Friday, November 4, 2016

Alliance receives grant to study Fayette, Nicholas trail network

On the Cranberry River. Photo courtesy Mike Boyes.
The New River Gorge Trail Alliance has received a $140,000 planning grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to study the feasibility of a regionally-connected bike trail system in Fayette and Nicholas counties in south-central West Virginia.

Working in partnership with West Virginia Connecting Communities, the alliance will spend the next year planning a regional network of trails in the counties, according to alliance president Bill Wells.

“Our vision is to join together successful existing bike trails, such as the Tri-Rivers Trail, the Meadow River Trail, and the White Oak Trail, into a larger network of trails,” Wells said.

“By connecting the Monongahela National Forest to the New River Gorge National River, our region’s status will continue to grow as an East Coast adventure recreation destination.”

Project partners include the Hatfield and McCoy Trails, the Department of Highways, the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, Fayette and Nicholas county governments, Active Southern West Virginia, West Virginia Connecting Communities, various city governments, and many private businesses.

Wells said other potential partners include West Virginia State Parks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Weyerhaeuser Company.

Andy Forron, alliance board member and owner of New River Bikes, in Fayetteville, emphasized the networks ability to bolster the region's growing tourism industry.

“We believe that a new network of bike trails will increase tourism, provide new jobs and job training, spawn new businesses, encourage the relocation of professionals, and improve outdoor recreation opportunities for locals,” Forron said.

“We hope to create a 350-plus-mile trail network by building 100 miles of new connector trails with this and future grant money.”

The alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes the health and well-being of the area by building and maintaining a regional trail system. For more information, visit the alliance on Facebook.

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