Adopt a Trail; Walking with Purpose

Active SWV Community Captain’s Adopt a Trail

An innovative partnership between Active Southern West Virginia and the New River Gorge Trail Alliance to improve trail infrastructure and community health.

Regional trail reporting, trail maintenance, and adopt a trail programs are available through a partnership between Active Southern West Virginia (Active SWV) and the New River Gorge Trail Alliance (NRGTA). Trails in southern West Virginia are recreational assets for the local outdoorsman and out of state tourists. Increasing, improving, and maintaining an extensive trail network will improve the quality of life for residents while attracting visitors to our region for extended stays.

The Adopt a Trail Partnership

Active SWV seeks to improve the health of all southern West Virginians by providing opportunities for active lifestyles through 5 signature programs; Community Captains, Kids Run Clubs, Bike/Walk SWV, Workplace Wellness, and Signature Events. This mission is accomplished by recruiting, training, and mentoring volunteer Community Captains to lead physical activities on a regular schedule within communities, schools, and businesses.

The New River Gorge Trail Alliance is organized to promote the health and well-being of the area by building and maintaining a trail system. Funding has been awarded and now is the time to begin construction on the 150 miles of connector trails this summer with a 30-month timeline for completion in Nicholas and Fayette Counties.

A group celebrating the trail work of Gary Morefield in the Piney Creek Gorge.

The Programs

Active SWV Community Captain volunteer leadership training is free and available now with a variety of physical activity opportunities. This Adopt a Trail partnership is specifically recruiting for volunteers to help in these ways; Regional Trail Reporting, Trail Maintenance and Construction through the Adopt a Trail program. Choose the best fit for you or take on more than one role.

Regional Trail Reporting: Anyone at anytime can walk a trail and report back to the New River Gorge Trail Alliance on the trail condition; good, needs work, hazardous, and even send in photos. Here is the Google Form to complete a report. You can also request a form by emailing Sam Chaber, NRGTA Trail Maintenance Manager, at [email protected]This includes these counties: Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Raleigh, Greenbrier, and Kanawha Counties.

Trail Maintenance and Construction is where you come away from the day feeling full of accomplishment. This is when you become an Active SWV Community Captain and receive trail maintenance training at these levels: Gold, Silver, Bronze.

Sam Chaber, NRGTA Trail Maintenance Manager, says, “Come and enjoy the day on the trail, your help with assisting in trail maintenance will benefit yourself and others. It’s a great workout and will help create a positive user experience. Trail work can range from raking, light digging, pruning, and moving small rocks. I have trail work guidelines to share with every volunteer and I welcome new volunteers to come learn the skill of trail maintenance with me.”

  • The Level 1 or Bronze level of trail adoption is structured for individuals, groups or families who would like to care for community trials, but would like to do so with minimal training, who are unable to commit a great deal of time and/or who live out of town and are able to make few regular commitments to visit the area for volunteer service. This may also be an ideal level of trail adoption for a group with a lot of younger children who might not be prepared to use hand tools. 
  • Level 2 or Silver level of trail adoption is structured for individuals, groups, or families who would like to take an active role in caring for community trails with a moderate level of training and a commitment to both organized and unsupervised work. Individuals and group members committing to trail adoption at this level will receive training and be competent to use hand tools appropriately without supervision, and they will understand the management and maintenance goals for the trails they wish to adopt. 
  • Level 3 or Gold Level trail adoption is structured for individuals, groups, or families who would like to take a very active role in caring for community trails. This includes investing time into some training and committing to both organized and unsupervised work. The Gold Level trail adopters may also receive special requests from NRGTA to participate in or even lead special projects on their adopted trails. Individuals and group members committing to trail adoption at this level will receive training and be competent to use hand tools and chainsaws appropriately without supervision, and they will understand trail management and maintenance goals.

You can view the full description in the Adopt a Trail Handbook on the NRGTA webpage.

  • Anyone can come to these trail maintenance events to explore, gain some training, and contribute to the trail projects. Review these dates and RSVP in these ways: Facebook event pages will be coming soon, contact NRGTA, or contact Active SWV. (304) 254-8488
    • April 21st Needles Eye Boulder Park in Oak Hill, WV
    • June 9th Richwood United States Forest Service (USFS)
    • July 7th Fayetteville NPS
    • July 28th Richwood USFS
    • August 4th Babcock SP
    • August 25th Richwood USFS
    • October 6th Hawks Nest SP
    • November 3rd Richwood USFS
      *tentative schedule

The Adopt a Trail program allows you to take responsibility for your choice of trail section for routine visits. Once you have become an Active SWV Community Captain and have the training for trail maintenance, the next step is taking ownership of a trail or trail section. This means organizing group trail walks and routine trail visits. This can be custom to each volunteer and each trail when planning the number of visits. We welcome all ideas and interests. Successful Adopt a Trail Community Captains will be recognized in both organizations, Active SWV and the NRGTA. Contact Sam Chaber for more details and to sign up for your Adopt a Trail section.

Conclusion

This partnership reiterates the importance of safe venues and community engagement for improved access for walking and biking activities. This is the mission of the Active SWV Bike/Walk program. To learn more about the successful projects of this program explore here.
This is a great time to join this partnership and be part of a large network of trail improvement and connectivity. There will be a lot to celebrate and many beautiful miles to explore. Contact Active SWV or the New River Trail Alliance today!

Additional Resources

The New River Gorge Trail Alliance has additional resources for you:

Adopt A Trail Volunteer Handbook

Trail condition report

Vision Map

Trail Maintenance Techniques (coming soon)

NRGTA Facebook page

The Active SWV Bike/Walk program has additional resources for you:

The regional trail map guide to include federal, state, county, and city parks and trails in Nicholas, Fayette, Raleigh, and Summers counties.

The Active SWV Bike/Walk How-to Manual explaining the many ways a resident can affect policy and environmental changes in small towns across southern West Virginia.

Active SWV Bike/Walk Facebook page

Active SWV Bike/Walk How-to Manual introduction:

Making incremental changes to the way your community operates with a focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety can change the overall experience people have within your town. Marketing your community as being “bicycle friendly” can be an effective way to strengthen the local economy by attracting businesses and professionals who value a higher quality of life and the ability to choose how they transport themselves. Nationwide, communities of all sizes are realizing the value in becoming bicycle friendly and beginning to invest in that potential by including these considerations in all future planning. Cities of different shapes and sizes face different challenges in their pursuit, but they all share the goal of connecting people with places.

In southern West Virginia, our communities face some very distinct challenges, some of which are unique to the area. People who live here are very aware of the physical constraints of living in the mountains. Many of the distinguishing characteristics that make southern West Virginia such a beautiful place to live (narrow roads, limited light pollution and seasonal weather) can also make it difficult to easily navigate from place to place. Unlike many of the other areas of our country that expanded in the mid-20th century to accommodate growing families and automobile traffic, much of southern West Virginia’s rapid development occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as families immigrated in to work in the timber and coal industries. This growth happened before the advent of automobile traffic, and when cars arrived, communities modernized by widening roads for cars at any cost. The rapid growth of that era has waned and has left many of the area’s communities connected by roads only fit for automobile traffic. It is worth considering how our communities can best be served by roads that are safe for all modes of transportation.

Although the reduction of population and traffic in many of southern West Virginia’s communities is usually considered a bad thing, it provides a unique opportunity to repurpose these places as havens for people-powered activities! When combined with supplementary plans for urban renewal, bicycle and pedestrian planning has proven to be an effective approach for revitalization.

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