Doug Chivington of the Rails to Trails Conservancy was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Bellefontaine Kiwanis Club earlier this week.
Chivington says the nonprofit is dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails for biking and hiking from former rail lines in order to build healthier places for healthier people. The organization was incorporated in 1985 and has since built over 20,000 miles of trail in the United States and over 1,600 preserved pathways. The group boasts more than 150,000 members.
Chivington also spoke about The Simon Kenton Pathfinders, a charitable, non-profit community organization formed in the summer of 1997 for the purposes of developing a multi-use trail in Champaign County. The trail provides long term economic benefits, protects natural resources, and provides a safe alternate transportation route while enhancing the wellness of local and non-local residents.
He explained the current bike trail starts at the depot in Urbana and runs 20 miles, eventually ending back at the beginning. The proposed new trail would start at the depot and end at Southview Park in Bellefontaine.
The trail construction project would cost $800,000. The Simon Kenton Pathfinders have raised all but $84,000 of the total amount. Work on the trail will begin this summer and is planned to finish the summer of 2014. The trail is predicted to have a positive impact on the local economy while providing a better connection between Logan and Champaign County communities.
Chivington noted cycling as a popular pastime in the area with currently over 350 miles of bike trails in the Miami Valley.