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Thursday, April 16, 2009

NCT in Clarion County Greenway Master Plan

evergreens in Cook Forest State Park
Cook Forest State Park (photo by JHY)
based on a news article from the Clarion News

Clarion County (Pennsylvania) commissioners were presented this week with a 160-page document outlining a greenway plan for their county.

The plan combines towns and villages with the natural resources such as rivers, streams, lakes, trails, roads, hunting lands, boating access sites, historic sites and parks. "The Greenways plan is designed to connect everything together in a way that protects natural resources, provides for recreational opportunities and enables economic development opportunities though tourism and recreation."

The plan includes 14 potential greenways-- most are waterways. The land-based trails include the historic Baker Trail, and the newer hiking trail, the North Country Trail. Several former rail lines have been identified as possible trail corridors. "The plan ranks the county’s natural greenways on these criteria, and lists the Clarion River at the top, followed by Mill Creek, the Allegheny River and Cook Forest State Park in the “exceptional priority” category."

For economic development to occur, trail towns are important. All too often, land or water trails end outside of town at a trail-head parking lot with no easy route to businesses in the town. But it must be easy for hikers, bikers, canoeists, etc to gain access to businesses for them to spend money on their visit.

"Trail towns must provide at least three of four elements to qualify for trail town status: food, lodging, fuel and a main street shopping district. Other factors are optional attractions but they help: entertainment, recreation, historic attractions and other attractions."

"The plan lists five potential trail towns in Clarion County : Clarion, Cooksburg, East Brady, Foxburg and New Bethlehem. All have three of four major elements, but not all are exploiting the potential for tourism-based economics."

The county commissioners will consider adding the plan to the county's comprehensive plan on April 28.

See Clarion Chapter of the NCTA

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