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Designating State Trail

Talking about the grade of a section of trail – Brittany (FCNC), Kat (NC Parks), Jen (F3ST), Beth (F3ST) and Smith (NC Parks)

NC State Trails Planner Smith Raynor was in Old Fort to start the process of designating a new section of FFST. There is a little more paperwork to do before it is official. Thanks to Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina for acquiring the property and building the trail.

What is a State Trail?

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McDowell Strategic Planning

F3ST is working on a Strategic Planning for the entire trail to make sure we are on track to complete the trail in 10 years!

The end result will be one map and spreadsheet showing trail on the ground, trail planned (with year start) and trail under construction. This map will be a tremendous benefit to us all in promoting, fundraising and securing grants for the trail.

Pictured: Bob Hunter, President F3ST and Steve Pierce, President McDowell Trails Association and F3ST Board Member.

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To Downtown Morganton

At the December 2019 City of Morganton Council meeting, a construction contract was awarded for a one-mile paved path from the existing Catawba River Greenway (designated FFST) at Catawba Meadows Park to downtown along Green Street. It is scheduled to be completed in January 2022.

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Glen Alpine Ready for FFST

Town of Glen Alpine Mayor Bob Benfield and Clerk Melissa Lalonde are excited about the Fonta Flora State Trail (FFST) coming to the small town. Once home to the largest wooden structure in North Carolina, The Glen Alpine Springs Hotel, Glen Alpine is now a bedroom community. Benfield and Lalonde believe the trail will breathe new life into the town. Whether the FFST will be on the north or south side of the Catawba River near Glen Alpine has not been determined. Either way, Representative Blackwell suggested a loop trail from the main FFST to Linville Street in downtown Glen Alpine. This street houses a bicycle shop, a drug store and has store fronts fitted for a restaurant and an ice cream shop. Mayor Benfield said the town is looking at grant opportunities for trail construction and will work to include a loop instead of an out and back. Rep Blackwell and local trail advocate Beth Heile have now met with all Burke County municipalities to discuss trails as an economic development opportunity. In 2015, Rep Blackwell was the primary sponsor of the bill that created the Fonta Flora State Trail. Last year, Mayor Benfield became a board member of the newly formed Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail.

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Supporting Municipalities

F3ST is grateful for the funding support we have received so far from local governments. The early leaders are

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Foothills Conservancy – Old Fort

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina has been organizing volunteer workdays to get this 3-mile section ready. They acquired property in Old Fort and transferred it to North Carolina State Parks and Recreation. Soon to be part of the Fonta Flora State Trail, you can hike or bike this section in Old Fort starting in March. Partnerships make things happen!

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Old Fort Trailhead Plan

The planning process has started on the Old Fort Trailhead and Park that will be located just north of I-40 on property purchased by the state with Connect NC Bond money. Old Fort Alderman Andrew Carlton, McDowell County Planner Blair Melton, F3ST President Bob Hunter and F3ST Executive Director Beth Heile met with Eric Woolridge of Destinations by Design to discuss amenities needed and next steps.

$300,000 has be raised to use for a grant match. $100,00 from each: Old Fort, McDowell County, a private donor

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Heile named Executive Director

Beth Heile has been named Executive Director of Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail, Inc. Judge Bob Hunter, President of F3ST, said “Having an Executive Director will provide the constant driving force behind our mission, ensuring a strong “friends” group to provide relentless advocacy, leadership, fundraising, and outreach.” The group has asked for funding from municipalities and counties until we receive full funding from the State of NC.

Heile is known a local trail advocate having started Friends of the Valdese Rec to help the Town of Valdese acquire 300 acres for Valdese Lakeside Park and working on the Catawba River Trail which will follow south of the river from Morganton to Long View.