Ohio River Trail Council Press Release
For Immediate Release: June 1, 2012
Contact(s): Vincent Troia, ORTC, (724) 728-2625
Peggy Pings, NPS-RTCA, (304) 293-7528
Upper Ohio River Water Trail - Pennsylvania Section Receives Funding
MONACA, PA - Southwestern Pennsylvania is experiencing a rapid growth in interest and use of our scenic rivers. The Travel Industry Association of America reports that 55.1 million Americans are “Geotourists” interested in eco-tourism, including activities like kayaking and canoeing. Paddling is one of the top ten adventure activities for baby boomers, followed by fishing, biking and hiking. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, 17.8-million Americans participated in kayaking, canoeing and rafting in 2008, with 7.8 million paddling kayaks alone. Kayaking is the fastest growing outdoor sport and kayaking and canoeing were among the top five recreational sports that had the most first-time participants in Pennsylvania. Involvement in the sport has nearly doubled in the United States in the last nine years, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
To address this growing appeal and introduce our citizens to the recreational and environmental renewal of the Ohio River in Allegheny and Beaver Counties, the Ohio River Trail Council (ORTC) proposed the development of the Upper Ohio River Water Trail. The Ohio River Trail Council's goal is to improve access to our waterways by establishing a series of small watercraft launch points along the Ohio River and its tributaries in Pennsylvania. The Upper Ohio River Water Trail will enhance the recreational activities on 40+ miles of the Ohio River and connect Pittsburgh to its neighboring communities in Beaver County while offering enormous opportunity for recreation for the 1.4 million residents living along the Ohio River.
A water trail or blue trail is a dedicated safe route for boats that provides a destination for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and other recreation. These routes establish recreational corridors between specific locations and can include boat launches, day-use sites, and in some cases overnight camping. Equally important, the trail and the resulting enhanced river experiences will inspire stewardship for the river and its associated landscape, including its cherished scenery and significant natural and cultural resource. The trail will promote sustainable economic development; provide educational opportunities and connections to our history, ecology, geology, heritage and wildlife.
To accomplish this task, the Ohio River Trail Council is forging partnerships with local and national groups to promote river utilization and community pride. The Ohio River Water Trail Project, which began in 2011, has recently formed a Steering Committee to provide guidance in the development of the Upper Ohio River Water Trail. The Steering Committee includes representatives from the Ohio River Trail Council, National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, Beaver County Planning Commission, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Independence Conservancy, Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation, Beaver County Rowing Association, Beaver County Recreation & Tourism Department, Beaver County YMCA, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.
The first assembly of the Steering Committee will occur on Monday June 11, 2012. Municipality representatives are welcomed and encouraged to attend. The Ohio River Trail Council will be hosting open houses and public meetings as the project moves forward to promote public awareness and encourage community input.
The investment in the Upper Ohio River Water Trail - Pennsylvania section through sponsorship and in-kind services to-date totals to nearly $50,000 primarily from the Port of Pittsburgh Commission (PPC) and the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service’s Challenge Cost Share Program Grant (CCSP). The source of the Upper Ohio River Water Trail funding includes a $20,000 Port of Pittsburgh Commission grant, a $9900 NPS Challenge Cost Share Program grant, and about $18,000 of in-kind and volunteer services by the ORTC, local community and organizational partners.
Funding for the Upper Ohio River Water Trail Project includes four deliverables: 1) the installation of amenities along various small watercraft launch sites along the Ohio River, such as roadside directional signage, waterway signage, informational kiosks, picnic tables, benches, canoe/kayak racks and bike racks; 2) a water trail map & guide which includes the identification of access and hazard sites, trail amenities, safety information, boating regulations, and information on natural, cultural and historic points of interest; 3) the purchase of canoes and kayaks for use in developing a new Youth Paddling Program with partner organizations; and 4) application for designation of the Upper Ohio River Water Trail as part of the Pennsylvania Water Trail Program, National Recreation Trail, and as part of the National Water Trail System. The ORTC goal is to complete the above aspects of the Upper Ohio River Water Trail Project by the fall of 2013.
A highlight of the Upper Ohio River Water Trail Project is the development of the ORTC Youth Paddling Club. Blue trails provide a fun and exciting way for our youth to discover our rivers, connect to the great outdoors, celebrate the beauty of our region, and improve quality of life. A water trail provides many recreational and educational opportunities. Water trails connect museums, historic sites, parks and preserves creating frontiers for exploration, discovery and enrichment. These connections build a sense of place. Water trails link families who grow together through work and play on the trail. The ORTC Youth Paddling Program includes teaching Paddlesports Safety and Paddlecraft Vessel Safety to children as well as training community members to be safe boaters, and guiding public paddling trips.
Port of Pittsburgh Commission
The mission of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission is to “promote the commercial use and development of the waterway-intermodal transportation system and to integrate that system into the economic, recreational, environmental and intermodal future of the residents and industries of Southwestern Pennsylvania.” Sustainable, port-related economic development projects are the primary focus of the Port of Pittsburgh Commission grants. Projects may be educational, recreational, environmental or touristic in nature.
Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (NPS – RTCA) works with community groups, nonprofit organizations, tribes or tribal governments, and local, state, and federal government agencies to achieve locally-defined goals for natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation. RTCA projects include natural area preservation, rivers conservation and the development of recreational trails and greenways. RTCA carries out the natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation mission of the National Park Service. A network of planning professionals delivers the RTCA Program nationwide, helping communities to help themselves achieve on-the ground successes. The RTCA assist the local partners to make their rivers, trails, greenways and open spaces a vital, life-enhancing part of their communities levering its resources. Each year, on average, the National Park Service and their partners across the country create over 1,400 miles of trails, conserve more than 63,700 acres of open space, and protect more than 700 miles of waterways. Through the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative, competitive funding from the NPS Challenge Cost Share Program has been earmarked for those projects that respond to the AGO Recommended Actions, such as the development of Water Trails.
Ohio River Trail Council
The Ohio River Trail (ORT) is a project spearheaded by the Ohio River Trail Council (ORTC), a Pennsylvania based non-profit volunteer-led corporation that is dedicated to bring individuals, councils, organizations, schools, conservancies, communities, corporations, recreational users and all levels of government together to promote and protect a continuous corridor of natural and cultural resources along the Ohio River and its tributaries. The ORTC is serving as a unification tool by providing a resource and a forum for our local citizens, decision makers, and project managers to share knowledge in order to guarantee a bright future for our rivers, forests, and towns.
The Ohio River Trail Council is currently planning & developing a forty-one (41) mile multi-use land & water trail system along the Ohio River and its tributaries, known as the Ohio River Trail. The corridor runs from Coraopolis, PA to Ohioville, PA at the U.S. Public Land Survey “Point of Beginning”, a National Historic Landmark located near the three-way intersection of Ohio, Pennsylvania and the northern tip of West Virginia. The Ohio River Trail is part of the “Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area”, “Lewis & Clark Trail” and is a candidate for part of the U.S. Bicycle Route 50 and a portion of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, Pittsburgh spur. The Ohio River Trail will also follow sections of the "Great Path" and the “Lincoln Highway”. Furthermore, the ORTC proposes the broad vision of a tri-state greenway system between Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The ORT will serve to complete a key segment in a nationally significant trail. The proposed Ohio River Trail will unite the “Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway” in Columbiana County, Ohio to the “Great Allegheny Passage” in Allegheny, County Pennsylvania forming a mega-trail from the great lakes region to our nation's capitol.
The Ohio River Trail Council is an active group of people, diligently working on making trail connections and raising community awareness about trails and the variety of opportunities that they provide. Our multi-municipal organization is committed to excellence and has passion for delivering outstanding results. The council is composed of a dedicated and visionary leadership to develop strategies and implement our initiative. We ask you to support us to capitalize on our strengths and assist us in implementing our vision.
Copyright © 2012 Ohio River Trail Council