Volunteers gather at the Upshur County Trails July 11 to help build an additional half-mile of trail. Trail workdays happen each month, and details are available on the Upshur County Trails Facebook. The group received a $3,000 ‘Try This’ West Virginia mini-grant. / Photo courtesy Rachel and John Weber

Upshur Trails awarded ‘Try This’ mini-grant to improve, expand trail system

BUCKHANNON – Volunteers with the Upshur County Trails are pleased to announce they recently secured a $3,000 mini-grant through Try This West Virginia.

The grant was written by Upshur County Trails member Rachel Garton Weber and is earmarked to improve trail conditions and create new trails in Upshur County. The mini-grant will help fund a kiosk and signage on approximately six miles of trails situated in the Upshur County Recreational Park and Buckhannon-Upshur High School properties.

Vocational students will create and install the signs and kiosk as well as a wooden arch marking the entrance to the trails. Signs will mark trail heads and the intersections of the trails. The mini-grant will also provide funds for native plants, seeds and rhizomes throughout the trails.

Weber said Jeffrey Ford, vocational instructor at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, is going to have his technology education students help with making the signs.

“Even if school is limited, he said the students can work on part of the project online,” Weber said.

“We are going to work on having a wooden archway built for the main entrance to the trails,” she said. “We are going to put up two kiosks at the main areas that will have maps, trail information, safety awareness and things like that. We will also be adding native plants throughout the Upshur County Trails.”

Recently, Upshur County Trails partnered with the City of Buckhannon to expand the network of trails even more by entering into a lease with the adjoining property owner, Wolf Run Mining, a subsidiary of Arch Coal.

At a meeting in June, Buckhannon City Council approved signing a nonexclusive 10-year lease on behalf of Upshur Trails with Wolf Run Mining for the purpose of repurposing former mine land into a nonmotorized recreation area. The acquisition of the 260-acre area would allow Upshur Trails volunteers to expand the approximately six miles of trails another 10 miles.

There’s no provision in the lease for payment and the city/Upshur County Trails must be given 30 days’ notice if Wolf Run Mining wants to reclaim the land for mining. Upshur Trails volunteer and attorney Nathan Fetty told council that the property is a ‘critical’ piece of the puzzle when it comes to connecting the Riverwalk Trail system to the Upshur County Trails system, and eventually extending both upriver, south along Route 20 toward Sago.

Personally, Weber said she is excited about the Building Blocks for Healthy Communities mini-grant and is ready to get working on the trail improvements. She said another exciting aspect is that more and more people are getting out and utilizing these trails for biking, hiking, walking and communing with nature.

“There are tons more people using the trails,” Weber said. “Every time I am out there, I am seeing more and more cars in the parking lot, and I know there are people on the trails.”

Along with the mini-grant, the Upshur County Trails members are selling stickers which feature a biker, runner, hiker and a dog. The stickers are available for a donation of any amount larger than $3. They are available at Stone Tower Brews in Buckhannon and Joey’s Bike Shop in Elkins.

“The sale of the stickers is going very well,” Weber said. “I only have a handful left and if people want more, I will put in another order. We may have some more decals available later with a virtual event we are planning.”

Weber said the virtual event was approved through the Buckhannon-Upshur Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

“We are planning to do this virtual event, hopefully on Labor Day Weekend. Basically, we want people to participate in the virtual event as a fundraiser. We hope people will go out to the Upshur County Trails, or the trails where they live, and go out and run, bike or hike the distance that we set and post to our Facebook page that they supported this event, upload their data from their virtual biking, hiking or running.”

More details about this virtual event will be available on the group’s Facebook page.

Currently, Weber said the Upshur County Trails is selling T-shirts to raise funds for their group. Details about the shirt sale are available at https://toplineapparelllc.com/shop/ols/products/upshur-county-trails.

“This is with Top Line Apparel and additional information is available on our Facebook,” Weber said.

The Upshur County Trails will continue to sponsor monthly trail days where volunteers can help clean and maintain the trails. Their last work event was on July 11 and Weber said approximately eight volunteers worked to help complete an additional half-mile of trails.

“Folks can check with our Facebook group if they would like to come during our workday,” she said. “I will post the day and time and what they should bring with them in order to help.”

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