Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 6, 2013

Public invited to take part in area's trails, waterways

MEADVILLE — A number of organizations, municipalities and individuals are participating in the conservation and outdoor recreation project development in the region. And now, members of the Council on Greenways and Trails invite the public to enjoy the trails, parks and waterways of the region and get involved in their development.

The Council on Greenways and Trails (CGT) is a partnership of Crawford, Venango and Clarion counties, seven municipalities and seven nonprofit groups who are working together to build and enhance the outdoor recreation infrastructure of the region; protect the area’s natural resources; and capitalize on the economic benefits that are tied to both.

The public is able to make the connections to the potential economic growth they are bringing to the region. The benefits to the region go beyond summertime fun. The year-round activities and amenities hope to draw new residents, visitors and economic development, which are helping to revitalize the area.

The Erie to Pittsburgh Trail (EPT) traverses through the area using local trails. Being part of the larger system draws trail users from across the country. While each trail segment has its own identity, they will now be connected to the region with the new EPT logo to be implemented in 2013. The EPT travels beside or through Spartansburg, Titusville, Oil City, Franklin, Emlenton and Foxburg. Plus, there are more regional multi-use trails, water trails, hiking trails and mountain bike trails in the region that attract visitors to nearby towns.

Businesses and local leaders are learning ways to draw trail users off the trail and into the business districts. With more than 160,000 people using the local trails yearly, the CGT reports, there is a lot of potential for increases to existing businesses and for new ones to open in the area. The designated economic development agencies of the region are realizing this potential and have become involved, partnering with council members. The Oil Region Alliance (ORA) of Business, Industry and Tourism, in particular, has recently became the fiscal agent for CGT with appreciation to the Franklin Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, which held that position to get CGT started.

Connecting the trails to towns is vital. Franklin has improved its connection by improving the trail through Riverfront Park in 2012. Signage and welcome gardens installed this spring will point the way for trail users to safely travel to downtown. Franklin also partnered with Sugarcreek Borough in 2012 to develop a Smart Transportation Plan linking the two municipalities that will enhance safety and access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users.

There are more than 88 miles of multi-use trail within the region, most of which is owned and operated by nonprofit organizations with others operated by municipalities such as Cornplanter and Cranberry townships and Oil Creek State Park. The Allegheny Valley Trails Association in 2012 received funds from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for trail rehabilitation, to purchase trail maintenance equipment, provide ADA access, and other related improvements. More than 10 miles of trail will have a new surface in the 2013 summer season.

This connection between Oil City and Oil Creek State Park will take the current trail route off the busy roadway. The Clear Lake Authority is also extending the trail northward with a feasibility study determining how to connect Spartansburg in Crawford County with Corry in Erie County.

While promoting development, CGT also encourages using the best engineering techniques to protect the environment. In 2013, Titusville, Spartansburg and Woodcock Township will demonstrate such techniques by either installing or improving rain gardens. These small basins use native vegetation to control stormwater runoff while allowing the water to infiltrate back into the ground, reducing flooding and preventing pollution.

Events continue all year long. The Friends of Oil Creek State Park and Two Mile Run County Park maintain cross country ski trails in the winter and invite hiking and running groups for events in the summer. The Clarion County Trails Association is a new organization extending the connections to an even larger region. Horseback riding, mountain biking and ATV and snowmobile motoring all add to the draw.

- More information: Contact Debra Frawley, Greenways coordinator, at dfrawley@oilregion.org or (814) 677-3152, extenstion 116.

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