FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2009
Deirdre Hewitt, 404-562-3175
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL CONSERVATION & RECREATION PROJECTS
(ATLANTA)---The National Park Service has selected fifteen communities and partnerships in the Southeast to receive planning and technical assistance in developing new outdoor recreation opportunities and preserving important local natural resources.
Through the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program, the National Park Service helps communities and neighborhoods preserve their important local resources, protect river resources, develop new trails and greenways and create new open space. These projects are locally-led with RTCA staff supporting local recreation and conservation leaders.
“We help citizens work with local agencies and organizations to create new parks and trails and to help protect important water resources,” said Deirdre Hewitt, who manages the RTCA Program in the National Park Service’s Southeast Region. “We do not provide money for projects. We provide staff with recreation and conservation planning expertise. These staff assists local sponsors to organize public workshops, develop public-private partnerships, identify funding sources and develop community-based visions and realistic strategies for new trails, greenways, protected river corridors and natural areas.”
Ms. Hewitt said that the National Park Service has been a catalyst in helping communities throughout the Southeast. “Each year we help community leaders accomplish their local visions across the region”. RTCA also helps bring new public and private partners to local projects. “The nation now recognizes the health benefits associated with close-to-home park and trail opportunities,” Hewitt said. “The RTCA Program is working throughout the nation to bring public and private members of the health profession into community partnerships that lead to new community parks and recreation facilities.”
Each year the RTCA Program evaluates requests for assistance and selects new communities and organizations for technical assistance. To serve communities throughout the southeast, the RTCA Program has offices in Asheville, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Sarasota, Florida, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
This is the list of projects accepted for assistance by the RTCA Program for Fiscal Year 2009.
River of Grass Greenway – The River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) is a proposed non-motorized transportation and recreation corridor across the Everglades, connecting this unique natural resource with the densely populated east and west coasts of southern Florida. The greenway will be approximately 75 miles long, with a separate hardsurface 12 foot wide trail that generally parallels U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail), connecting Collier to Miami-Dade County. The ROGG will provide a pathway between the following parks: Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Collier-Seminole State Park, Picayune Strand State Forest, and possibly the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Pulaski County Blueway & River Parks Project – RTCA will help Pulaski County and the Town of Hawkinsville develop a plan for a 14 mile blueway on the Ocmulgee River that connects public launch areas in Houston and Pulaski Counties with the newly renovated river parks in Hawkinsville. There will also be linkages to the new Go Fish Visitor Center in Perry.
Boundary Waters Park Trail Project – RTCA will assist Douglas County with the expansion of their trail system in Boundary Waters Park. This system will be connected to the proposed 100-mile Chattahoochee Hill Country Trail that includes the counties of Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, and Fulton.
Upper Chattahoochee River Canoe Trail Study -- RTCA, the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Georgia State Parks are working together to evaluate the feasibility of a canoe trail to connect 3 state parks, 2 federal parks, and a county park. The upper section of the river is between Helen and Lake Lanier.
Big Sandy River Water Trail – RTCA, the Big Sandy Area Development District and local communities collaborate on a water trail plan between Prestonsburg and Paintsville on the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River. The water trail will be promoted to generate interest in water quality, stimulate tourism, preserve local history and improve the image of the Big Sandy River.
Eagles Nest Equestrian Trails Preservation – The Commonwealth of Kentucky has an opportunity to protect 1000 acres of land and add over 30 miles of equestrian trails for public use near Harrodsburg. RTCA will assist the Ft. Harrod Back Country Horsemen, Inc., with a strategic plan to successfully secure this project site for future public equestrian use.
Jessamine County Historic Bluegrass Trail Project – The Jessamine County Trail Association intends to develop a countywide strategy to create trails and preserve the rural character. RTCA and local project partners will promote this project to designate bike routes, establish dedicated bike/pedestrian corridors and help maintain the existing rural landscape.
Louisville Loop Trail – RTCA will work with a local advisory committee to develop an organizational structure to sustain the 105 mile Louisville Loop Trail system currently being built around the city. The new management entity will enable the coordinated management, maintenance and funding for the Loop Trail among the many government and public groups with interests in the Trail.
Bayous to Use (Shreveport) – RTCA and the City of Shreveport will prepare a master plan for greenways and pedestrian/bike paths along existing drainage canals and levees. These drainage canals and levees offer the citizens of Shreveport a network of protected open spaces and trails. The planning process will include extensive public participation and the development of creative strategies to successfully implement the plan.
Dow Westside YMCA Trail (Addis) – The YMCA intends to build a 0.5 mile walking path on their site to promote healthy activity for their members and local residents. RTCA will assist with the planning process for the trail, publicity and public education to promote trail use by local residents.
Forrest County Multi-Use Trail Project – RTCA and Forrest County will prepare a county trail plan. The main connector for the trail system will be Black Creek from which a series of secondary trails will branch into communities. One of the proposed trails will connect an urban area between the Long Leaf Trace Rail Trail, the county hospital and University of Southern Mississippi.
Pioneering Healthier Communities – A variety of partners in Asheville are working together to implement a strategy that will make the City of Asheville more walkable, bikeable, and connected. The project will ultimately join neighborhoods, campuses, and downtown so that residents and visitors can increase physical activity and safely accomplish day to day activities depending on their feet and not their cars.
Lower Richland Passage of the Palmetto Trail Project (Midlands)– RTCA will work with the Palmetto Conservation Foundation and local governments to complete approximately 16 miles on one of the last sections of the Palmetto Trail system from Fort Jackson to the Wateree River. The entire Palmetto Trail will extend 425 miles across the State of South Carolina.
Upper Pee Dee Greenways, Trails and Blueways Initiative – RTCA will work with the Hartsville Family YMCA and the cities of Chesterfield, Darlington and Hartsville to prepare a plan for a network of greenways, trails and blueways in each community. The network of land and water trails and open space will connect each community to local and state parks, and promote economic development from new recreation and tourism-based businesses.