Working Towards True Community-driven Trails.
What does what does “equitable trails” mean to you?
For Lavita Logan of Old Fort, NC, it means reclaiming for her community of color, the woods she’s loved and enjoyed since she was a kid.
Sadly for Lavita, she doesn’t see other Black people enjoying the woods as she once did, but she’s determined to change that.
She is a project consultant for People on the Move Old Fort, a Black-led community collaborative that engages residents in efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable town.
With a sizable grant from two foundations in-hand, Lavita and People on the Move approached the Forest Service and G5 Trail Collective — a local nonprofit supporting backcountry trails — because they felt that developing community-driven trails was the best way forward for their community. A vital partnership was formed.
“With (People on the Move’s) voice at the table as a key partner we gained momentum and focused the project on community health and equity.
“That’s when we started using the phrase ‘trails for all’ and working towards true community-driven trails planning,” says Lisa Jennings, Recreation and Trails program manager for the Forest Service.
“With this community-driven planning effort, we hope to build trails that will better connect our public lands to Old Fort, and better serve the needs of the growing use of outdoor spaces in WNC for all users.”
Funded with more than $140,000 in initial grants raised by community partners, the Forest Service is undertaking an analysis of the area to build more than 20 miles of new multiuse trails, with some being hike-only, some hike/bike, and some hike/bike/equestrian. Some will connect to the Fonta Flora State Trail, which will eventually link Asheville to Morganton.
Kitsbow has a small, but significant part in this. We are awed by the confidence of these foundations in the leaders of our community.
Trail building photos: Whiteblaze Marketing
Portrait: Courtesy of US Forest Service