Looking for cash

Cheat River Trail Proponents Seek County’s Aid

Morgantown Dominion Post
15 October 2012
By Michelle Wolford

KINGWOOD — Volunteers working on a Cheat River water trail have applied for state recognition, which they hope will open the door to grant money. They’d also like some county help.

Amanda Pitzer, executive director of Friends of the Cheat (FOC), said volunteers have been meeting for much of the year “on designating sections as a water trail — a trail for boats.” She addressed Preston County Commissioners recently and asked them to endorse the new initiative.

She said FOC will also meet with Tucker County commissioners since the trail begins above Parsons.

The goal is state and national designation, she said, and funding. That requires proof of local support.

Preston County Commissioners will consider a resolution to support the designation of the Cheat River Water Trail System at their meeting at 9:30 a.m. today.

“If the county would commit some money to this project, it would be a boon to us in getting funds from other entities,” Pitzer said. “To get both commissions engaged will go a long way in moving the project forward.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior recently established the National Water Trails System — a class of recreation trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968. Such a designation acknowledges recreational value, “but also the excellent stewardship of the state, local communities and other partners who maintain their natural beauty and integrity,” according to FOC’s application to the state for designation.

State designation opens the door to grant funding through the Department of Transportation. That money could go toward signage and maps of the water trail, and other means of encouraging tourism. Pitzer said she hopes to have signs up by spring.

“The river is there and you can go paddle it now, but we want signage and we want to market it and that’s going to take some money,” she said.

“We don’t want to tell people what they can or can’t do with their land,” she said.

Copies of the committee’s draft designation document, which has been submitted and accepted by the West Virginia Recreational Trails Advisory Board, is posted at the Preston County Commission office, Preston

The initial trail runs from Hendricks, above Parsons in Tucker County, to the Rowlesburg Park, a distance of 38.1 miles. Nine access points have been identified thus far; seven are in Tucker County.

Public meetings are being planned to encourage support for the water trail and allow for community input. She said FOC is working with private landowners on some of the access points.

“A water trail on the Cheat River will allow individuals of limited paddling abilities to experience one of West Virginia’s most scenic rivers,” said Frank Jernejcic, District Fishery Biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, in the release.

“The Cheat is a gem and it’s underutilized,” Pitzer said. “We want to show people the river is more than whitewater.” County Courthouse, Kingwood City Hall; Kingwood Public Library, Rowlesburg Town Hall, Rowlesburg Post Office and Albright Town Hall.

The document is available online at http://www.cheatriverwatertrail.org