EDITORIAL: Hiking to the Future
It has been anything but a smooth walk these past few years for the Laurens County Trails Association to realize its goals of fitness and profit from a trails system to compliment that of neighboring Greenville.
Just as a reminder, from their website, here’s what the group seeks to accomplish:
--A thriving network of trails that enable citizens and visitors to discover and enjoy Laurens County’s abundant natural beauty.
--A community of healthy families and individuals that leverage the opportunity for outdoor exercise.
--A broad commitment to the value of nature conservation and the actions to ensure it.
--A set of flourishing businesses providing a variety of products and services for outdoor enthusiasts.
How We Plan to Achieve that Vision:
Our near term (2016) goal is to develop the Laurens County Trails Master Plan and ensure its adoption and support from government, civic, and community organizations. The Master Plan includes chapters that cover:
--the benefits of a trails system
--opportunities for connecting existing natural resources, parks, and trails
--proposed trails (including the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail)
--plan to ensure that the community is informed, educated, and engaged.
Implement the Master Plan
--Ongoing and multi-year actions in collaboration with government, civic, and community organizations to
Implement the proposed trails (with an initial focus on extending the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail)
--Lead fund raising from multiple public and private sources
--Involve and engage the community.
The effort continued Saturday with a local extension of a national effort to raise awareness of trails; from the American Hiking Society’s website:
What's National Trails Day® All About?
Taking place on the first Saturday in June, National Trails Day® is a day of public events aimed at advocacy and trail service. Thousands of hikers, bikers, rowers, horseback riders, trail clubs, federal and local agencies, land trusts, and businesses come together in partnership to advocate for, maintain, and clean up public lands and trails.
This past Saturday at Lake Rabon, the Laurens County Trails Association held an information session, hikes on the Lake Rabon Trails - developed through grants obtained by the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission - kayaking and paddle boarding opportunities by Asbury Adventures, Critters and More On the Go! hands-on environmental education experiences, and Marcus' Barbeque for those seeking a lunch-time, outdoor dining experience. It’s sponsored by a different group but this Saturday, also, Lake Rabon will host an outdoor experience with the DNR Fishing Rodeo (8-11 a.m., ages 15 and under).
It’s all part of a continuing effort to let people know: We have much to be thankful for in terms of outdoor opportunities in Laurens County. We need to get out of our little cocoons, and enjoy them more.
Really, we are a blank slate. We have a Reedy River access point, we have a State Historic Site, we have public boating access to upper Lake Greenwood - all those are great Laurens County success stories, and perhaps we need to dwell on these, rather than our “don’t haves”.
Yes, we all want The Swamp Rabbit Trail. Local business-promoters want those gathering places, craft breweries and small cafes that have migrated where the people are. We all look with awe at Traveler’s Rest’s success. But we are us, we have to find our own way - no “extension” is going to magically transform our sleepy community into a bustling mecca for bicyclists and moms running with strollers. It’s going to take work - everyone connected with the Laurens County Trails Association knows that, and they don’t fear it - they relish it.
Money, yes - we need a dedicated stream of recreation revenue. We need to market our unique position on the Palmetto Trail. We need to turn River Shoals into something safe, accessible and fun. We need to able to walk - safely, with hydration points - from Laurens to Clinton, and back. Everywhere we build a recreation center, we need to install a track. It needs to be suitable for walking and bicycling. We need to transform one or more of our county’s wonderful hills into picturesque, off-trail biking. We need to open up the outdoors for the physically-challenged. We have all this potential, and much, much more.
So, if you are an outdoors person, the LCTA needs you - it needs a network of you. It needs people who are not just thinkers (like us) - it needs do-ers. You can contact The Trails’ new executive director, Bud Marchant, through their website, www.lctrails.org He will be happy to hear from you - and put you to work.