The 20-mile Burke River Trail will pick up at the end of the Catawba River Greenway in Morganton and follow the south side of river going through (or connecting to) Drexel, Valdese, Rutherford College, Connelly Springs, Rhodhiss, Hildebran and Long View. The trail will be a mix of natural surface, crushed cinder and paved.
Western Piedmont Council of Governments (specifically, Averi Ritchie and Todd Stroupe) led the trail feasibility study that has wrapped up after 3 online meetings, 10 site visits and an in-person public input session. Beth Heile, Friends of the Valdese Rec President, is continuing to coordinate efforts among stakeholders. Representative Blackwell first presented the idea for the trail and has been instrumental in uncovering consulting assistance, meeting with stakeholders and contacting agencies impacted by the trail (NCWRC, Duke Energy, etc).
Trails generate economic activity, provide bike and pedestrian transportation, improve citizen health and are better for the environment than other development options. Communities along the trail are eager for these benefits to come their way. Each municipality will have direction over their trail segment and can highlight what makes their area special. In addition to being “Nature’s Playground,” Burke County is “All About Advancing” and this trail plays into both of those themes.
Other Connections: The Catawba River Trail (green dots) will connect to or cross 3 State Trails: Fonta Flora State Trail (purple dash west to Lake James), the Wilderness Gateway State Trail (large pink dot SMSP to Valdese) and the Overmountain National Historic Trail (pink/purple dash). Huge loop opportunity!
Also co-locates with many Upper Catawba River Paddle Trail access points.
Action Items and Meeting Summaries
- Representative Blackwell contacted Burke County and WPCOG for direction (Jan-Feb 2020) Present at Burke County meeting: Rep Blackwell, Beth Heile, Shane Prisby, Scott Carpenter
- Initial Map created by Shane Prisby, Burke County (Jan 2020)
- WPCOG Planners Alison Adams and John Wear and FVR President Beth Heile created list of stakeholders and developed starting plan (Apr 2020)
- Letter sent to 3 owners of 5 tracts along possible route to share trail objective – Beth Heile, FVR (May 2020)
- E-mail sent to town managers about trail – Beth Heile, FVR (May 2020)
- WPCOG will hold stakeholders meeting in July – John Wear, WPCOG will organize/lead
- Meeting at VLP – present: Doug Setzer – BCPS Director of Auxililary Services, Wendi Craven – BCPS Board of Education, Averi Ritchie – WPCOG Pla
nner, Larry Bragg – Natural Land Alliance, Representative Hugh Blackwell, Scott Carpenter – Deputy Burke County Manager, Doug Knight – Valdese Parks and Recreation Director, Shane Gardner – Principal DHS, Doug Hallyburton – Assistant Principal/Athletic Director, Beth Heile – Friends of the Valdese Rec (June 22, 2020) Summary
- Pre-Stakeholders Meeting to review maps – Todd Stroupe, John Wear, Averi Ritchie, Alsion Adams, Taylor Dellinger, Beth Heile – (July 1)
- Stakeholders Meeting #1 – via Zoom – Present: From WPCOG – Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe, Johnny Wear, Alison Adams, Taylor Dellinger, Brian Horton), Representative Hugh Blackwell, Doug Setzer – BCPS Director of Auxililary Services, Scott Carpenter – Deputy Burke County Manager, Shane Prisby, Burke County, Beth Heile – Friends of the Valdese Rec, Katherine Christie (Burke Tourism), Sherri Bradshaw (Drexel Town Manager), Logan Shook (Hildebran Town Manager), FVR Trail Blazers – Reed Farrar, Zakk Heile – Todd Stroupe presented the study area and scoring used to rank parcels. Attendees discussed overall goal of path and possible routes. (July 29th)
- Rutherford College Segment Meeting – Representative Blackwell, Mayor Gary McClure, Kenneth Geathers, Jr., Beth Heile, Averi Ritchie, John Wear, Todd Stroupe (August 17) Summary
- Stakeholders Meeting #2 – via Zoom – Map Presented and Photo Slides of stops/problem areas discussed – Present: From WPCOG – Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe, Johnny Wear, Taylor Dellinger; Representative Hugh Blackwell, Doug Setzer – BCPS Director of Auxililary Services, Shane Prisby, Burke County, Beth Heile – Friends of the Valdese Rec, Katherine Christie (Burke Tourism), Logan Shook (Hildebran Town Manager), Rick Justice (Rhodhiss Town Manager), Brittany Watkins (Foothills Conservancy of NC), Doug Knight (Valdese Parks & Recreation), FVR Trail Blazers – Reed Farrar, Zakk Heile (August 19, 2020)
- Rhodhiss Segment Meeting – Representative Blackwell, Town Manager Rick Justice, Beth Heile, Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe (August 24) Summary
- Hildebran Segment Meeting – Representative Blackwell, Town Manager Logan Shook, Beth Heile, Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe, Erin Schotte (August 26) Summary
- Town of Drexel Meeting – Manager Sherri Bradshaw, Representative Blackwell, Beth Heile, Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe. (Sept 9) Summary
- City of Morganton Meeting – Manager Sally Sandy, Morganton Parks and Rec Director Rob Winkler, Development & Design Services Director Phillip Lookadoo, Project Designer Michael Berley, Richard Smith, Civil Design Technician III, Mark Hall, Civil Design Technician II,Representative Blackwell, Beth Heile, Todd Stroupe. (Sept 9) Summary
- Long View, Connelly Springs, Vulcan, Morganton Wastewater Plan (Sept 16) – Rep Blackwell, Beth, Todd, Averi Summary
- Stakeholders Meeting #3 – via Zoom – Sept 30 9:00 am Present: From WPCOG – Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe, Johnny Wear, Taylor Dellinger, Alison Adams; Representative Hugh Blackwell, Doug Setzer – BCPS Director of Auxililary Services, Brittany Watkins – FCNC, Sherri Bradshaw – Drexel, Michael Berley – Morganton, Tamara Brookes – Connelly Springs
- Public Input Meeting Oct 14 – outside at Connelly Springs Pavilion – attendees – Averi Ritchie, Todd Stroupe, Rep. Blackwell, President Beth Heile, Scott Carpenter, Katherine Christie, Tim Johnson, Bryant and Linda Lindsey, Rick Justice, Tamara Brooks, Eli Self, Shane Gardner, Brandon Wykle, Susan Stevenson, Chip Black, Doug Knight, Val Scott, Rick Pons and Mike Bachelder, Tyler Tilley, Nancy Thompson Summary
What happens after the feasibility study?
- It is up to each municipality to continue to work on their segment and hold trail easements (Sample Greenway Easement)
- Beth Heile, Friends of the Valdese Rec President, is currently coordinating efforts among stakeholders.
- Todd Stroupe with WPCOG will update the map as needed
- COG is willing to help with grant assistance as long as admin time can be programmed into the grant.
- Greenways: Landowner Considerations In Making Land Available For Public Use
- Permits – Shoreline Activities
- Shoreline Management
Segments: Regional trails are often built in segments as stakeholders along the path are able to contribute and as right of ways are obtained. With Valdese Lakeside Park’s 2-mile greenway being engineered, one segment can be announced – McGalliard Falls Park to Valdese Lakeside Park. Growing from there to the east, the potential exists to work with Burke County BOE and Draughn High School and then Natural Land Alliance, Inc. This gives a 4-mile segment to branch out from.
Starting Map that got the ball rolling: (working title was the Burke River Trail)