Nice to wake up to this! Getting closer and closer.....can't wait to start moving some dirt!
Trails Near Approval
PKP project achieves milestone
April 14, 2015
By ROB ANDERSEN (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Times Observer
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Years of hard work on a mountain bike trail system above the Kinzua arm of the Allegheny Reservoir appears to be finally bearing fruit.
Joe Colosimo of Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways said on Monday, "The comment period is officially over, which is really exciting. However, we still need the final report on the Heritage study. We expect to have full approval by mid-May at the latest. That will give us the green light to prepare for construction. It will also mark the end of a very long (six-plus) years of work by PKP in bringing this from concept to the doorstep of reality."
He said that in addition to local foundations and corporations, partnerships for the project include the Allegheny National Forest, the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry's fiscal agent, the Warren County Development Association, Pennsylvania Wilds, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Clarion University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
A beautiful trail
There are fabulous walking trails in several areas around the Allegheny Reservoir, including this one at Jakes Rocks. A great deal of progress has been made to establish miles of moutain bike trails along the same hilltop and hillside. The trails will be suitable for everyone, from beginners and leisure family riders to experts.
When the comment, or objection, period ends on a weekend, the period is extended to the next business day, according to Ruth Sutton, public affairs officer for the Allegheny National Forest. She added that there were actually three comment periods.
The first comment period (the scoping period) occurred between April and May 2014. The scoping period allowed the public to provide early input on the purpose and need for the project, details of the proposed trail, and potential environmental concerns.
The second comment period, or Environmental Assessment, occurred between November and December 2014. It allowed the public to review the completed analysis and the proposed finding that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment. The most recent 45-day comment period allows the public to seek higher level review of any unresolved concerns before a decision is signed. Those are federal requirements, according to Sutton.
"In other words, the public may identify concerns with our analysis, draft finding of no significant impact, or draft decision, and have the Eastern Regional Office review the project," Sutton said. "The Regional Forester will then be responsible for reviewing the objections received, and our project file, after which the objections could either be dismissed or we could be instructed to complete additional work. The objection period ends today, and we're not aware of any objections being filed. If an objection is filed, the review process could take 45 days to complete."
"For this project, the 45th day was Saturday, April 11, (so it closed Monday). Any objections for this project would be sent to the Regional Forester in Milwaukee, WI," she added.
In a letter dated Feb. 24, ANF Forest Supervisor Sherry Tune wrote to interested parties, "After consideration of the comments received, it is my intent to implement the Proposed Action."
"The Heritage study is a part of the overall assessment that is required to be completed relative to the area of the ANF that will be involved and impacted by the project," Jim Decker, WCCBI's executive director, said. "It is an assessment that looks at the historical activities within the area so as to ensure that no historically significant features within the project area are impacted by the project construction or use. These are typical assessments required for all projects on federally owned lands."
Sutton noted that the Heritage field study was completed last year, and a report that summarizes the findings and provides recommendations to protect any known or newly-discovered heritage resources will be reviewed by the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office.
Relative to the Trails at Jakes Rocks project itself, a contract has been awarded to Kay-Linn, LLC for the development of detailed trail system construction specifications and for the securing of necessary construction permits for the project. Kay-Linn staff will be at the project site from May 3 through 11 working in collaboration with the Forest Service, ANF and Warren County Conservation district personnel to begin this work, Decker said.
A primary focus of their work will be determining the appropriate means for crossing any streams or wetland areas on the trail system. These elements have been identified and located as a part of the Environmental Assessment field work completed by University of Pittsburgh- Bradford students, but specific construction techniques and details must be defined to support project construction permitting.
"Upon completion of the construction specifications, Requests For Proposals will be published for construction of the initial section of trails which we remain confident will be completed by winter 2015. Additional funding is required to complete the construction of the 43-mile trail system with work continuing to identify and secure both public and private sector resources which can be secured for the project," Decker said.
The trail will run for 46.2 miles, 99 percent of which will be on the ANF. The first phase will be 17 miles.
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