Narrows, VA (May 2, 2014) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) will celebrate the signing of an easement across a portion of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in Giles County, Virginia during a dedication ceremony on May 23, 2014. The event, located at 3520 Virginia Ave. Narrows, VA, will begin at 9:30 a.m.
The easement was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the ATC, Columbia Gas of Virginia, Columbia Gas Transmission, Celanese Corporation, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech, and local governments. Celanese has generously donated the easement across 2.5 miles of the A.T.
Key speakers at the ceremony will include David Ferguson and Tom Speaks, both from the United States Forest Service; Laura Belleville, ATC’s director of conservation; and a representative from Columbia Gas.
The final alignment of the A.T. in Giles County had remained unresolved due to challenges with Trail design, land ownership, and hiker safety issues. The current footpath location is on private property owned by Celanese and is open only at the discretion of the landowner. The current route parallels US 460, passes by Celanese’s manufacturing plant, provides minimal recreational or scenic values, is difficult to maintain and poses a barrier to certain land uses.
Through the collaborative efforts of the U.S. Forest Service and the ATC, in negotiation with the managers of Celanese and the local community and government, a new alternative route was identified on the Celanese property that provides a scenic and safe route from the New River to the summit of Peters Mountain. The new route alleviates impacts to adjacent private landowners, and minimizes the impact from nearby manufacturing operations.
The completed Trail will provide the local community with a much improved recreational experience. The proposed new A.T. route crosses the New River and U.S. 460 and immediately enters the woods. The new Trail will follow the New River for approximately one mile, offering scenic vistas of the river below before ascending a ridgeline onto Hemlock Ridge through terrain that provides a more remote experience and minimizes conflicts with Celanese’s operations. As it ascends Peters Mountain, it affords spectacular vistas of the surrounding terrain.
This final protected section of footpath represents a monumental milestone as the A.T. management partnership can now fully apply its resources toward the protection of critical viewsheds, improvements to trail sustainability and expanding the corridor of A.T. lands. A $40,000 grant from Columbia Gas of Virginia and Columbia Gas Transmission will allow the ATC to complete this capstone Trail project. The ATC plans to build the 2.5 miles of new Trail this spring and open this final section as quickly as possible, providing access to visitors from the local community, across the U.S., and around the world.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park Service, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,185 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
Contact: Javier Folgar
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 304.535.2200 x117
Email: [email protected]