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By: Sutton StokesOctober 17, 2022

City of Elkins Awarded $50,000 for Trail Planning from ARC POWER Initiative

Funds EAST Trail Master Plan for bike-optimized trails throughout Randolph County

City of Elkins, part of a collaborative known as Elkins Area Shared Trails (EAST), has been awarded $50,000 by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for a project to develop a plan and blueprint for bike-optimized trails on five properties throughout Randolph County.

The EAST Trail Master Plan will also survey up to 10 miles of trail and conduct preliminary site planning for a community bike-skills area to build the region’s outdoor tourism economy. The goal of the project is to lay the groundwork for a network of multi-purpose trails to capitalize on the strong cycling and outdoor recreation culture of the nearby Mon National Forest.

The EAST Collaborative, which also includes the West Virginia University Brad & Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, Davis & Elkins College, Davis Health System, and others, hopes that the creation of a master trail plan for the Randolph County area will serve as a pilot project and shared learning opportunity for the 11 other communities that are, like Elkins, part of the Mon Forest Towns Partnership. The partnership plans to share its experience with the wider community by August 2023.

This award is part of a recently announced nearly $47 million package supporting 52 projects in 181 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which directs federal resources to economic diversification projects in Appalachian communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries. This is the largest single POWER awards package to date since the initiative launched in 2015.

“Our coal-impacted communities are a vital part of Appalachia’s 13 states and 423 counties—when our coal communities thrive, our entire region is uplifted,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “This latest round of POWER grant funding will not only help struggling coal communities to once again compete in a global marketplace, but also expand support for the creation of new jobs through growing Appalachia’s food economy.”

“City of Elkins and its partners in the EAST collaborative know that robust outdoor recreation infrastructure and opportunities are a key driver of economic development and population growth in communities like ours,” said Jessica Sutton, the Elkins city clerk and the city’s representative on the collaborative. “The trail planning that our ARC POWER Initiative grant award will fund is a significant step forward in attracting new residents, new businesses, and new investment to our community.”

Including today’s award package, ARC has invested nearly $366.6 million in 447 projects impacting 360 coal-impacted counties since POWER was established in 2015. A new evaluation conducted by Chamberlain/Dunn indicates that a majority of POWER projects met or exceeded output and outcome targets, with ARC’s investments projected to have helped create or retain more than 39,600 jobs and prepare over 100,000 workers and students for new opportunities in entrepreneurship, broadband, tourism, and other growing industries.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

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