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More Local Governments on Board

F3ST is grateful for the funding support we received from five local governments by January 2020. In addition, F3ST has been included in the 2021 budgets of two more. These contributions are key in enabling our non-profit to operate through the end of the year with a part time executive director, which will in turn ensure our success.

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Strategic Meetings Complete

Getting a 100 mile trail completed in 10 years takes some planning. F3ST knows that and State Parks Trails Planner Smith Raynor knows that. With both wanting a schedule of trail roll out, strategic planning meetings started in March and finished in June. F3ST organized the meetings with each local government to discuss the Fonta Flora State Trail corridor in their jurisdiction and identify their top three priority segments.

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Asheville Trail Planning

As the Fonta Flora State Trail runs from Morganton to Asheville, so did our strategic planning sessions, with our final meeting being in Asheville. As a bonus, the meeting was held in the River Arts District beside the Wilma Dykeman Greenway – where the FFST will end.

The 7.5 mile Swannanoa River Greenway will be a part of the FFST. This is broken into 3 sections for planning – Biltmore to Tunnel Road, Tunnel Road to Azalea Park, Azalea Park to City Line. Completing the trail is now about time and money.

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Spring Hike & Learn Complete

The Spring Hike & Learn Series ran April through June. Each event started with a Learn by hearing from trail or conservation experts,  moved on to a moderate 3-4 mile Hike, and ended with Lunch and Shopping from a local businesses (see Economic Impact).

Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail also presented the progress of the trail and how the community can help.

Events were held in Burke County, Old Fort, Black Mountain and Marion. Many attendees made it to 3 of the 4 events and developed friendships along the way. Stay tuned for our Fall Series.

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Hike & Learn Marion

Hike & Learn with McDowell Trails Association – along the Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway in Marion – which is designated FFST. Participants started Freddy Bradburn music at the Greenway Amphitheater. For the learn, Beth provided an F3ST update, Steve Pierce recognized MTA Board Members and presented greenway plans. For the hike, folks walked the Greenway and observed Riverbank Stabilization, Round Hill Historical Cemetery, bridge replacement site. Lunch followed at J Hartman’s.

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Accomplishments with Exec Director

Wonder what gets done once you have an Executive Director? Here is what F3ST has accomplished since Beth Heile was hired with a February 1 start date.

Strategic Planning Sessions with Municipalities and Counties

  • We gathered planners, managers, trail groups and the like to sit down to look at maps, discuss the routes and the priorities. Four meetings have been held and the final with Asheville will be on June 10.
  • The result will be a map showing the trail status (completed, in the planning, seeking funding and the like) for the public and grant administrators. Due date: May 27
  • Each jurisdiction is also providing their top 3 priority sections, so we are ready if funding becomes available whether for planning or construction.
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Trails – Economic Benefit

Trails generate substantial economic benefits. In western North Carolina, studies have shown an outdoor enthusiast will spend $50 on a day trip for food, gas and other items.

The F3ST Spring Hike & Learn Series was not just about exploring the Fonta Flora State Trail, it was to also to model a regular person’s hiking outing.  A hiker or biker may want to learn about the area (we included that), hit the trail (we did that) and take in the local scene by visiting shops, restaurants and breweries (we did that).

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State Parks Director to Old Fort

State Parks Director Dwayne Patterson visited Old Fort to see what is happening with the Fonta Flora State Trail.

F3ST President Bob Hunter, picture here between Deputy State Parks Director Brian Strong and State Parks Director Dwayne Patterson, explains where the FFST will cross the Old Fort Park and Trailhead. Other attendees include Tome Kenney, FCNC, Kim Effler, McDowell Chamber and Mavis Gragg, PARTF member.