The Allegheny National Forest (ANF), Pennsylvania Kinzua Pathways (PKP) and the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) are seeking public comment on The Trails at Jakes Rocks project.
The project proposes to designate and construct a 46-mile sustainable mountain bike trail system along the western shore of the Allegheny Reservoir in Mead Township in Warren County and Hamilton Township in McKean County.
Two public meetings are planned.
The first will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Frame-Westerburg Commons Building, University Room, Bradford. A second meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 26, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Warren.
The public is invited to learn more about the proposed Trails at Jakes Rocks project and provide comments in person at the two public meetings. They will be open forum meetings with ANF staff and the cooperating organizations, as well as students from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (UPB) will be available to answer questions and record comments.
Maps of the proposed trail system route will be available to focus comments on specific areas of interest.
The trail system has been proposed by PKP and the trail route was established and mapped by Trail Solutions, the consulting services program of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).
Student interns from UPB, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Clarion University completed cultural and biological surveys for the proposed trail route last spring and summer.
An environmental analysis for the project will begin this spring after public comments have been received and analyzed, PKP member Joe Colosimo said on Thursday.
"The students did a fantastic job in their role on this project. It is a great relationship that benefited the students, the ANF and the Trails at Jakes Rocks project. These three universities are great assets to have in this area," Colosimo said. "This project is another step toward improving connectivity, increasing historical awareness, advancing stewardship and providing positive economic impact to the NW Pa Region. All are core requirements for all of our recommended projects."
The stakeholders last met in December to discuss the progress of the project at the headquarters of the Allegheny National Forest. The meeting also included members of the Warren County Council on Tourism, and the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford.
The first phase about 17 miles of the more than 40 in the final proposal is expected to cost about $700,000.
With about $190,000 in funding shifted from the Hunting and Fishing Museum of Pennsylvania and another $100,000 of Growing Greener II funds reallocated by Warren County, the project is on sound financial footing, according to Colosimo.
According to IMBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Frank Maguire, funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is available, but with some conditions. The agency wants to see ownership or a lease agreement for the property the improvements will go to and it wants the project to be viable for 25 years, he said.
Having the project on federal land should help with the conditions, he said.