Daniel Boone National Forest improves trails with transportation funds
Published 1:46 pm Monday, November 1, 2021
KY Transportation Cabinet provides Forest with $2.4 million grant
The Daniel Boone National Forest, under the management of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, oversees a trail system that connects recreation opportunities, natural resources, and communities across more than 708,000 acres in Eastern Kentucky. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recognized the role the Forest plays in the provision and maintenance of regional transportation with a $2.4 million grant to improve the Forest’s motorized and non-motorized trails and trail programs. The funds will be spent over several years.
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“We manage more than 600 miles of trails that start at the Tennessee border and continue up to just north of Interstate 64,” said Matt Able. “There is a ton of ground to cover, both literally and figuratively, when it comes to maintaining, updating, and improving our trail system. But, this grant is total game changer – with these funds, we can bring some big and much-needed changes to the Forest sooner rather than later!”
Since receiving grant funds in late 2020, the Forest has brought on four temporary employees to lead motorized and non-motorized trail projects. Their work has ranged from much-needed updates to specific areas, like constructing new stone steps for a section of the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, to large-scale renovations, like clearing debris from miles of the Redbird Crest OHV Trail or relocating several sections of important trails.
“Not only have our new folks completed quality trail work on their own but they have also upped our overall capacity,” said Able. “By working with partners and supervising volunteer and service crews, they’ve helped us get boots on the ground on over 400 miles of trail this year.”
Through the combined efforts of Forest trails employees and countless volunteer and service crews from partner organizations, the Trails team has removed well over 1,000 trees from across trails, brushed out over 60 miles of trail, and improved tread on 8 miles of trail. The pace of archaeological clearances for trail reroutes or new trail construction has also been ramped up through partnerships with local universities like Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.
In addition to on-the-ground trail work, this grant supports the Forest’s recently launched trail system master planning project. Project partners from Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Kay-Linn Enterprises spent months conducting an on-the-ground assessment of the trail network and are now leading collaboration and engagement activities with the public. This project will provide an analysis of the existing trail system and a vision for its future management.
“We appreciate the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s support for our trail system,” said H. Scott Ray, Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor. “The Daniel Boone National Forest provides for diverse recreation opportunities across the region and trail use is one of our largest user groups. With this grant, we will make significant improvements to our trails and support the rising demand for outdoor recreation and trails. We are thankful for our partnership with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and how together we are making it easier for Kentuckians to get outside and explore!”
Learn more about the Daniel Boone National Forest trail work supported by this grant on the Daniel Boone National Forest website.