JOPLIN, Mo. — Ahead of “National Trails Day” on Saturday — folks with the “Joplin Trails Coalition” are sharing the importance of preserving local paths.

“I think it brings some health to your mind and brings a little peace, and some joy, and I think those are all really good reasons to come out and use the trail,” said Bob Herbst, President of Joplin Trails Coalition.

Going for a ride — a walk — a run — these can all be great ways to get outside and clear your head, while getting your daily dose of exercise.

According to the Joplin Trails Coalition, local path usage has increased by an estimated 25 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And with this Saturday marking the nationwide celebration of trails, officials with the JTC discussed why they believe this surge occurred.

“I think people are realizing the importance of dragging themselves away from the computer screen or the phone screen, periodically. This involves virtually no cost, you can do it at your convenience during daylight hours. I think it’s been proven that staying physically fit is important but you are more likely to do it if it is something you enjoy,” said Paul Teverow, Secretary of Joplin Trails Coalition.

“You don’t need a gym membership, you can come out here, rain or sunshine, whenever you want really. It is very accessible,” said Herbst.

Bob Herbst is the president of the Joplin Trails Coalition and has been for the past decade.

He discusses the work being done to keep our trails in top condition.

“We re-graveled this parking lot and expanded it, this bridge behind us, we wanted to make it so that people with handicaps, especially wheelchairs, could have access and we put this kiosk here, for informational reasons. Every time I’m on the trail, I’m on the lookout for things that need to be done,” said Herbst.

And according to Teverow, it’s all for the people.

“The feedback we’ve received from our members and the public has been very important to us, in knowing what problems we need to address and knowing what we can do to make the trails a more enjoyable experience for the people who use them,” said Teverow.