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Combined Board Meeting

F3ST met with Friends of Lake James State Park for their August 19 Board Meeting. The meeting started with a tour of the Lake James State Park Visitor Center by Superintendent Nora Coffey. The mall hall entrance of the new visitor center will include the educational exhibits – instead of being stuck in a room that may be missed. FFST will also be in the main hall – lines on the floor will represent different roads and trails.

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Canal Bridge

Even though there are orange feathers on the barrier of the NC 126 bridge, this is not designated FFST – yet. For the State to designate trail, it must be safe for users and this shoulder is not.

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FFST Map – Getting Closer

Thanks to Heather Cotton, City of Marion Planning and Development Director, we are getting closer to an interactive FFST map for the public. Today, land managers came together for Heather to explain what data they could add and edit. Hopefully, in September, you will be able to explore the trail online and then get out on the trail in person! (map shown may not be the final route – just a beta version).

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NC Year of the Trail 2023

North Carolinians have something new to look forward to in 2023. Under the leadership of Representative Dean Arp, R-69 (Union), Representative Hugh Blackwell, R-86 (Burke), Representative Pat Hurley, R-70 (Randolph), Representative Larry Strickland, R-28 (Harnett, Johnston), the NC House and now the NC Senate on August 10, 2021 passed HB 554, designating 2023 as “North Carolina Year of the Trail. This designation is supported by the North Carolina Great Trails State Coalition (of which F3ST is a member) and the group will be spearheading the plans for the year.

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F3ST Wants to Talk to You

F3ST Executive Director Beth Heile loves to talk about the Fonta Flora State Trail. She would love to be a part of your online or in-person meeting. She has spoken to Rotary Clubs, Hiking Groups, and other Civic Clubs. The options are endless – 15 minute power point or 5 minute overview. Just reach out – beth@fontaflorastatetrail.com

 

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Getting to USFS Trails

David Billstrom with Kitsbow Cycling Apparel contacted F3ST about a safer route for bicyclists leaving the Old Fort Ride House and travelling to the USFS Trails on Curtis Creek. With Highway 70 being both busy and narrow, Billstrom thought a better route from the future Fonta Flora State Trail Trailhead and Park (off Lackeytown Rd) should be explored.

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MTA Annual Meeting

The McDowell Trails Association held their annual membership meeting on July 20 at the Joseph McDowell Catawba Greenway Amphitheater. F3ST Executive Director Beth Heile was invited as the guest speaker. In addition to updating MTA on the progress of the Fonta Flora State Trail, Beth thanked MTA for paving the way for F3ST, so to speak.

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Existing Plans

Old Fort Pedestrian Plan

Long before the Fonta Flora State Trail came to be, local governments were already making plans for trails, greenways and sidewalks. A plan can just give a general idea that some paths are needed in certain areas, but they can also have exact route, trail construction details and costs.

Fonta Flora State Trail has 3 Master Plans of 7 sections by Designation by Design. All three plans are found on the linkSection 1: Lake James to Morganton, Section 2: Lake James Loop, Section 3: Lake James to Marion

Marion
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McDowell Trails Committee

The McDowell Trails Committee meets every 2 months to talk about the many greenway/trails initiatives underway and to continue planning future projects. Managers, Councilmen, Parks and Rec, Planning, Trails Groups are all represented. 

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Foothills Conservancy Help

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina is helping move the Fonta Flora State Trail forward by purchasing needed property and holding trail easements. A land trust can move much more quickly that state or local government. FCNC also has a representative on our F3ST Executive Committee and on our F3ST Advisory Council.

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Fonta Flora Flash

We have launched our e-newsletter that will go out every two weeks.

The Fonta Flora Flash will have four stories – one of which will be a new trail segment update.

If you are an F3ST member and we have your email address, the newsletter has been sent. You may need to check your spam or promotions folder to see it.

If you are not on our mailing list, please Subscribe

See past issues

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State Trails Coalition

F3ST President Bob Hunter and F3ST Executive Director Beth Heile have been core members of the Great State Trails Coalition since its inception in February 2020.

The group pushed the NC Year of the Trail 2023 bill that was sponsored by Representative Blackwell – and unanimously  passed. They also provided initial wording for a funding bill sponsored by Representatives Arp and Blackwell.

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More Local Governments on Board

F3ST is grateful for the funding support we received from seven local governments – five by January 2020 and two for July 2021. 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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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.
  • 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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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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State Parks Director Visits Trail

Old Fort Fonta Flora State Trailhead and Park – Future Site

State Parks Director Dwayne Patterson visited Old Fort to see what is happening with the Fonta Flora State Trail. He visited the future trailhead off Lackey Town Road and the Copper Ridge Trail – west of Camp Grier.

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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).