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Harrison County trail plans have been completed and approved

TRAIL PLANS — Harrison County Commissioner Don Bethel, left, listens as Dan Rice details regional trail plans. -- Carri Graham

CADIZ — A plan for a trail through Harrison County which has been in the works for the past two years has finally come to fruition.

The new Harrison County Trail Plan has been finalized and was presented to the Harrison County commissioners at last week’s meeting.

The project’s goal is to create a regional network of cultural, recreational and natural resources that promote tourism, alternative transportation, community and economic development.

Dan Rice, president of the Ohio Erie Canalway Coalition, said upon completion, the trail will be able to connect five regional and five national trails.

“We’re extremely excited,” Rice said. “This marks a really significant moment in the development of the trail plan.”

The county is uniquely situated because of its location between the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail to the west, and the Great Allegheny Passage Trail to the east, Rice said.

“The opportunity that we have here is really connecting between those two regional trail systems and literally bringing millions of hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders right here to Harrison County,” he said.

Rice said they have had a lot of really great input from those who use the trail on foot, bike and horseback in order to develop the plan. The coalition also has been working with other local organizations, including the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy and Buckeye Trail Association.

“Building off all those great partners, what we’d like to be able to do is to then build this network so people can basically navigate the county through trails, either off-road trails or trails adjacent to run-ways. Working with the county commissioners, I think we’ve got a really great opportunity to do that,” Rice said.

Working with the local agencies will allow the project to build momentum and make the trail connections. Not only are trails great for aiding in wellness, exercise and educating about the heritage of the community, but also in economic development, Rice said.

“We have done an economic impact study of the Ohio & Erie Canalway, on an annual basis the OEC Trailway generates $408 million in community and economic impact. It supports 3,200 jobs and generates $34 million in tax revenue.”

Some of the destinations that will be able to be reached with the newly constructed trail will include Tappan Lake Park, Sally Buffalo Park, Clendening Lake, Piedmont Lake, Jockey Hollow Wildlife Area, the Harrison County Fairgrounds and multiple museums.

“It’s good for the community, for quality of life, and good economic development,” Rice added.

Commissioner Don Bethel thanked Rice and the coalition for their hard work in getting the plan completed.

“It’s nice to see the vision on paper. It’s exciting,” Bethel said.

Commissioners Paul Coffland, Dale Norris and Bethel signed a technical assistance agreement with the coalition at the meeting.

Norris read the agreement, which states that the coalition will provide technical assistance to commissioners in the development and implementation of the trail plan.

The commissioners must provide reimbursement of $15,000 per year, in return for the services accomplished by the coalition.

According to the OECC, the Harrison County Trail Plan is a blueprint for the conservation and development of trails and green spaces in Harrison County, including regional connections to the 101-mile Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the 320-mile Ohio-to-Erie Trail, 1,000-mile Buckeye Trail and the 325-mile Great Allegheny Passage connecting Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

The three-year-agreement, ending in 2021, is to continue work and complete the trail plan.

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