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Old Fort Receives Trailhead Grant

The N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) has awarded the Town of Old Fort $330,000 for the Old Fort Fonta Flora Trailhead and Park. A local match of $330,000 is required and being covered by McDowell County, Old Fort, Community Donors, and McDowell Trails Association. Amenities will include a dog park, paved 0.25 mile section of Fonta Flora State Trail, restrooms, parking, picnic pavilion, and event lawn.

Early in 2021, Friends of the Fonta Flora State Park organized a steering committee made up of community members to work on the trailhead and park concept. Members suggested amenities and a layout that would benefit citizens, appeal to tourists and capitalize on all the trails in area – the FFST, Catawba Falls and those from The G5 Trail Collective.

With a draft design in place, presentations were made to McDowell Trails Association, People on the Move Old Fort, the Community Forum and Rotary Club of Marion to get their feedback.

Destination by Design was hired by The Town of Old Fort and the McDowell Tourism Development Authority to design for the Old Fort FFST Trailhead and Park based on ideas from the steering committee.

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Copper Ridge Celebration

Celebrate a future section of the Fonta Flora State Trail in Old Fort! October 7 – Come at 2:30pm to hear from some of the partners that helped build it. At 3:00pm guests can follow FCNC staff to the trailhead (just a few minutes down the road) for a hike on the new section. Can’t make it on Oct 7 – join F3ST and FCNC for a Copper Ridge Hike & Learn on November 6.

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Committees Open to Public

To ensure F3ST continues to thrive, we are forming three new committees that are open to board members, advisory council members and the community. If you have an interest in getting involved with F3ST in this way, let Beth know.

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F3ST Rack Cards

Instead of a brochure with an FFST map of trailheads that will be out of date before printed, F3ST went with a rack card with a QR Code to access our Trail Access Page. The cards have been distributed to area tourism, chamber sites and local businesses. Want some for your place? Just let us know and we will deliver them!!

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FFST Land Manager Meeting

F3ST organized a meeting with FFST Land Managers and Smith Raynor, State Trails Planner for an overview of the state trail process. The goal was to make sure everyone understands what is expected in planning state trail, building state trail and having it designated. For example, what forms are required, what visits are needed and when, when trails can be marked as state trail, etc.
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County Officials Tour LJSP VC

Burke and McDowell County Officials toured the new Lake James State Park Visitor Center with Superintendent Coffey. The Fonta Flora State Trail will cross the 250-foot Cove Bridge and enter the Visitor Center.

McDowell County: Cheryl Mitchell, Clerk to the Board, Ashley R. Wooten, County Manager, Tony G. Brown, Commissioner Chairman and Burke County Bryan Steen, County Manager, Johnnie Carswell, Commissioner, Kay Draughn, Clerk to the Board

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Podcast Featuring F3ST

Executive Director Beth Heile was the guest of the popular podcast Exploration Local. She spoke about the goal to get the 100-mile Fonta Flora State Trail completed in 10 years, the efforts to get state funding and where you can explore the trail right now.

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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.