Professional trail builders gather at Stonewall

ROANOKE – Stonewall Resort State Park in Lewis County has received a number of improvements recently, thanks to nearly 300 people who attended a global gathering for professional trail builders.

Seven countries and 44 U.S. states sent 286 representatives to the Professional Trail Builder Association conference, a six-day, hands-on working and instruction event held at Stonewall Resort March 31-April 5. Saturday, April 5, was a volunteer work and training day that involved planning, building and improving recreation trails.

The group constructed several hundred feet of new trails, a boardwalk over a wet area and performed rehabilitation of other areas at the Lewis County destination. The construction and rehabilitation projects were both training for attendees and needed improvements on the park.

“Trails are an important tourism focus,” said Sam England, Stonewall superintendent and one of 10 West Virginia state parks superintendents who also attended the conference. “Trails also provide access areas for physical activity such as hiking and biking.

“Maintaining trails preserves habitat from overuse, and development of trails creates interest in exploring woodland, fields and stream areas. This conference and the practical application of what participants learned in the classroom were important learning experiences for everyone involved.”

West Virginia’s state park system maintains more than 800 miles of hiking and biking trails, the Greenbrier River Trail and North Bend Rail Trail. State parks and forests often rely on volunteer groups and organizations for labor assistance and some funding support.

Funding for materials for this Professional Trail Builder Association conference came from local sources, the material manufacturers, the Stonewall Foundation and a Division of Highways Recreation Trails Program Grant.