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Commissioner Sam Nolte and commission president Kristie Tenney at Thursday's Jan. 7, 2021 commission meeting.

Upshur County Trails volunteer details group’s progress, including work on new section measuring almost one mile

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Trails Volunteer Group said they have added native plants, signs and added a new trail to the system near Buckhannon-Upshur High School and the Upshur County Recreation Park in Tennerton.

Julia Kastner, on behalf of the Upshur County Trails Volunteer Group, said the group completed four projects with a mini-grant they earned in the summer. Among other upgrades, the group purchased and planted native plants along the trails in the park in October 2020, erected an archway at the entrance to the trails in November 2020, installed 30 to 35 trail signs in November 2020, and, prior to year’s end, put in a trail kiosk with a map of the trails in December.

“We’ve also been building new trails. The first we’re calling the whale tail trail, and that’s about a third of a mile that was built completely,” Kastner said. “It’s riding really well and that happened through the fall. More recently, we are working on a new section on the trail map, which is a dotted green line that is nine-tenths of a mile. It’s marked as coming in spring of 2021, but it’s in great shape, and we’re already riding (bicycling) it. We’re going to keep fine-tuning that as needed, but it’s in really good shape.”

Previously, the public has been invited to help the group on volunteer trail maintenance projects, but COVID-19 stopped them from hosting those events.

“We’ve been working in groups of two, three or four of us and trying to build a trail and maintain our existing trails, and we’ve really been working hard,” Kastner said. “We’ve got an estimated 100 volunteer hours in the last six weeks or so working on that new nine-tenths of a mile trail that just opened, so we’ve been working hard, and the response has been really good.”

The group’s Facebook page has over 700 members now, and 40 participants in a virtual event they put together in the fall.

“We have seen a visible steady increase in trail users, and also in the talk and the buzz about our trails online; people are talking about riding bikes in Upshur County, and they’re coming in from surrounding counties and from around the state to ride these trails,” Kastner said. “We’re really proud of the reputation we’ve been building, and the pandemic has helped public interest in outdoor rec and community resources like this, so we’re really putting Upshur County on the map as a mountain biking destination as well as other trails.”

Kastner also asked the commission to approve plans for additions at the amphitheater.

“The concrete idea we have right now is a progressive skill-building feature, what I mean by progressive skill-building is a place where beginner mountain bikers, all the way down to little, tiny kids can start off with something really small and work their way up to bigger hills,” Kastner said. “Progressive skills areas are becoming very much a standard offering at bike parks or parks that offer mountain biking all over the country.”

Kastner said they already have the funds to put together the training area, but they needed approval from the commission to move forward with the plan.

Commission president Kristie Tenney put forth a motion to table approval for two weeks in order to get approval from the state because the facility is grant funded, and commissioner Sam Nolte seconded the motion.

In other Upshur County Commission news, the commission:

  • Voted to keep the Sunday hours at the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility until further review. The facility will stay open on the first Sunday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Denied a request from former Upshur County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Gissy to be redesignated as part-time deputy with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office effective Jan. 4, 2021. The Upshur County Board of Education approved Gissy’s resignation from Upshur County Schools as the Prevention Resources Officer Supervisor, effective Jan. 3, 2021.

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