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Friends of Cheat announces Preston Trail Towns project partners

TUNNELTON –- Friends of the Cheat announced its first class of 2021, Preston Trail Towns Partner Project Partners.

Kelley Burd-Huss said the project is an innovative community economic development program funded by the FOC’s initial $3.2 million RECREATE AML Pilot Grant.

“The FOC and other community organizations are adding nearly 19 miles of new hiking and mountain biking trails to Preston County in the next years,” she said.

Burd-Huss said for each project, FOC is providing in-kind resources, technical support and funding when necessary to execute key components of the projects. The first six projects in this new initiative are:

  • Preston County Parks and Recreation’s) Tunnelton Trailhead Park: FOC is supporting PCPaRC’s effort to develop the Tunnelton Trailhead Park on the West Virginia Northern Rail-Trail by providing assistance and support for public art and security measures, creating a safe and family-friendly gathering space on the rail-trail.
  • West Virginia Scenic Trails Association’s Allegheny Trail Information Kiosks: FOC is materially supporting the WVSTA’s construction and installation of trailside kiosks on the Allegheny Trail (ALT) in Rowlesburg and Albright. These kiosks will better connect the ALT to these Trail Towns, and will provide hikers and residents with a place to share information about events, activities and points of interest on the trail.
  • Rowlesburg Park Commission’s Accessible Bathroom and Concession Upgrades: FOC is collaborating with the Rowlesburg Park Commission to convert an existing park bathroom to a family restroom with accessible toilet and diaper-changing facilities, as well as upgrade the plumbing in the bathrooms and concession stand.

During flooding in March, water got into the building that houses the park’s kitchen equipment and supplies. The building is located on the lower part of the park near the river.  Town officials want to build a new building on the old tennis court ground, which would eliminate flooding problems.

  • The Town of Rowlesburg and Rowlesburg Volunteer Fire Department’s Riverfront Development Project: FOC is providing technical support to the Rowlesburg Volunteer Fire Department and Town of Rowlesburg to prepare town and fire department lands for further development as a community gathering place, event venue and riverside walking trail.
  • McGrew House’s Arboretum Map and Champion Tree Project: FOC is providing support to Kingwood’s McGrew House to develop maps and information regarding the rare and champion trees on the McGrew House grounds. This project adds a new dimension of interest and storytelling to the McGrew House’s mission to preserve and share Preston County’s history with Prestonians and beyond.
  • SUP Cheat’s Outdoor Recreation Co-Op and Standup Paddle board Program: FOC is supporting SUP Cheat, a co-op of fitness and wellness practitioners in north-central West Virginia, providing outdoor group exercise opportunities in Preston County. Specifically, FOC is supporting the standup paddle board programming, introducing Trail Town communities to the sport, including SUP Yoga, SUP fishing, and other activities.

According to Owen Mulkeen, FOC associate director, “FOC is utilizing the momentum from its Preston County Master Trail Plan to further develop the Mountaineer Trail Network Authority. Fueled by grants from the Just Transition Fund, FOC and project partner Downstream Strategies are seeking to expand the trail planning to the rest of the counties within the MTNA. The project team started convening meetings with the appointees from each county for the beginning phases of the creation of the Mountaineer Trail Network Authority. Once the authority is officially recognized with fully enacted bylaws and board members, segments of the Preston County Master Trail Plan becomes one step closer to construction. This is a multi-year, long-view effort that seeks to not only bring additional trails and outdoor tourism-focused advertising to Preston County, but to all counties within the MTNA. We certainly believe that the trail systems and trail towns that make up this region of WV are truly destination-worthy and we are seeking to market, expand, and develop these assets for locals and tourists alike.”

FOC and Preston Trail Towns is accepting new Partner Program applications for its second round. For more information about the Partner Program,  go to, or contact Burd-Huss at 304-276-9956 or

For more information about the Mountaineer Trail Network Authority and the development of north-central West Virginia’s network of destination-worthy trails, contact Owen Mulkeen at