Movement (and in a forward direction…) on trails

Two meetings in two days suggest (eek!) we might be moving closer to developing a network of trails in Prince William.

On June 15, the Manassas National Battlefield Park held an open house to discuss its trails planning.  The park just dedicated a hiking/bridle trail connecting the Brawner Farm to Conway Robinson State Forest.  That connector trail was built in large part by volunteers who used the historic route of the unfinished Manassas Gap Railroad (on an easement dedicated by Annie Snyder 15 years ago).

In the western portion of the battlefield, where the Battle of Second Manassas was fought in 1862, the National Park Service has proposed three alternatives for new bridle trails (plus a few revisions elsewhere).   The park’s close partnership with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, as well as the Battlefield Equestrian Society, is producing  results.

On June 16, the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) approved the Park Authority’s Trails and Blueways Council.  The BOCS decision was a small, bureaucratic step forward in implementing the county’s updated Parks, Open Space, and Trails Plan chapter in the Comprehensive Plan.

Our 8 supervisors and their appointed Park Authority representatives will each select one person to serve on the council.  That means we need 16 volunteers willing to participate in 10 meetings/year… and to push through the inertia, to ensure all the meeting time results in something tangible on the ground.

The county’s lengthy process for revising the Parks, Open Space, and Trails Plan in 2007-8 was an enlightening (and frustrating) experience for many people in Prince William.  Efforts to “aim high” ended up falling far short.  The BOCS voted for words without substance, and the failure of the supervisors to use the revised chapter to do something (you know, like create parks, open space, or trails…) has been even more educational/frustrating.

Normally, adding 16 more people to a decisionmaking process is a good way to gum up the works – but maybe in PW County, the Trails and Blueways Council advising the Park Authority will find a way to cut through the talktalktalk and create some publicly-accessible trails.

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