Mercer County awarded state grant for Bluestone River Trail


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — A state grant will help Mercer County create new hiking opportunities along the Bluestone River and between Camp Creek State Park and Pipestem Resort State Park, the Mercer County Commission learned this week.

The Mercer County Commission has been awarded $187,500 for the Bluestone River Trail, Mercer County Commission President Bill Archer said Tuesday. This grant will help build around 15 miles of hiking trails along Camp Creek from Camp Creek State Park to the Bluestone National Scenic River. Trails will also be added along the Bluestone River to Pipestem Resort State Park. Another trail will go along Brush Creek to the Gardner community.

Archer said the commission learned about this new grant Monday when Nathan Hilbert, a representative with the National Park Service's Rails, Trails and Conservation program who has worked with the county on its trail projects, told him about it.

Another state grant that was awarded several months ago that is currently being used to fund trail improvements at Brush Creek Falls, Archer said.

"Our current grant is already in action now. We awarded the contract for that project several months ago. Work just started there this week," he said. "They're working from the back to the front from White Oak Creek Falls to the pavilion in Brush Creek right on Brush Creek Road. That's exciting that it's ongoing. This will provide us with additional funds to extend that trail whether we choose to go on down Bluestone."

This river has a special status, Archer said.

"The Bluestone River is the only river in West Virginia that is designated as a Wild and Scenic River, but it is only the last 9 miles that are so designated," Archer said. "That's from Pipestem to the Bluestone Dam. We hope to be able to do things that will clean up the river there. Ongoing we're working on river cleanup projects and also things like our trash trout to try and block debris from going in there. We're making some headway in that area."

Trail projects in neighboring Fayette, Summers and Raleigh Counties also have also received state funding.

"I appreciate the governor realizing that we are doing positive things to improve our environment and also to improve access to the incredible sights we have in Mercer County," Archer said.

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