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Litter Sweep

As part of the Burke County Chamber Litter Sweep, Burke River Trail Association is planning trash pickups in all the towns along the Burke River Trail route during the week of March 20-27. The public is invited to join one or more events.

The Chamber will provide trash bags and vests. And thanks to a grant, gloves, snacks and waters will be provided by Burke River Trail Association. BRTA Board Member Melinda Wallrichs applied for and was awarded a Thrivent Action Team Grant. The grants are available to organizations wanting to make an impact on their communities.

Rutherford College – Wed, March 20 at 9am – We will park at Jessica’s Eatery (1311 Malcolm Blvd, Rutherford College, NC 28671). The plan is to clean Malcolm Blvd from Lovelady Rd to Castle Bridge.

Drexel – Thur, March 21 at 9am – We will meet at Downtown Park (201 Church St) and decide where to go. Huffman Bridge Rd and John Berry Rd have been suggested as well as the downtown area. Attendees can choose what area they are comfortable cleaning.

Valdese – Fri, March 22 at 8:30am – Meet at the restrooms at Valdese Lakeside Park (1149 Lake Rhodhiss Dr). The cove around the fishing pier will be the focus of this clean up. It is possible your feet could get wet.

Rhodhiss – Sat, March 23 at 10:30am – Park at Horseshoe Dam Park (on Carolina Avenue) or across the street at Children’s Park. We will gather at the picnic shelter on the hill and from there walk the quarter mile to the Duke Energy Portage/Cove on the lake. It is possible your feet could get wet.

Morganton – Sun, March 24 at 2:00 pmRocky Ford Access (35.771087, -81.691568 – Hwy 64/NC 18/Lenoir Rd at Bridge) is our meeting and cleaning location. This is the gravel parking area at end of the Morganton Greenway. Following this cleanup, there will be a 3 mile walk along the greenway at 3pm for those interested.

Hildebran – Mon, March 25 at 9am – We are going to meet at Hardee’s located at 324 S Center St, Hildebran, NC 28637 (please park away from the doors) and clean 4th Avenue SW.

Connelly Springs – Tues, March 26 at 9amFaith Community Church (2670 Shady Grove Rd) will allow us to park in their lot. We will clean Shady Grove Rd for as long as time allows.

Glen Alpine – Wed, March 27 at 9am – Watermill Access (744 Watermill Glen Alpine Rd, Morganton, NC 28655) is the area where we will meet and clean.

Long View – Wed, March 27 at 1pm – We will meet at Market Fresh IGA 3339 1st Ave SW Hickory, NC 28602 – please park away from the entrance. The target for cleaning is Hwy 70A.

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Rhodhiss Workshop

There was an incredible turnout for the Rhodhiss Trail Workshop. Business owners, landowners, aldermen and residents met at the Scout Building to share ideas. Shelly Gref who owns the Copper Penny Grill – Lake Hickory said she would will allow trail between the restaurant and water. She also shared the story of how her Rutherford location and Forest City location are now connected by trail and what a benefit it is to have that regional trail as a draw.

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Glen Alpine Park

A community park has been on Glen Alpine’s wish list for a long time. Burke River Trail Association Executive Director Beth Heile shared with Glen Alpine Town Aldermen that thanks to a directed state grant from Rep Blackwell, the park is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Glen Alpine Community Park and Trailhead Rendering by Equinox Environmental
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Sharing Success

BRTA Executive Director Beth Heile shared the story of the economic development opportunities found along the Burke River Trail route with The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Community Investment Training participants to help others spot worthy projects in their community. BRTA will receive a small grant for Beth’s time.

Beth participated in this investment training as a student last year and received an award for her presentation about Rhodhiss Revitalization.

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Morganton Greenway Extension

Mayor Ronnie Thompson has included the Morganton Greenway Extension in his State of the City talks to civic groups to start off 2024. This extension to the east is the Burke River Trail. Picking up at Rocky Ford Access (where the paved greenway stops) eventually trail will cover about 3 miles in the city’s jurisdiction. An update to the trail head is also in the works (shown below).

Currently an uneven gravel parking lot, Rocky Ford access is home to the Morganton Greenway, Fonta Flora State Trail, Overmountain Victory Trail, Mountain Bike Trails and soon Burke River Trail. Updates would include a paved parking area, restrooms, kayak launch and picnic tables.

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Connelly Springs Workshop

Lindy’s Discount Furniture was the perfect place for sharing ideas on what sites should be highlighted along trails in Town of Connelly Springs, NC. Some suggestions included the old hotel and spring, a second hotel and spring, Israel Chapel, Hudson cemetery, Chicken in the Basket (the longest open restaurant in the same building in NC), the Knob, cool views on the south side of I-40, stage coach road, Pottery Curve, the old store that is now moved onto Hudson property and more. Even if a structure no longer exists a kiosk can be put in the place telling the history for future generations!!

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Burke Trail Partners Share Updates and Ideas

What is becoming a twice a year event, the organizations responsible for getting trail on the ground in Burke County met to share updates on planning and building trail. Representatives from local governments and nonprofits submitted three slides in advance and had four minutes to provide updates during the first half of the meeting followed by general strategy discussions.

Attendees included those responsible for 3 of the 4 State Trails in Burke County (Fonta Flora State Trail, Overmountain Victory State Trail, Wilderness Gateway State Trail), the 2 large multi hundred-acre parks (Oak Hill Park, Valdese Lakeside Park), a regional trail (Burke River Trail), municipal greenways (Morganton and Valdese) and a trails planner from NC State Parks. Discover Burke County Tourism staff were present to make sure that they had all the latest information to share with visitors stopping in their office.

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Grant for Predevelopment in Rhodhiss

As more and more trails are built across the state, studies show that a trail can be much more than just a health and recreation amenity. It can drive economic development. Beth Heile, president of the Burke River Trail Association, has found that to be true working on the Burke River Trail route through each small town in eastern Burke County. Heile has uncovered several potential projects for housing, retail, restaurants and outdoor recreation businesses.

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Passenger Train

Burke River Trail Association’s main focus is getting trail on the ground to provide economic development opportunities in eastern Burke County. With supporting economic drivers as a goal – we follow, get involved and promote all opportunities. We are making sure any town involved with the Salisbury to Asheville passenger rail service is staying up to date!!

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Old Glory Mill – Trail and More

BRTA President Beth Heile was selected to be a part of the Mountain Bizworks Investment Framers Cohort. Participants were chosen from the 25 counties in western NC to learn how to spot an opportunity, put together stakeholders, find funding and take the project to completion.

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Burke Trails Summit

Staying in your own lane is not conducive for getting trail on the ground.

With over two hundred miles of trail on the ground in Burke County and many more miles planned, the nonprofits, agencies and local governments that are responsible for our public trails have learned that crossing lanes to collaborate helps to get trail on the ground faster.

As Beth Heile started talking to local governments and trail nonprofits about co-location and intersecting with the Burke River Trail, she knew others were having the same separate conversations regarding different trail alignments. To make sure everyone in the county was on the same page knowing what is coming down the pike, Heile organized a Burke County Trails Summit for the people planning, building, and overseeing trails.

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Trail Public Input Meetings

Drexel Input Meeting. Photo Cred: The Paper

Finding the route for a public trail takes a lot of planning and input. From where beautiful sections are located to where there are willing landowners. To find that perfect path, 7 public input meetings were held from February to April in Glen Alpine, Drexel, Rutherford College, Connelly Springs, Rhodhiss, Long View, Hildebran. A big thanks goes to each of the municipalities for organizing the meeting space and publicizing the events. Average attendance was 20 people.

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Trail on Private Land

How does public trail end up on a private landowner’s property?

Through a trail easement agreement that is recorded with the property deed.

The following information will help a landowner know a little more about the process and help with deciding to allow trail on their land.

Landowners – Trail FAQ Download

What are you asking from landowners?

We are asking landowners to work with us to connect existing sections of trail. We are happy to work with you to find a route through your property that is suitable to you. We are willing to acquire the trail through acquisition of narrow portions of the property for the trail or through right-of-way easements. We can discuss the benefits of each of these options in detail with you. The choice is yours – allowing trail will not be forced.

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Crime on Trails

A frequent question when discussing trails along individual homeowners’ properties is about crime on trails. Studies show that is not a problem.

  • Self-Policing –  Trails & Greenways attract local residents who use the facility frequently and randomly
  • Decrease Crime – Studies show less crime on trails than in the communities as a whole.
  • Litter and Lack of LeashMost common problems with public trails are litter, unauthorized motorized vehicles & unleashed pets.
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Wildcat Way

While the Valdese Greenway is the first 2 miles of Burke River Trail on the ground, Wildcat Way is the first section build specifically to extend and to be a part of the Burke River Trail.

First the school board had to agree. Talks about this went back to June 2020, when the foundation of trail was laid during talks with Town of Valdese, BCPS (facilities, school board and administration) and a property developer.

Talks were a little more formalized in January 2022 with the new BCPS Superintendent Mike Swan and Commissioner Scott Mulwee. At this meeting, the discussion was held about the April 4, Beth presented at the BoE work session. Later came for a vote.

Outdoor Classroom?? Wetlands Study?? Getting there…
In April 2022, we had a meeting with BCPS Board of Education Chair Wendi Craven, DHS Principal Jeanene Fletcher Burris, Director of Auxiliary Services Dr Bob Acord and BC Soil and Water. With plans in the works for a natural surface trail on the BCPS property, Ms. Craven wanted to look into the possibility of educational opportunities along the trail. The trail – Wildcat Way – will be open to the public in late Spring – and then we will start looking at those educational features!!

From October, 2022 to February, 2023, volunteers worked to build the 4 foot wide natural surface trail. Zakk Heile and Tim Johnson flagged the trail route. Since Town of Valdese will be holding the trail easement and the trail will be in Valdese, Friends of the Valdese Rec paid for the excavator rental to cut in the trail. FVR and community volunteers did the finishing work.

At this time 4 Corners Land Surveying is doing a formal survey of the trail for the easement agreement. The survey will show the exact path of the trail with 12.5 feet on each side. Once completed this survey will be filed with the trail easement agreement as part of the deed and the trail will be open for public use.

 

 

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Rocky Ford – Where it all Comes Together

Partnerships make trails happen and Rocky Ford access in Morganton is the perfect location to showcase partnerships in action. Members the nonprofit, business and local government worlds came together to tell the story with a Hike & Learn.

The event organized by Beth Heile, past president of Friends of Fonta Flora State Trail, is part of an ongoing series Heile started in 2021 to highlight Fonta Flora State Trail sections that are on the ground, educate the community about how the section came to exist and have lunch at a local establishment emphasizing the economic impact trails bring.  Thirteen local hikers gathered at the gravel parking area off Lenoir Road/NC 18 N to hear updates on the trail activity that includes two state trails, a regional trail, a local greenway and a mountain bike trail system. It all started 30 years ago with the City of Morganton Greenway.

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Wildlife Official Visits Burke River Trail Sites

Ashton Godwin, Legislative Liaison with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), spent a day away from his Raleigh office touring water access sites located along a planned regional pedestrian trail in Burke County. Rep Hugh Blackwell had several meetings in Raleigh with Godwin to discuss to discuss potential trailhead sites for the Burke River Trail (BRT), but Blackwell thought it was advantageous for Godwin to visit Burke County with him to get a first-hand look.

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Burke River Trail at a Glance

One page says it all – Trail Coordinator Beth Heile created this graphic to explain the trail in one page. She also has a complete slide show and is available to present at meetings of civic groups, local governments and more!

At this time, 4 mile segments in Morganton, Valdese and Rhodhiss are almost pinned down (with 2 miles complete in Valdese).

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BCPS Property

(l-r) BCPS Auxiliary Services Director Dr. Bob Acord, BCPS Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan, local trail advoacte Beth Heil, Representative Hugh Blackwell, DHS Principal Jeanene Burris, BCPS Board Chair Wendi Craven, BCPS Assistant Superintendent Dr. Karen Auton, Burke County Commissioner Chair Scott Mulwee

Burke County Public School Board of Education (BCPS BOE) owns acreage along the corridor in Valdese north of Draughn High School (DHS). In a meeting at the school, stakeholders discussed the options for the trail to cross the property. One option is to combine the property with Valdese Lakeside Park and the other is to provide a trail easement. The trail easement allows hikers to access the property but takes away the school’s liability. A non-profit or local government would hold the easement.

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Morganton – Grace Ridge Meeting

Steps are continuing to plan the Burke River Trail from the end of the Fonta Flora State Trail (end of the Morganton Greenway) to the north side of Grace Ridge. An MOU is being prepared to allow City of Morganton engineers on the property to determine a feasible route. Then a trail easement can be drawn up with a more precise location of the trail on the property.