Home Money Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia continues work on Baileys Trail

Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia continues work on Baileys Trail

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Baileys Trail trailhead in Chauncey.

The Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA) discussed the current state of the Baileys Trail System project amid the novel coronavirus pandemic Friday via video conference. 

The Baileys, originally scheduled to open April 15 along with all Wayne National Forest trails, will remain closed to mountain biking, according to Jason Reed, Athens District Ranger of the Wayne National Forest. 

Dawn McCarthy, a public relations officer at the Wayne National Forest, explained the reasoning behind this.

“The regional direction we received is if you haven’t opened it yet, don’t open it,” McCarthy said.

Wayne National Forest trails are seasonally open to mountain bikes, horses and ATVs from April 15 to Dec. 15. 

Due to the coronavirus, however, McCarthy said, “we didn’t have a chance to get the trails cleared.”

The Wayne National Forest has also closed all campgrounds and trailheads because of coronavirus, according to Reed. 

The first 14 miles of the Baileys, or Phase 1, was completed in January, according to a report by the Athens NEWS. Now, the Wayne National Forest is searching for funding for Phase 2.

According to McCarthy, Phase 2 received $150,000 from the Recreational Trails Program Grant. The Athens County Commissioners spoke of a one-time payment of $90,000 to the Baileys during a February commissioners meeting, according to The Athens Messenger

With $240,000 in funding, McCarthy said that seven miles of trail could be constructed that would connect to the Doanville trailhead, about ten miles from Athens city, and Nelsonville, according to McCarthy. However, Athens County has not approved the $90,000 payment.

Mayor Steve Patterson expressed doubt that the Baileys would receive state funding in the next state fiscal year because of coronavirus. 

“I wouldn’t put much hope — at this point anyway — in the (capital) budget from the state,” Patterson said. “We’ll see.”

Many members of ORCA have advocated for funding from their state representatives, according to Patterson. He said he had directly spoken to Gov. Mike DeWine about the Baileys a few weeks prior.

“But COVID-19 has changed a lot of things,” Patterson said. 

McCarthy said Phase 2 could begin construction in early fall.

“That’s the part that really just seems up in the air,” she said. “This is probably getting the trailbuilder’s schedules – their already busy schedules – backed up. So, not really sure.”

Construction of the trail itself has been delayed because of coronavirus. A volunteer work day scheduled for April 4 was canceled. A crew of trail builders was quarantined, so their work has been delayed, according to Reed. 

“There’s work still happening,” Reed said. “We’re still moving forward.”

This week, a stream crossing for the Baileys entrance at Chauncey-Dover Community Park was completed. Work is still being done on a bridge on the trail, according to Reed.

The council approved a job description for the Executive Director for the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia who would work full-time with duties such as coordinating planning sessions between organizations and managing the Baileys’ website. 

Amy Renner, mayor of Chauncey, suggested that the position ask for advocacy experience, and Patterson added that the director should have experience writing grants.

An ARC Power grant of $90,000 will allow the hiring of an executive director.

ORCA also elected the new Board of Directors within its council. Patterson was elected chair, Renner was elected vice chair, and Scott Frank, the interim city manager of Nelsonville, was elected fiscal officer.

ORCA is scheduled to meet again via video conference on May 8. 

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