A new area advisory board has been created which will give the area a leg-up for outdoor tourism.
The Cumberland Gap Regional Trails Steering Committee will be applying for assistance from the National Parks Service, connecting the Tri-State area to contacts which will make their work more effective.
The NPS River Trails Conservation Application for developmental assistance will help the committee move forward toward their goal of connecting trails throughout Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky to make one larger multi-use trail system, which will encompass mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding to name a few.
“In addition to the national park, we have so many assets that show the strength of outdoor recreation in our area,” said committee member Jon Grace. “This is a great place to be if you have interest in this, but we need to have a way to show this to tourists and get them in here.”
The committee is composed of nearly 20 members of local recreation organizations, government entities and tourism groups that have common interests in outdoor recreation.
Bell County’s Fern Lake is a main attraction the committee will focus on if awarded the assistance. There are several plans in the works for building upon the existing recreation opportunities in that watershed.
“The important thing about this process is that it has public input. Because I know there is a lot of passion for that area, there should be public meetings,” said committee member and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs. “There’s a lot of amazing things currently in place that highlight the things there are to do here.”
The committee will submit their application on Aug. 1. There are plans to have community input at future meetings.
Kelsey Gerhardt may be reached at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.