Legacy Trails Program Awardee


Catawba River Headwaters

The core of this project is reduction in erosion through trail restoration, relocation, and decommissioning. This District's history is in preservation of water quality. The Weeks Act established the parcel of land along Curtis Creek to improve water quality for wildlife as well as people downstream. Today, the health of the Catawba River Watershed is a key focus area for a large swath of the south that relies on it for clean and consistent drinking water supply.

Applicant: G5 Trail Collective
Project Location: Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Amount Awarded: $98,278.00

The waters of Curis Creek, Linville River, and Wilson Creek all form the headwaters of the Catawba River. The river then stretches 300 miles to the confluence with the Congaree River in South Carolina and serves as drinking water for over 2 million people. The river also supports recreation and a diverse ecosystem. This watershed measures over 5000 square miles and includes the Charlotte metropolitan area, many small towns, and farmlands. The significance of this project exists in its impact on the protection of the headwaters of this significant river.

Trail improvements at the headwaters will directly improve water quality for sensitive aquatic species as well as move one trail (Newberry) away from a cultural site. These improvements will reduce sedimentation by relocating specific trail segments away from streams, hardening crossings with armoring, replacing bridges and culverts, as well as updating sustainability on project trails with improved grade reversals and enhanced grade dips. Aquatic species such as native brook trout and rare aquatic species will all benefit from the impacts of this project. Specifically, there will be positive impacts to downstream populations of the two regionally sensitive aquatic species that exist within the Wilson Creek watershed, Ophiogomphus Edmundo, a freshwater mussel, and Alasmidonta varacosa, a dragonfly.

Indirectly, this project will improve the long-term environmental sustainability of the watershed by making these specific trails more resilient to major rain events and flooding. Extreme rainfall events in the Southern Appalachians are increasing due to climate change. Specifically, on the Grandfather Ranger District which sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, landslides and large erosion events are increasing in frequency as heavy rainfall events become the norm. Trails with large deferred maintenance backlogs are most susceptible, and can create large sediment pulses into the headwaters of the Catawba River Watershed. All work in this project will increase the resiliency of trails to these extreme events by focusing on drainage and hardening areas where trails cross tributaries.

The Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest’s legacy stands in its own place in the conservation history. This is the first land protected in the east by the federal government to improve water quality after an era of logging interest depleted these mountains of their resources and their character. The creators of the Weeks Act represented a successful partnership between people who care about the environment and the governmental agencies. This project seeks to bring this conservation ethic into our modern context by solving critical resource issues, connect an expanded user and volunteer group to the forest, and serve as a model of how the United States Forest Service can work with constituents to create socially critical, economically responsible, and environmentally viable recreation opportunities.

Specifically, this project aims to address a backlog of deferred maintenance and prioritizes projects with significant environmental sustainability issues across the district. Addressing these issues as a connected system creates a large-scale improvement to the entire watershed.

By using the most current methods of trail construction and restoration, the project not only solves the existing sustainability issues, it creates trails that are more appropriate for more user groups, improves visitor safety, and requires less maintenance.

By engaging a wide variety of user groups this project brings together a large community, moving past user-conflicts, and coalescing around a common goal of improving watershed health. Beyond the user groups, this project engages a community at large and a number of gateway communities that rely on the forest for social and economic benefits. Engaging historically disadvantaged communities through existing and proven outreach efforts will result in a trail system across the landscape that is socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable.

The actions outlined in this project create the overarching benefit of improving the resiliency of the Grandfather District. Through these actions, this forest will see improved watershed health, enhanced water quality, more accessible and inclusive trail access, and contribute to the economic vitality of the surrounding rural communities. This proposal is an example of how we can do more together. How collaboration can be taken from a local scale to a landscape scale. And how small actions can build upon each other to make a big impact on resiliency and watershed health.

More winners of this award

2024: Highline Trail

2024: Teton Trails Deferred Maintenance

2024: Phase 2 of the Arroyo Hondo Project

2024: Greenhorn Gulch Trail Reroute and Bridge Rebuild

2024: Trail Rehabilitation in Beaverhead Deer Lodge National Forest

2024: Trail Maintenance and Repairs in Pisgah National Forest

2024: Wasatch National Forest Deferred Maintenance and Weather Resilience

2024: Rio Fernando de Taos Watershed Revival

2024: Mineral Creek Trail Reroute

2024: Second Fork Trail Project

2024: Trinity River Watershed Trail Improvement Project

2024: Salmon-Challis National Forest Trail Restoration

2024: Manistee, White, Muskegon, and Pere Marquette River Watershed

2024: Mount Shavano Trail and Riparian Habitat Restoration Project

2024: South Park Ranger District Singletrack Connector Trail

2024: Oak Creek Canyon Watershed Restoration Project

2024: Bartram National Recreation Trail Maintenance

2024: Idaho Panhandle National Forest Sandpoint Ranger District Trail Reroute

2024: Pony Express National Historic Trail Improvement

2024: South Lake and Moss Lake Trail Restoration

2024: West Ridge Trail #176 Improvements

2024: Blue Bend Loop Trail Restoration

2024: Catamount Trail Improvement

2024: Munson Meadow Trail Restoration

2024: Vesuvius Recreation Area Trail System Restoration

2024: Hurricane Creek Trail Restoration

2024: Cove Creek Trail Rehabilitation

2023: The Storm Creek Connector Trail

2023: Backpacker and Lakeshore Trails

2023: Beaver Meadows Trail

2023: Munson Meadow Trail

2023: Imnaha River Trail

2023: Maxon Meadows Trail to Chamberlain Meadows Camp

2023: Lost Lake Trail

2023: Virginia Highlands Horse Trail

2023: Pasayten Wilderness Project

2023: Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

2023: Southfork Trail, White Mountain Wilderness

2023: Black Canyon and Trail Creek Drainages

2023: Twenty Lakes Basin Toads and Trails

2023: Dickey Bell Trail Reroute and Bypass

2023: Horseshoe Canyon Trails

2023: Lower San Francisco River Wilderness Study Area

2023: Trails in Ontonagon and Sturgeon watersheds

2023: Bandit Springs Trail System

2023: Caton Lake Trail

2023: Yellowbelly Trail

2023: Santa Cruz Trail

2023: Bridge Replacement for Trail Access

2023: Pioneer Mountains Trail Maintenance

2023: North Country National Scenic Trail Connections

2023: Pincushion Mountain Ski Trails

2023: Rocky Gap Horse Trail System

2023: Shrode Lake Trail

2023: Johnson Creek Trail Re-Establishment

2023: Soda Ditch Loop Trail

2023: Restoration of Buckhorn and Indian Trails

2023: Hauf Lake and One Horse Lakes Trails

2023: Building Resilience on the TRT/PCT

2023: Camp Creek Watershed Improvement

2023: Pomas Creek Trail and Entiat River Trail

2023: Western States Trail & Tevis Cup Trail, within Granite Chief Wilderness

2023: Western States Trail Improvements

2023: Sipsey Wilderness Trails Restoration

209 views • posted 05/24/2023