Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 6, 2013

Spearhead Trail progress pushes ahead to become part of ATV mecca

By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

POCAHONTAS, Va. — Progress is being made on two different legs of the Spearhead Trail system in Tazewell and Buchanan counties.

Chuck Riedhammer, executive director of the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority (SRRA) overseeing the Spearhead Trail development, said there is still work to be done before construction can begin on the Tazewell County section of the trail near Pocahontas, Va.

“The project is coming along,” Riedhammer said. “We have secured an agreement with the Department of Corrections and tasked with the warden at the prison in Pocahontas about the trail going through their property. We will be working with them about that. There is another land agreement we are also working on in the area.”

With the Hatfield-McCoy Trailhead in nearby Bramwell, Riedhammer said Pocahontas is poised to become a haven for ATV riders.

“We think Bramwell will help funnel riders into the Spearhead Trail,” he said. “It is great to talk with the people in Bramwell. When we get signs up, you will be able to ride between Bramwell and Pocahontas. This area will become a trail mecca. This is going to create some significant economic development in both areas.”

Riedhammer said there are some who are already seeing the economic development potential for the trail in Pocahontas.

“Pocahontas stands to benefit a great deal,” he said. “We hope people will travel and take time to see what Pocahontas’ potential is. I think those who get in on the ground floor of things in Pocahontas will really benefit. It is a great town and it is ready to come back. People are already trying to get things up in the town including support businesses. A couple of people have looked at areas for establishing cabins and campgrounds. My speculation is additional facilities with supplies like fuel, parts and restaurants will be coming in as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a couple of restaurants in Pocahontas this time next year.”

Meanwhile, a grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority has helped start development of the 50-mile trail system in the western end of Buchanan County. Riedhammer said the SRRA was granted $537,765 from VCEDA for trail development in Southwest Virginia with $91,905 of the funds going to the Buchanan County trail.

“There will be 50 miles of trail in Buchanan County connecting to 50 miles of trail in Dickenson County for a total of 100 miles in what we are calling the Buchanan-Dickenson trail,” Riedhammer said. “We have evaluated the land in Buchanan County through mapping and aerial photography. We have plotted the best places for a conceptual trail to go. This funding is to take that mapping and conceptual work and start looking at where to put the trail. We will also be on the sites doing GPS mapping.”

Riedhammer said when constructing the trail, the plan is to use natural trails to reduce the environmental impact of the trail so riders can enjoy nature.

“We try to do minimal construction techniques,” he said. “We use environmental construction techniques so we can leave things as they are. We will do environmental surveys to mitigate any environmental issues. We don’t want to take down a tree for the sake of taking down a tree. We have also found that using the natural run-off and irrigation to our advantage is much better.”

Additionally, Riedhammer said the authority has been in discussion with local coal and gas companies as well as Virginia Department of Transportation to help in trail development.

“We have been talking with local stakeholders, such as gas and coal companies to see if we can help them through the trail development and to work with them,” Riedhammer said. “We also want to maximize access to the trail, so we have been working with VDOT since the Coalfields Expressway will be going through that same area to help with access. Eventually, we hope this Buchanan-Dickenson County trail will be able to take riders all the way to Breaks Interstate Park.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com