FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Now that more people are outside and health-conscious, outdoor recreation experts say now is the time to look at ways to continue to expand that industry.
One of the ways we are seeing that locally is through the Wolf Creek Park Trails in Fayetteville as it has remained a hot topic in county commission meetings throughout the year. In Friday’s unique commission meeting, it was taken to the trails as commissioners toured the trails in person.
However, before the big field trip, outdoor recreation experts from West Virginia University’s Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative made the case for why Fayetteville and Fayette County are climbing the national ranks for recreation and why trail development could take that one step further.
“This area has been really driven by tourism, and that’s awesome, but we also feel that what we’re seeing nationally and what these other places have done is turn that tourism into residence,” WVU Assistant Dean for OEDC Danny Twilley said. “And that’s really what we’re striving for. We want people to stay in West Virginia because they recognize it’s such an amazing place to live work and play, and then we want people to move here because of the same reason.”
Sam Chaber is the contractor with SC Resources who has been working on Wolf Creek Park Trails, and he says just 11 miles have been completed so far, and it has already created buzz at the local and state level even drawing up interest from out-of-state visitors.
His contract will end in October but he hopes by then, all 15 miles will be developed. “What still needs to happen is signage,” Chaber said. “I don’t know where the county stands on that or what’s going to happen but hopefully by mid-October, there will be a ribbon-cutting, and we can let it loose and tell everyone about it.”
Just word of mouth and social media has already done half the job drawing crowds and interest to the park. The county intends to apply for Abandoned Mine Land Grant funding to get them the signage money and continue to build upon its success that started with a small group of volunteers which became a large group of volunteers and turned into a county project.
“What my sense is, the community wants this,” Dwilley said. “They have energy. They’re putting their time behind it. It’s just really really exciting.”
What continues to be up for debate is where the county will go from here as it is still up in the air whether they will prioritize further single track trail development or do more rail trail development.
They will meet again on August 21 to discuss a possible outlook plan for the entire county.