
The 20-member committee represents various types of trail users in Pennsylvania and includes trail advocates, trail planners, trail builders, and trail managers.
Each year, the committee reviews applications for the Community Conservation Partnerships Program -- providing guidance to DCNR on state and federal trail funding.
When Bill applied to be a member of the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee, he felt, based on his professional background and having cerebral palsy, that he would be a good fit as advocate to represent people with disabilities.
“This became much more,” says Bill. “In an effort to become aware of the obstacles and concerns of those with disabilities, I realized, I didn’t know as much as I initially thought. I’m learning every day.”
Bill has gained a great deal of knowledge about the needs of different trail users and the great recreation resources available in Pennsylvania. Resources that previously had been unknown to him.
“This year, it became extremely important for me to get out on the trails to maintain fitness when my gym was closed due to COVID-19,” Bill points out. “Getting on the trails also helped me retain my sanity and provided socialization (at a distance).”
Bill prefers the fast pace of cycling to hiking or walking; and enjoys spending time on the D&L Trail, the Schuylkill River Trail, the Perkiomen Trail, and other local trails.
Being involved in the Pa. Trails Advisory Committee also has afforded Bill the opportunity to try other modes of recreation as well. He wasn’t an avid trail user, but now he’s always prepared with trail apps, maps, and mileage lists.
“I’ve done ATV riding and have tried e-bikes. I see both of these machines as part of my future, since they are great mobility devices,” he says. “I’ve also learned that I enjoy being a trail advocate. I welcome questions on how I had to “adapt” and use adaptive equipment or strategies to get out on the land-based trails or on the water trails, if that will help someone.”
As a member of the Marlborough Township Park and Recreation Board, Bill viewed first-hand the evolution of how providing access to the Perkiomen Trail was not considered a desirable thing in the community; but is now generally appreciated.
Now, additional trail connections are being planned because the physical, mental, and economical value of the trail has been realized.
“While riding on the D&L Trail earlier this year, near Bethlehem Steel Stacks, I thought how much I would have liked to have had a trail like this near my house while growing up in Philadelphia, says Bill. “The trail is an oasis, right in town -- God’s Country.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate someone.