Public comment period open for the Old Fort Trails Project – Trails For All

Feb 25, 2021 | News

Trail Advocates, please read the press release below from Forest Service and the G5 Trail Collective. This is a huge opportunity to add 42 miles of new trails in the Grandfather District. As you’ll see in the image at the bottom, all but 4 of the proposed trails include access for downhill or cross-country mountain biking.

Please help advocate for these additions by commenting during the 30 day window, which opened February 24, 2021. Comments will help guide managers as they move into environmental review of the proposed trails, with a potential final decision on the trail plans this fall.

This is a very exciting time, years of hard work and planning from many of our partners have gone into making this a reality.

Forest Service releases Old Fort trails proposal for public comment

Nebo, NC, February 24, 2021 – “Trails for all” are coming to Old Fort, in McDowell County, N.C. The Pisgah National Forest’s Grandfather Ranger District released its final trail proposal today for the Old Fort Trails Project. The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public input on the proposal over the next 30 days.

The proposal features 42 miles of new sustainably constructed trails that aim to improve community connectivity, reduce barriers to access, and support environmental and social sustainability. The new trails will be supported by two new trailhead parking areas. Approximately one mile of trail relocations are proposed to increase maintainability of the existing trail system.

The Old Fort Trails project is a community-driven project focused on connectivity, accessibility, and sustainability. The Grandfather District is partnering with the G5 Trail Collective, a local non-profit supporting backcountry trails on the Grandfather District, and People on the Move For Old Fort, a Black-led community collaborative that engages residents in community-building efforts that result in a more inclusive and equitable town. “Trails for all” has become the slogan of the project, which aims to provide a diversity of trail experiences for a diversity of users.

These trail improvements are possible because of the support of this planning effort, as well as current and future trail maintenance efforts, by the community and local partners. Partners have raised over $150,000 to support the project to date. Volunteers from trail running, biking, and equestrian groups have dedicated thousands of hours to trail maintenance around Old Fort.

Through a collaborative process in late fall 2020, partners gathered close to 300 comments from the local community to guide the proposal. The community identified key connections, landscapes, and uses that laid the framework for trail design. Over the last few months, over 600 hours have gone into on-the-ground layout of trail corridors by design specialists from the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions and Grandfather District trail managers.

The proposal released today reflects years of planning and months of public participation and ground-truthing trail locations. The U.S. Forest Service is asking for public comments on this final proposal now through the end of March. Comments will help guide managers as they move into environmental review of the proposed trails, with a potential final decision on the trail plans this fall. View the official public scoping letter and submit comments online.

To learn more about the project and comment directly to trail managers, join the Grandfather District, G5 Trail Collective, and People on the Move Old Fort for the following virtual public meetings:

Wednesday March, 3, 2021 from 5:30-6:30pm eastern time.
Zoom Meeting ID: 840 1920 9035; Passcode: 313843
Zoom Link

Friday March 5, 2021 from noon-1pm eastern time.
Zoom Meeting ID: 851 2562 5866; Passcode: 497185
Zoom Link

For more information

Visit the G5 Trail Collective website, online at https://www.g5trailcollective.org/

For questions about the project, email the Grandfather District Recreation and Trails Program Manager at lisa.n.jennings@usda.gov

The Old Fort Trails project is a long-term project that will be implemented over the next five to 10 years. Trails will be built out from the community of Old Fort through the backcountry. We are anticipating beginning construction on the first sections of trail in winter 2021-2022. Stay involved with the project by volunteering or sign up for emails at https://www.g5trailcollective.org/.

Map of the Old Fort Trails Project

G5 Trail Collective’s volunteer coordinator, Jack Henderson, surveys trail conditions. Photo by Zack Cebenka.

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