Susanne Sellers and WALC are Moving The Thread Forward in Lincoln County

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DSC04792By Billy Robinson, CLC/Thread Trail Communications Intern

In 2006, community leaders gave birth to a collective vision for hundreds of miles of trails, greenways and blueways connecting 2.3 million people across 15 counties in the Carolinas. Today, passionate individuals and supporters like Susanne Sellers are working closely at the local level to advance the Carolina Thread Trail…mile by mile, county by county. And for Susanne, advancing The Thread in Lincoln County is not just a passion, it’s personal.

“I wholeheartedly believe in the quality of life enhancement, the health benefits and economic value of The Thread to our community and residents,” she says.  “That’s why I work so hard in Lincoln County to ensure that we are continuing the process of advancing The Thread and providing this resource for our community.”

A few years ago Susanne, who is a retired bank executive, was appointed to The Thread’s Governing Board while her friend David Clark joined the Catawba Land Conservancy Board of Directors. Not content with just being board members, they quickly set out to establish a leadership group to promote the importance of conservation and trails in their home county. And with that, Wandering Around Lincoln County (WALC) was born in 2012.

DSCN2842David and Susanne have been strategic about targeting a comprehensive representation of people, skills and knowledge for WALC. Local leaders, planners, community residents, politicians, business owners and corporate executives meet together regularly to share information, ideas and resources on how to enhance Lincoln County’s outdoor amenities and natural areas while promoting the economic, health and community benefits of The Thread.

“WALC advocates an important ethic to preserve, explore and make sure we are doing all we can as a community to protect the green space and natural areas in our county. The word ‘wandering’ in our name is intentional.  We want people to explore and enjoy the natural areas and trails within our towns and cities, but sometimes a little aimless wandering within these beautiful places is just as restorative as focused exercise,” she says.

WALC has taken its message across Lincoln County to community meetings, business roundtables, healthcare professionals’ gatherings, and even to the North Carolina General Assembly. And, their efforts are paying off.

WALC members meet regularly with Lincoln County’s NC State Representative Jason Saine and NC Senator David Curtis; both have been helpful in advocating the economic advantages of The Thread and promoting its benefits to their Raleigh colleagues and associates. U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry’s staff regularly participates in WALC meetings to inform the group of national legislation and efforts of interest.DSC02930

The business community is also on board with WALC. Local area contractors have recently joined the group to offer expertise on trail projects. Lincoln County based manufacturing company, Blum, Inc., has engaged its employees about volunteer opportunities and has made a donation earmarked for The Thread in Lincoln County.

“Access to trails throughout the county is so important because they encourage us all to get more exercise and they preserve the natural beauty and character that we love about this region,” said Karl Rudisser, president of Blum, Inc. “Trails are a way we can invest in our future and everyone can benefit.”

Susanne agrees and leads WALC by example by volunteering to maintain trails or taking walks along The Thread regularly. There are currently 5.6 miles of The Thread open to the public in Lincoln County consisting of the Marcia Cloninger Rail TrailSouth Fork Rail Trail, East Main Street Sidewalk Connection, Ramsour’s Mill Park Trail, and  Sally’s Y Trail.  Over 65 more miles of trail have been identified in the county’s master plan, including a cross-county trail along the South Fork River at Catawba Land Conservancy’s Viles Preserve. This portion of The Thread would consist of approximately three miles of natural surface trail, a canoe launch, gravel parking area and direct access from Blackburn Bridge Road.

Among WALC and The Thread’s other priorities is the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Forney Creek near the Sally’s YMCA in Denver and the construction of approximately one mile of additional natural surface trail along the east side of the creek on property owned by Catawba Lands Conservancy. This would continue the work of an ongoing trail corridor project that will eventually connect Rock Springs Park, Sally’s YMCA and the East Lincoln Community Center.  A number of trail projects are in various stages of planning and implementation across Lincoln County.

DSC04793When asked about WALC’s successes, Susanne proudly says, “Whether gathered around the lunch table or wandering its trails, at its heart WALC remains a great mix of friends who want to tout the benefits of The Thread and conservation. We care about the future of Lincoln County and it’s that shared passion that is making The Thread a reality in our communities and across the region.”

2013 Volunteer of The Year: Trail Master Tom Watson

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SONY DSCTom Watson has volunteered more than 100 service hours to The Thread. From picking up several loads of trash at Seven Oaks Preserve Trail, hosting information tables at community events, working as a Trail Master leader, helping to build an 80 foot suspension bridge, clearing invasive plants along trails, and maintaining many natural surface trails, Tom Watson has been invaluable to our efforts this year.IMG_1467

Not only does Tom help lead groups of volunteers on the trail by showing them what to do, but provides detail about why it’s important which further connects volunteers and supporters to The Thread and nature. Tom also volunteered this year with our lead agency, Catawba Lands Conservancy, to help monitor properties, clear invasive plants and participated in other stewardship duties.

IMG_2131As a result of all of his hard work and dedication, Tom been named The Thread’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year!  He received the award at the 6th Annual Trail Forum on Dec. 5. Congratulations and thank you, Tom!

 

Seven Oaks Preserve Trail is Now Open in Gaston County

Seven Oaks Preserve ribbon cutting, part of the Carolina Thread TrailA beautiful new 2.8-mile segment of The Carolina Thread Trail is now open at the Seven Oaks Preserve near the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden at 6900 S. New Hope Road in Belmont, NC.

This new natural surface trail will directly benefit community residents in Belmont and Lake Wylie, but is open to the general public to enjoy and explore.

The Seven Oaks Preserve, a 77-acre permanently protected area conserved by Catawba Lands Conservancy and is adjacent to Lake Wylie in Gaston County and the new waterfront trail connects to The Garden’s Persimmon Trail. The Seven Oaks Preserve Trail weaves through the preserve’s wooded area that serves as an important wildlife corridor and provides water quality protection for Lake Wylie.Seven Oaks Preserve ribbon cutting, part of the Carolina Thread Trail

Funding to purchase and conserve the Seven Oaks Preserve, and construct the trail and trail amenities was generously provided by the Seven Oaks Farm, LLC., Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Foundation, Pam Warlick Foundation, W. Duke Kimbrell Family Foundation, North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and the Recreational Trails Program (an initiative of North Carolina State Parks). Photos courtesy of Nancy Pierce Photography.

Find This Trail:
Seven Oaks Preserve ribbon cutting, part of the Carolina Thread TrailThe Seven Oaks Preserve Trail’s trailhead and parking lot is located at 6900 S. New Hope Road, Belmont, NC 28012 (located south of The Garden).

Community Support:

  • There has been tremendous community support and great participation from local companies to help advance this new trail. Construction launched this summer with donated materials and labor by Rodgers Builders, Inc. for three pedestrian bridges for the trail. Eighty Rodgers’ employees volunteered 725 hours over four work days, and created the foundations and built the bridges this summer as part of the company’s 50th Anniversary, saving The Thread approximately $26,000 in construction material costs (not including labor).

 

  • The Garden, Premiere Healthcare, Bank of America and Duke Energy all provided employees for various trail-building workdays that culminated in a total of 285 volunteer hours. In mid-November, the City of Belmont donated a dump truck and recycling services for an effort which volunteers and staff cleared three quarters of a ton of trash and debris, including 32 tires and thousands of plastic bottles, from the preserve and trail. To help rid the preserve and trail corridor of kudzu, Gregg Antemann and Carolina Wetland Services loaned CLC a bush hog, a type of rotary mower, for three days which saved $800 in stewardship costs. The Garden and Anteman also volunteered technical support and assistance on how to effectively reduce and kill kudzu on other parts the preserve.

 

  • Over the last two years, the Duke Energy Habitat Enhancement Program provided $26,000 in grants to help CLC eradicate kudzu from the preserve and trail. In 2012, grant money paid for goats to remove kudzu from 10 acres of the preserve and this year CLC purchased equipment and seeds to increase effectiveness against the kudzu and reestablish native grasses and wildflowers.

 

  • This new trail is one of 14 trail segments, totaling 21.3 miles, currently opened to the public in Gaston County that are part of The Thread. This new trail adds 2.8 miles to the network, bringing to 137 the total number of Carolina Thread Trail miles open to the public across the region.

 

  • Trails are vegetated natural buffers that help improve water quality, reduce the impacts of flooding, and provide wildlife habitat, recreation, transportation, conservation, fitness and economic benefits for all to enjoy. Access to trails and greenways is no longer a luxury, but a necessary amenity for all communities to ensure our community health, wellness and sustainability. Across the country, examples demonstrate that trails attract families, businesses and visitors, spurring economic development and increasing the quality of life in communities. According to a study by the National Association of Homebuilders, trails and greenways are the number one amenity desired by potential homeowners when considering moving into a new community.

Trail Forum Attendee Waiting List

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Seven Oaks Preserve Trail Opens Dec. 6 at 1 p.m.!

IMG_0854New Thread Trail Segment Coming to Gaston County at Seven Oaks Preserve
(Near the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden)

Taking a long peaceful walk or jog along Lake Wylie’s shoreline and throughout a protected area is just a few weeks away.

A new 2.8-mile trail that has been under construction at the Seven Oaks Preserve since the summer will open to the public on Friday, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. at 6900 S. New Hope Road in Belmont. This trail is on a preserve protected by  Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC) and connects to other trails at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

The preserve protects important sensitive areas around the lake and safeguards wildlife habitat for wild turkeys, turtles and native wildflowers.

The employees of Rodgers Builders, Inc. kicked off construction and built three pedestrian bridges at no cost to The Thread or CLC. A new parking lot and trailhead have also been constructed. After a brief opening ceremony that includes a ribbon cutting and a sign unveiling, there will be a guided nature hike along the 2.8 mile trail. Please mark your calendars and join us for this trail opening at 6900 S. New Hope Road in Belmont. We’ll provide more event details on The Thread’s website and social media pages.

Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council Trail Is Now Open

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The20131109_101354 Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council Trail opened on Nov. 9! This a new 2.2-mile trail is part of the Carolina Thread Trail. The trailhead and parking lot is located at 1763 Turnersburg Highway in Statesville, NC 28625.

This natural surface trail weaves through a 358-acre permanently conserved area that’s protected by Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC) within the Girl Scouts’ Dale Earnhardt Environmental Leadership Campus at Oak Springs in Iredell County. The Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council Trail provides a unique access for the public to explore this natural and ecologically rich area.

After a brief welcome and opening remarks, Tom Okel, executive director of CLC, and Sally Daley, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts council, unveiled the trailhead marker and cut the ribbon to the trail. Girls Scouts from Troo20131109_102352p 1377 led the inaugural hike along the trail for attendees; Troop 1377 is from the University Area of Charlotte. A grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund helped conserve this area and land for the trail.

This new trail is one of nine trail segments, totaling 14.4 miles, currently opened in Iredell County that are part of The Thread. This trail opening adds 2.2 miles to the network, bringing to 135 the total number of trail miles of The Thread open to the public across our region.

20131109_102010A portion of the protected area where the trail careens through is designated as a NC State Significant Natural Heritage Site – an area of special biodiversity importance identified by the NC Natural Heritage Program to protect the natural habitat of rare plant and animal species.

Oak Springs, located on a 673-acre campus, is a regional destination for Girl Scouts and provides camp activities and educational experiences for girls from Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Rowan, Stanly, Union and York, SC counties.

New Segment of The Thread Opens on Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. in Statesville

Trail at Girl Scouts Carolina Thread Trail, Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC), and Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council (Girl Scouts) invite you to attend a ribbon cutting to open a new 2.2-mile trail that will be part of the Carolina Thread Trail.

The trailhead unveiling, ribbon cutting and hike will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, starting at 10 a.m. The event will take place at the Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council Trail’s Trailhead at 1763 Turnersburg Highway in Statesville, NC 28625.

This natural surface trail, which will officially open to the public beginning on Nov. 9, will weave through a 358-acre permanently conserved area that’s protected by Catawba Lands Conservancy (CLC) within the Girl Scouts’ Dale Earnhardt Environmental Leadership Campus at Oak Springs in Iredell County.  The Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council Trail will weave through this site and provide a unique access for the public to explore this natural and ecologically rich area.

After a brief welcome and opening remarks, Tom Okel, executive director of CLC, and Sally Daley, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts council, will unveil the trailhead marker and cut the ribbon to the trail. Girls Scouts from Troop 1377 will be dressed in uniforms and lead the inaugural hike along the trail for attendees; Troop 1377 is from the University Area of Charlotte. The guided hike will last approximately 30 minutes, but attendees can stay as long as desired to complete the hike. A grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund helped conserve this area and land for the trail.

This new trail is one of nine trail segments, totaling 14.4 miles, currently opened in Iredell County that are part of The Thread. This trail opening adds 2.2 miles to the network, bringing to 135 the total number of trail miles of The Thread open to the public across our region.

A portion of the protected area where the trail careens through is designated as a NC State Significant Natural Heritage Site – an area of special biodiversity importance identified by the NC Natural Heritage Program to protect the natural habitat of rare plant and animal species.

Oak Springs, located on a 673-acre campus, is a regional destination for Girl Scouts and provides camp activities and educational experiences for girls from Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Rowan, Stanly, Union and York, SC counties.

 

 

 

Volunteers Needed for Trash Pick-Up at Seven Oaks Preserve

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Seven Oaks PreserveThis summer’s massive rainfall caused a lot of trash and debris to wash up along the banks of Lake Wylie near the Seven Oaks Preserve, a permanently protected area conserved by Catawba Lands Conservancy.

On this preserve, a 2-mile trail that will be part of the Carolina Thread Trail is being constructed and will soon be open to the public. This new trail will connect to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and create a great opportunity for many people to further explore nature and the outdoors!

Volunteers are needed to help pick up trash along the shoreline of the lake to help make this trail enjoyable and safe for all users. Please consider volunteering on the following days for one or more shifts:

Wednesday, Nov. 13: 9 a.m.- Noon and 1 p.m.-4p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 14: 9 a.m.- Noon and 1 p.m.-4p.m.
*Lunch will be provided between Noon-1 p.m. on both days.

Volunteers will meet in the back of the parking lot of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Look for Carolina Thread Trail signs to help direct you to the meeting location. Directions, gloves, snacks, water and lunch will be provided for volunteers.

If interested in volunteering, please register at http://www.carolinathreadtrail.org/volunteer/. You will need to create a volunteer profile with the Carolina Thread Trail/CLC to register for this volunteer event.

Thank you for your support!

New Group Connects Women to The Thread!

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greenway gals 0Do you want to be a part of a wonderful community project that’s connecting people to people, neighborhood to neighborhood and North Carolina to South Carolina while helping to make our region a leader in conservation and outdoor recreation? If so, the Greenways Gals are looking for you!

The Greenway Gals is a group of women who will get together to hike and kayak several times a year along the Carolina Tgreenway gals 1hread Trail (The Thread)! It will be a fun way to experience the outdoors as well as support the mission of The Thread – an extremely exciting project that is going to improve our community and region with a permanent system of trails, greenways and blueways that will link 15 counties and 2 states!

The membership fee is $250 per person. Greenway Gals believe in investing in The Thread to keep our greenway gals 2region healthy by encouraging physical activity and exploring nature through walking, hiking and kayaking. Click the donate button below to become a Greenway Gals member!




15 Volunteers Certified As New Trail Masters

Congratulations and THANK YOU to the 15 new Trail Masters who are now certified and trained to lead other volunteers on sustainable trail building practices. Our Trail Masters are dedicated volunteer leaders who commit to volunteering at least 40 hours of service for a period of three years to help build trail for The Thread throughout our 15-county region.IMG_1947

The four-day course in the latest techniques in sustainable trail building and maintenance was held Oct. 7-11 at the Anne Springs Close Greenway and taught by Trail Design Specialist Owner Mike Riter. Trail Masters serve as crew chiefs during our volunteer workdays and play a vital role in enhancing our trail efforts within local communities.

Thanks to the 15 volunteers listed below, we now have 45 trained and certified Trail Masters! This program has been made possible for 2013 by a generous grant from the Women’s Impact Fund. If you’d like to receive information on the 2014 Trail Masters program or have questions, please contact Carolina Thread Trail Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Vanessa Gorr at 704.342.3330 (ext. 215) or vanessa@carolinathreadtrail.org.

2013 Certified Trail Masters!

Howard Baker

Cory BartlettIMG_1898

Sean Bloom

Danielle Burnham

Stephanie Bush

Robin Callahan

Cory Chase

Adam Farrell

Joe FisherIMG_1932

Diane Frazier

Vanessa Gorr

Lisa Jenkins

Jim Knox

Allen Lowrance

Patrick Lynch