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Volunteers creating Philpott trails
Jennifer Doss and Bob Weatherall, from right watch Matt Hundley cut a path with a trail-building machine at the Jamison Mill area on Philpott Lake on Saturday. (Contributed photo)
Sunday, January 27, 2008
More than 25 volunteers banded together on Saturday to work more than six hours installing 1,000 feet of trail on a system of trails at the Jamison Mill Recreation area on Philpott Lake.
They began work on what is hoped to be a "destination point" for the shared-use trail system around Philpott Lake in Franklin and Henry counties.
The Army Corps of Engineers and Friends of Philpott are heading up the project and have developed a plan for a system of trails to be used for such activities as mountain biking, hiking and nature observation.
Local clubs and groups taking part in Saturday's work included the Henry County Bike Club, Franklin Free-Wheelers, the Southern Virginia Mountain Bike Association, the Dan River Basin Association, Franklin County Parks and Recreation, and Martinsville Rivers and Trails.
Many of the volunteers used trail-building skills they had learned at two workshops put on by the International Mountain Bike Association in November at Philpott Dam. Activate Martinsville, an initiative by The Harvest Foundation that encourages people to live more healthful lifestyles, helped fund that training.
The planned trail system will be built in multiple phases over several years.
"This is a definite asset to the community for increasing the quality of life for local citizens as well as attracting tourism from other areas," said Linda Drage of Friends of Philpott.
The "shared use" trail concept is the key, according to Mary Lawson, conservation biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It means developing a trail system that can be used for a variety of purposes.
"A destination point is what we are building here at Jamison Mill. This will be a central location that riders, hikers and anyone can come and utilize this resource. You will be able to ride loop trails in this area, hike, fish, camp or just enjoy a day in the woods. Overnight camping will also be available. The corps is interested in helping utilize this resource and make it available to all," Lawson said.
According to Jim Frith of the Henry County Bike Club, the trails are being constructed using techniques that allow for sustainability and minimal environmental impact.
The hope is that an interconnecting system will be completed over a five-year period. The central destination point at Jamison Mill eventually will connect to other recreational areas in a 20-mile-plus system extending from Ryan's Branch to Philpott Dam and connecting Jamison Mill, Horseshoe Point, Twin Ridge, Salthouse Branch, Deer Island and the Philpott Dam tail race area.
Currently, there is a 4.5-mile shared-use trail from the tail race area at the dam to Salthouse Branch.
"Just a year ago there was really only one mountain bike trail available to bikers in the Henry county area and now we have so many possible sites and so many trail building projects. We are going to stay busy for quite a while," said Tommy Smith of the Henry County Bike Club.
The Jamison Mill recreation area was slated by the corps to be closed but with the trail system, the infrastructure will be in place to support local and regional mountain biking activities as well as keeping this area open for public use, according to a release from Brian Williams of the Dan River Basin Association.
"It's amazing to see this many volunteers and so many organizations represented here today. It is definitely a "˜win win' situation for all involved," said Jennifer Doss of the Dan River Basin Association. "This multi agency approach is being used in Henry and other counties as well on various projects from River access to hiking trails and natural preserves available to all," Williams said. "Working together with the local clubs, outdoor associations and county and state government is part of what we do to help increase the available areas for outdoor recreation that will promote an active lifestyle, and improve the quality of life for local communities while increasing tourism and economic growth associated with outdoor recreation."�