Oil Region Alliance: ATV Study, Outdoor Recreation Projects Continue

| May 20, 2020

OIL CITY, Pa. — The stay at home order is not stopping outdoor recreation development in our area.

The Oil Region Alliance is continuing work on several projects including an ATV trail study, which was the topic of a kickoff meeting via a Zoom video conference on Wednesday with a couple members of the steering committee.

“Folks were very excited,” said Kim Harris, Outdoor Recreation Project Manager of the Oil Region Alliance.

This initial meeting was to get the thoughts of steering committee members, who include Oil City Mayor Bill Moon, and to go through details of study process with representatives of Laird Landscape Architects, the firm selected to conduct the study.

The first step is to determine if there is public interest in an ATV (all terrain vehicle) or OHV (off highway vehicle) trail in the region. Public meetings, possibly held virtually, and surveys will be used to gauge the level of interest of local people, businesses, and partner organizations. The initial phase of the study will also research the potential impact such a trail could have on the region.

Some mapping will also be conducted to determine potential locations for a trail.

If there is enough support, a second phase will be conducted to determine where the trail would be and if it would connect to any other ATV trails in the area.

Oil Region Alliance President and CEO John R. Phillips, II is confident in the need, citing support from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the National Park Service. Money from ATV and snowmobile registrations goes into a fund used in part to “develop and maintain trails on public land and to encourage trail development on private land through grants,” according to a publication on ATV laws produced by DCNR.

“We at the Oil Region Alliance have been involved in outdoor recreation development for many years,” Phillips said. “This is another amenity we’re looking to add to the region’s offerings.”

Phillips acknowledges there is an economic impact involved in opening the area up to off-road vehicles and enthusiasts. Pointing out the expense of trucks and trailers to haul ATVs, he said those who travel to trail ride have expendable income that would certainly benefit the Oil Region and its hospitality industry.

Partnering to plan for and develop public ATV trails is also an environmentally friendly solution, according to Phillips.

Harris agreed, stressing the importance that these are “sustainable trails, which are designed to minimize erosion and protect waterways.”

The availability of properly marked and maintained public ATV trails cut down on or eliminate the trespassing that occurs when riders use trails on private land. Likewise, it discourages ATV riders from using (and often damaging) trails meant for other sports such as mountain biking and cross country skiing.

Those interested in participating in the public forums about the ATV trail study are encouraged to follow the Oil Region Alliance on Facebook and may also provide their contact information to Kim Harris at Kharris@oilregion.org.

The first two phases will be complete by June 2021.

In addition to the ATV Trail Study, the Oil Region Alliance is making strides in outdoor recreation development through the following projects:

“Get on the Trail” Business Plan Contest

This business plan writing contest encourages entrepreneurs to develop new businesses or expand existing ones with an eye toward trail users. A kickoff for the 2020 contest is being planned for early June. Get the latest details at www.ORAGOT.com.

Repairs to the Railroad Bridge Crossing in Oil City

The ORA is partnering with the City of Oil City to make repairs to the pedestrian/bike path on the railroad bridge crossing in Oil City. The City is managing this project, which is already underway.

Trail Development in Crawford County

The ORA recently prepared and submitted funding requests for detailed engineering of the Sportsman Road Bridge and construction of .4 miles of trail in the Crawford County Forest and recently completed an inspection of the Sportsman Road Bridge. The ORA is working within a memorandum of understanding with the Clear Lake Authority and many other partners on this project, including the Volunteer Trail Fund, which recently committed $8,000 toward the construction of one mile of trail in the Crawford County Forest. The ORA continues to seek additional funds for this project.

Assistance to the Allegheny Valley Trails Association

The ORA is assisting the Allegheny Valley Trails Association with several projects including the rehabilitation of the Ritchey Run Bridge on the railroad corridor in Emlenton, the engineering of doors for the Rockland Tunnel, upgrading the parking area at the northern portal to include ADA parking space, and educational signage regarding stormwater environmental issues and sustainable practices to alleviate them. The ORA also prepared and submitted a request for funding for the construction of a short piece of ADA compliant trail to connect the share-the-road section on River Avenue to the Ritchey Run Bridge area in Emlenton, and to address stormwater issues on the railroad corridor to prepare for trail construction south of the Ritchey Run Bridge, which will be handled by the non-profit Allegheny River Trail in Clarion.

Murray’s Scenic Overlook Repairs

The ORA will soon replace the fencing at Murray’s Scenic Overlook on Grandview Road in Oil City.

Kids in the Outdoors

Funded through a mini-grant of the ORA, Kids in the Outdoors is a program for children that will soon be hosted by the Venango Museum.

Wild and Scenic Allegheny Water Trail

As marketer of the Wild and Scenic Allegheny Water Trail, the portion of the Allegheny River from Warren to Emlenton, the ORA maintains a list of assets along the waterway for monitoring and makes repairs as needed. The ORA is also partnering with the City of Oil City on upcoming signage for the Oil City Marina.

Oil Creek Water Trail

The ORA is partnering with Titusville Community Development Agencies on signage and a kiosk for the Oil Creek Water Trail in Titusville.

Trail Summits

The ORA is helping to organize the first ever Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Regional Trail Summit scheduled for this summer in Franklin and the PA Statewide Greenways and Trail Summit to be held in 2021 in Erie. The ORA will also participate in both summits.

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