Get your river designated an official water trail.
Under federal law, counties are eligible for federal Department of Transportation funding after their river is designated a water trail for recreation purposes.
Communities along the Coal, Cacapon, Cheat and Elk rivers have fulfilled the requirements to become official water trails access points to the river. Portions of those rivers have been designated official WV water trails by the WV Recreational Trails Advisory Board, part of the state Dept of Transportation. That makes them eligible for more federal grants and makes it easier to move forward with other initiatives (See http://www.cheatriverwatertrail.org.).
In West Virginia, the WV Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administers the program for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The funds are authorized by the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act, which allows states to develop and maintain land and water recreational trails and trail-related facilities. The West Virginia Division of Highways administers the RTP.
States develop their own method of soliciting and funding projects. In West Virginia, a Recreational Trail Advisory Board (RTAB) reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation and the Governor.
West Virginia’s Advisory Board was named the best such state group in the nation in 2013 by American Trails organization. http://www.americantrails.org/awards/CRT13awards/West-Virginia-CRT-award-2013.html.
To get started working toward Water Trail designation:
- See what other communities have done. Here is a copy of the Cheat River Water Trail application to become a Water Trail: http://www.cheatriverwatertrail.org/about-1
- Here is the Tucker County resolution at www.cheatriverwatertrail.org
- Here is more information about the Upper Cheat application: http://www.cheat.org/recreation/trails
- Here is a list of West Virginia watershed associations, along with powerpoints from organizations that have developed water trails with
- multiple access points: http://www.wvca.us/wvwn
- The Coal River Water Trail has 20 access points in 100 miles. There is a kiosk at each one that provides information about the river and the distance to the other kiosks.
These national groups can be helpful:
- Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program: National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/rtca/whatwedo/projects/WV.pdf
- The Coalition for Recreational Trails (American Recreation Coalition) http://www.funoutdoors.com/coalitions/crt
- List of projects that got 2013 recreational trails money awards: http://www.governor.wv.gov/media/pressreleases/2013/Pages/GovernorTomblinPresentsNearly$12MillioninRecreationalTrailGrants.aspx