Join the Chester County Planning Commission for the second and final public meeting for the Southern Chester County Circuit Trail Feasibility Study on October 22, 2020. After receiving input through a public survey, a public meeting, stakeholder interviews, and the Project Advisory Committee, the project team has further refined the options for trail alignments. During this meeting there will be an opportunity to provide input on the trail alignments, as well as potential trailhead locations and connections from the trail to key destinations. The presentation will begin at 7 pm with an interactive session beginning at 7:45 pm. Register here.
The community conservation project to permanently preserve the meadows, woodlands and paved trails of the defunct Churchill Valley Country Club as a 148-acre greenway for public recreation and environmental education received another major boost last week when the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) awarded a $1,000,000 grant to Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) for the acquisition of the land.
“It would be impossible to overstate the importance of this most recent grant award from DCNR,” said ALT’s President & CEO Chris Beichner. “This is an enormous boost for the project–coming on the heels of the $300,000 of recently awarded private grant funding and continued donations from the community the Churchill Valley Greenway is much, much closer to becoming a reality,” Beichner said. “We truly appreciate the DCNR’s support of this important community conservation project, and also the support of the elected officials that helped to make it happen.”
The recent DCNR grant pushes the current total raised from residents, local businesses, private foundations, the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority, and the Commonwealth of PA to more than $2,175,000. ALT has the property under contract to purchase and permanently protect contingent upon its ability to raise the $3,000,000 necessary by March 2021. Additional grant requests are pending, and discussions are on-going with potential corporate sponsors and other funders in attempt to close the $800,000 gap by the early 2021 deadline.
“I am happy to help move this project forward and very pleased that DCNR was able to provide this level of support,” said PA State Senator Jay Costa (43rd District). State Representative Summer Lee (34th District) said “the protection of the Churchill Valley Greenway will improve the quality of life in our communities and I’m excited to support its progress.” In addition to Costa and Lee, the Greenway project is endorsed by the Churchill Borough Council and a wide range of community groups and civic organizations.
The land and the trails of the proposed Churchill Valley Greenway are already being enjoyed informally by residents of all ages, interests and abilities for walking, biking, bird watching, and other outdoor pursuits, and the current pandemic has only underscored the need for its protection. The proposed greenway, like other parks and trails, has experienced a dramatic increase in visitors in recent months as people flock in record numbers to exercise, find solace in nature or simply to get some fresh air while practicing safe social distancing.
Located in a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection-designated “Environmental Justice Area,” the greenway would provide equitable, convenient and permanent access to the restorative benefits of nature to the 95,000 people who live within a 3-mile radius and to all residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Those interested in supporting the conservation project can choose “Churchill Valley Greenway Project” on ALT’s online donation form here: alleghenylandtrust.org/donate
Trail projects in northwestern Pennsylvania will move forward with new funding announced today by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
In partnership with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC), Crawford County sought and received a $1.5 million POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) grant to support trail construction on the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail and the Knox & Kane Rail Trail.
Trail advocates view the funding as a chance not only to advance previously planned projects, but also to catalyze new trail development throughout the region.
“We are grateful to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners for their vision in pursuing this extraordinary opportunity,” said Brett Hollern, Program Manager for PEC, which will manage the projects on the County’s behalf. “Likewise, we couldn’t have secured these resources without the help of local trail groups and our other partner organizations, and the vital support we received from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).”
The POWER Initiative helps communities and regions affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.
Tourism and outdoor recreation have provided an economic lifeline to many such communities in Pennsylvania in recent years. At a time when other sectors are struggling, the state’s $29 billion outdoor industry appears poised for growth amid renewed interest in multi-use trails. Recent research by PEC indicates trail use is up dramatically statewide, with 2020 traffic surging nearly 200 percent in some areas. This growth has occurred despite a global pandemic and ongoing recession, suggesting untapped potential in currently underserved areas.
Crawford County’s successful grant application was based on a 2019 PEC report identifying critical gaps and infrastructure needs in the Erie to Pittsburgh and PA Wilds Loop trail corridors, including sections of:
• the East Branch Trail between Titusville and Corry
• the Knox & Kane Rail Trail connecting Kane, PA with Kinzua Bridge State Park
• the 105-year-old Brady railroad tunnel along the Armstrong Trail
• the Oil Creek State Park Trail
To date, ARC has invested over $238 million in 293 projects, touching 353 counties across Appalachia since 2015. More information about ARC’s POWER Initiative is available at www.arc.gov/power.
“I congratulate Crawford County and PEC for their POWER award, and commend them on the leadership they have shown in their community,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “POWER grants are playing a critical role in supporting coal-impacted communities in the Appalachian Region as they recover from COVID-19 by building and expanding critical infrastructure and creating new economic opportunities through innovative and transformative approaches. Projects like this are getting Appalachia back to work.”
The Brandywine Conservancy is thrilled to announce its release of Hiking through History, a new informative map that highlights our region’s rich history with the American Revolutionary War, overlapping with the area’s many cultural, recreational and natural attractions. The map’s release coincides with the anniversary of the legendary Battle of Brandywine, fought on September 11, 1777, which marked the first major engagement of the British campaign to capture Philadelphia and the longest single-day battle of the Revolutionary War.
Tracing the entirety of the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777, the Hiking through History map guides users as they hike, bike, drive and explore the region’s Revolutionary War history as it stretches 800 square-miles through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Detailing the troop movements and significant events, while also outlining key recreational opportunities found along the way, the map extends from Elkton, Maryland—where the British landed on August 25, 1777—to the capture of Philadelphia on September 26, 1777, and then northwards to the Valley Forge Encampment on December 19, 1777. Featured along with the troop movements are over 330 miles of regional multi-use trails and greenways, including portions of the 3,000-mile-long East Coast Greenway and the 196-mile Mason-Dixon Trail. More than 25 popular parks and preserves that offer local trails are also included, from interpretive park locations such as the Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford to Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The impact of the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 left an indelible mark on the history and landscape of this region. In particular, the historic lands where the Battle of Brandywine was fought now consist of thousands of acres of preserved open space, publicly accessible trails and parks, as well as farms and residential developments along the Brandywine River in Chester and Delaware Counties. Of those protected open spaces, the Brandywine Conservancy has preserved 500 contiguous acres where some of the fiercest fighting transpired during the Battle of Brandywine, including its recent acquisition of Birmingham Hill—which is currently in the final stages of a master planning process to become the Conservancy’s first publicly accessible preserve.
With the Hiking through History map, the Brandywine Conservancy hopes to provide residents and visitors with a unique tool to experience the recreational opportunities in the Brandywine and Delaware Valley regions, while reliving the “boots on the ground” history of the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 and enjoying the preserved landscapes that represent an important part of American history. Free copies of the map can be picked up inside the Brandywine River Museum of Art’s main lobby entrance in Chadds Ford during normal hours of operation, with additional copies to soon be available at area Visitor Centers once reopened to the public. A PDF download of the map, as well as a link to an interactive online version, can also be found at www.brandywine.org/hiking-through-history.
Hiking through History is a project of the Brandywine Creek Greenway, a regional planning initiative of the Brandywine Conservancy that envisions a 40-mile long conservation and recreation corridor from the City of Wilmington, Delaware to Honey Brook, Pennsylvania. Multiple partners aided the Brandywine Conservancy in the design and development of the map and brochure, including representatives from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia and the Chester County Planning Commission. Hiking through History was made possible by the generous support of the William Penn Foundation as well as the Greater Wilmington, Chester and Delaware County Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
Official construction to create the new multi-use path connecting the Exton Train Station to the Chester Valley Trail, located along Route 100 in West Whiteland Township, is well underway!
The new asphalt path will accommodate both pedestrian and bicycle traffic and allow a safe passageway for pedestrians to get from the Exton Train Station (on Walkertown Road) to the entrance of the Chester Valley Trail on Commerce Drive (Main Street at Exton).
The project will be completed in two phases, with the first phase connecting Exton Train Station to Bartlett Avenue, and the second phase connecting Bartlett Avenue to the Chester Valley Trail.
Currently, the first section of the trail has been paved. Next the contractor will begin the installation of the ADA ramps and pedestrian lighting along the southern half of the trail (phase one); then work on the northern half (phase two) will begin. The trail is expected to be complete by the end of July.
Once finished, the path will feature eight ADA compliant curb ramps, as well as pedestrian lighting, drainage modifications, signing and restriping, and traffic signal modifications.
Bob Dredge, local resident and Chair of Bike Chester County, is incredibly excited about the new trail. “As we continue to build out our trail network throughout the county, it will become increasingly important to connect our main trail arteries, such as the Chester Valley Trail, to where people live, shop, work, and link up with mass transit for ease of use,” explains Bob. “This project is an excellent example of building those critical tributaries.”
In addition to the new trail, Chester County and West Whiteland Township plan to make improvements to the Chester Valley Trail crossing of Route 100 at Commerce Drive as part of the project. The new crosswalk will allow pedestrians to safely cross the busy Route 100 via one crosswalk, rather than the three crosswalks they must currently take.
“This connection is going to be a game changer for the area,” explains Leonard Bonarek from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Bonarek learned of the difficulties of traveling by bicycle to the Exton Train Station (via Route 100) back in 2017 when he assumed he could ride the short distance after an event at the Whiteland Township Center. He was quickly offered a ride by others who knew the route, and soon understood why they advised against it.
“In addition to connecting a major commercial development with a regional rail station, this side path will safely stitch together at least six ‘low-stress islands’ that pedestrians and bicyclists would otherwise have to navigate, and will dramatically improve access to the CVT,” said Bonarek.
Funding for this project has been provided by a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Multimodal Transportation Fund grant, as well as through developer contributions and the West Whiteland Township transportation fund.
The new crossing of Route 100 at Commerce Drive is being funded by the DVRPC Regional Trails Program/William Penn Foundation, PennDOT’s Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) program, and Chester County.
See a map of the new trail here: https://www.westwhiteland.org/DocumentCenter/View/809/CVT-to-Exton-Train-Station-Connector-map-PDF.
For the most up-to-date information on the project, visit https://www.westwhiteland.org/300/Trail-Improvements. Questions can be directed to the West Whiteland Township Public Works Department at 484-875-6020 or by emailing [email protected].
Designed by mountain bikers and built by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County are utilized for recreational activities from mountain biking and hiking, to trail running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Like most trail systems throughout Pennsylvania during the lockdown, Allegrippis Trails experienced a skyrocket in usage this past spring. This higher-than-normal traffic, coupled with downed trees from spring storms, and the prevention of regular trail maintenance gatherings due to COVID-19, created obstacles for trail volunteers to effectively maintain the 36 miles of single-track trails.
The volunteers at Allegrippis Trails however, found a way to make trail maintenance not only manageable, but entirely more efficient with the usage of the Trailforks Mobile App.
Trailforks is a free database encompassing over 130,000 trails that was created primarily for the use of volunteer trail associations. Partly crowd-sourced and partly a moderated site, users of Trailforks contribute to the data within the app, including mapping new trails, taking photos of trails, and submitting trail reports. This in effect, removes the burden on trail associations to have to map IT systems, trail inventory, or reporting. The app also offers features and tools to help promote local clubs, business and trail supporters, and encourages users to join or donate.
“The app has a lot of useful mapping functions for the mountain-biking community, but it’s ability to allow app users to geo-tag and take a picture of a trail issue has been really helpful,” noted Brent Rader, a Friends of Raystown Lake board member as well as Allegrippis Trails volunteer who has been involved with the trails since 2013.
If you’re a trail organization, Brent encourages giving the app a try, as a lot of trail users are already using the app for trails and trail data is readily available. There are also additional apps available for trail usage, with Gearmoose providing a comprehensive list of trail apps and their features. Not all apps can be adapted for trail maintenance; be sure to check each one for usage compatibility.