News from America's Trails...
Trail Days happen twice annually in California
The California Trails & Greenways Foundation, in cooperation with California State Parks, sponsors two separate events to celebrate trails in the Golden State. The weekend of April 25-26 is called California Trail Days, with Saturday being "Build 'Em and fix 'Em" day, while Sunday is "Trail Awareness Day" for walking and riding and enjoying the trails. On September 26, High Mountain Trail Day will feature events on trails in the National Forests, such as the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Foundation sells a wide variety of merchandise to promote the events and reward volunteers: sew-on patches, t-shirts, posters, buttons, and water bottles. The group also provides help with resolutions, news releases, local contacts, and planning and managing volunteer events.
For more information: California Trail Days, P O Box 183, Los Altos CA 94023 (800) 948-2843.
The St. Jones Greenway: water and land trails
The St. Jones Greenway is a 12-mile long corridor from Dover to the St. Jones River's mouth. A new master plan identifies the many important environmental and cultural sites along the greenway as well as potential trails and measures to protect the corridor. In a related project, Kent County and the state wildlife agency are building a water-based trailhead for hikers and cyclists as well as boaters.
For more information: Carl Solberg, St. Jones Greenway Commission (302) 736-2090.
State appropriates $1 million for Silver Comet Trail
Under the leadership of Senator Nathan Dean, the Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1,000,000 this session to begin the Silver Comet Trail, named after the sleek Seaboard Air Line RR passenger trail that connected Birmingham to Boston in the 50's and 60's. The Silver Comet Trail will be built on the now abandoned railroad bed from the Georgia border near Esom Hill to Atlanta. The PATH Foundation, a grass roots organization in Atlanta, is partnering with Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) and several counties to raise $2 million to design and build the trail. Over half the $13.5 million needed to complete the 57-mile long Silver Comet Trail is already committed.
The rail right-of-way from Rockmart to near Atlanta is owned by the Georgia Dept. of Transportation, who purchased the property for the future commuter rail service and leased it to DNR for interim use as a biking, hiking and horseback riding trail. The Silver Comet Trail will soon connect Atlanta to Anniston, Alabama as it connects with the Chief Ladiga Trail at the Georgia border. Trail "stations" in cities such as Powder Springs, Dallas, Rockmart, and Cedartown will act as trail community centers, providing bike and skate rentals, concessions, and room for local trail clubs to meet. These activity centers will likely create new businesses in each town. Similar trails in Florida and other states have 500,000 to a million visitors each year.
For more information: Carl Solberg, St. Jones Greenway Commission (302) 736-2090.
Grand Illinois Trail progresses
The Grand Illinois Trail is a 475-mile loop trail that connects Chicago's lakefront with the Mississippi River via the 60-mile I&M Canal State Trail, the 65-mile Great River Trail, and many more. Low-volume roads will be used as interim connections between off-road trails. To date, about 250 miles are open, about 40 miles are under development and about 185 miles are in the planning stage.
The idea for the Grand Illinois Trail was first introduced in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' State Trails Plan, and interest in and support of the Trail has skyrocketed since. The Grand Illinois Trail Coalition Executive Council, composed of state agencies, statewide organizations, and regional Grand Illinois Trail groups, coordinates efforts for developing, managing, and promoting the Trail. The Council's goal is to open at least one continuous route for hiking and biking by National Trails Day, June 3, 2000. To accomplish this goal, IDNR is negotiating agreements with agencies and organizations responsible for segments of the Grand Illinois Trail. In addition, signs, a brochure, and other development and promotion projects will be completed for the Year 2000 opening.
For more information: contact George Bellovics at (815) 732-9072 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers improve historic California Trail
In Elko, Nevada, several groups joined forces to improve public information for the California Trail. The Oregon-California Trails Association placed 31 new permanent historic markers with help from the Bureau of Land Management and donations from the Union Pacific Railroad and local businesses. Eighty additional markers will be installed to mark the National Historic Trail through Utah and Wyoming.
New Jersey Trails Fair scheduled for May 3
The second New Jersey Trails Fair will be held Sunday, May 3, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The fair will bring together people with interests in hiking, horseback riding, dog sledding, mountain biking, in-line skating, and other outdoor activities. The theme of the fair is "Trails For Your Health," with presentations and clinics focusing on health and safety on the trail. Talks and demonstrations will be given on a wide variety of trail activities.
The Trails Fair is being hosted by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry and the New Jersey Trails Council, an advisory committee to the state. Some of the sponsors supporting the fair include Saturn of Jersey City, American Canoe Association, and the Mars Candy Company.
For information on the Trails Fair, contact the Office of Natural Lands Management (609) 984-0041 or 984-1339.
BLM works with rail trail and motorcycle projects
Near Cottage Grove, OR, the Bureau of Land Management and the Row River Trail Partners completed crushed rock surfacing for the Row River Trail. The city is building an additional three miles of trail to link the BLM rail trail to the historic downtown area.
The BLM is also working with the Applegate Roughriders Motorcycle Club on the 50-mile Tillamook OHV Motorcycle Trail System. With several thousand hours of volunteer work and funding from the Oregon State OHV Program, 22 miles have been completed. The remainder of the trail is under NEPA review and completion is scheduled for this spring.
Trails Association encourages support for trails
The Virginia Trails Association has been playing a crucial role since the elimination of the state's trails and greenways program. Angela LaCombe, formerly State Trails Coordinator, has been acting as Executive Director for VTA. The group is in the process of hiring a permanent part-time director. Other projects include developing a Web site and coordinating East Coast Greenway efforts in Virginia.
Last year's Virginia Trails Summit identified the need for a comprehensive approach to planning, including a State Trails Plan, and the need for reliable funding sources for local and regional trails projects.
For more information: Virginia Trails Association, PO Box 1132, Ashland VA 23005; (804) 798-4160; Fax (804) 798-0433; e-mail: VAtrails@aol.com
Trails Coalition promotes statewide trail plan
The West Virginia Trails Coalition has been working with the State Legislature and state and federal agencies to promote trail development. The Statewide Trail Plan Committee has been meeting for the past year after kicking off the project at West Virginia's first state trails conference. In February the Coalition held a "Rotunda Trails Roundup" to bring supporters to the state capitol and expand support for the trails plan. The coalition has also been fundraising for the plan, bringing in new partners, and documenting the economic benefits of trails for the State Legislature.
For more information: West Virginia Trails Coalition, P O Box 487, Nitro WV 25143; (304) 755-4878.
Hatfield-McCoy Trail receives $6.25 million
The Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area, a multi-use trail project being developed in southern West Virginia, has received $6.25 million in funding support from the West Virginia Legislature. Project supporters are encouraged that this funding support will enable them to open the first 300-mile trail segment by the year 2000, and to rapidly complete the balance of the 2,000 mile trail system in the following years.
A new bill requires the West Virginia Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority to issue up to $6 million in revenue bonds for funding projects of the Hatfield-McCoy Authority. Funding through the Parkways Authority was deemed appropriate because the trails project will be located entirely within a 75-mile radius of the West Virginia Turnpike, thus qualifying it as a tourism and economic development project within the interest area of the Parkways Authority.
For more information: contact Leff Moore or John English at (304) 727-7441.