BROOKVILLE – Chris Corbran of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council spoke at the Brookville Trail Hub meeting on Thursday evening to share the economic impact that has been seen in other areas that have successfully connected trails, especially the Great Allegheny Passage.
Corbran said PEC is focused on amplifying the work trail groups are doing.
“A lot of things happen the same way. People come together, they see an opportunity to make some of these connections and they do it for a lot of the reasons that Paul said, community health, resident retention, it’s fun because people better get out on the trail,” Corbran mentioned.
He also said that one of the first things that PEC looked at when looking at the area for further development was land control because that is so important. He said it was important to have agreements and documents to use land for trail development when applying for funding. Some of the easiest projects have been identified and have already been funded for local groups that take on the work.
Corbran said that while the first phase of funding was already given to the connection and improvement projects, the Appalachian Regional Commission considers it the first phase of implementation. He seemed optimistic that the commission would fund more trail projects for the area in the future once they were “shovel ready” to connect the corridors.
“It’s work that can’t happen if the people on the ground weren’t there to build and share their knowledge and plans with the larger group,” Corbran said.
He cited the Great Allegheny Passage as an example, particularly on the east coast, as a project connecting a corridor “using small groups to contribute to an overall idea and then just having it attract people from everywhere”.
The GAP is a 150-mile trail that stretches from Point State Park in Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, through several state parks, past major landmarks and over the Eastern Continental Divide along the way.
According to Corbran, The GAP published a recent economic study that showed that for every mile of trail, the community as a whole generated $800,000.
“I’ve been told I’m a dreamer, but I see the same thing happening in this area that GAP did. I could see Kittanning, and New Bethlehem, and Summerville, and Brookville, and Ridgway, and Johnsonburg being trail towns, each with their own little thing where they do their thing. They show their city, they drive people through the city,” Boboige said.