Leisure plans for Higher Kanawha Valley transferring ahead by fee | WCHS Community | Information • Sports activities • Enterprise

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MALDEN, W.Va. — Plans for a major recreation project in the Upper Kanawha Valley are progressing. It’s a project that Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango describes as “one of the largest ever undertaken” in the county.

Salango provided an update to the Recreational Tourism Plan that will bring hiking trails, bike trails, the Hatfield McCoy trail and river use to this part of the county.

He said the commission had hired an engineer through Civil and Environmental Consultants, the same firm that completed the master plan, and work was well underway. Salango said money has been set aside to demolish destroyed buildings in the Montgomery area where the trail will be built.

In March, the commission was awarded a $675,210 POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). After appropriate funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Kanawha County Commission, the total project award is US$1.2 million.

In 2021, the Kanawha County Commission completed a comprehensive outdoor recreation-based economic development strategy and master plan for the Upper Kanawha Valley, the 30-mile stretch east of Charleston to the town of Gauley Bridge in Fayette County .

Salango said part of the next step is hiring an executive director of the Upper Kanawha Valley Plan.

“We are looking for someone who is motivated, who understands the Upper Kanawha Valley, someone who can get the job done. It’s a huge project. Honestly, it’s going to be one of the largest projects Kanawha County has ever undertaken,” Salango said.

Salango said much of the project will be implemented over the next 12 to 24 months and the Jeep Trail could open in six months.

The commission will continue to meet with local citizens and officials about the county’s ATV ordinance. Salango said changes need to be made to keep up with this recovery plan.

The meetings take place on Monday and Tuesday in Belle and Marmet.

“We are trying to find a sensible solution that offers safety for drivers and other motorists. Also one that we can generate business with,” Salango said.