The North Country Trail, which stretches 4,650 miles from Eastern New York to western North Dakota, now has an improved spur that connects it with Chapman State Park.
On Wednesday morning a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official completion of improvements to the North Country Trail Connector. One of 11 National Scenic Trails, 96 miles of the NCT meander through the Allegheny National Forest. With the 5.6-mile-long North Country Trail Connector, travelers on that cross-country trail have an improved option of visiting Chapman State Park with its lake and facilities. The NCCT also connects with the Tanbark Trail at its southern terminus.
The improvement project dates back to 2007, when a survey was done to address water quality in Tionesta Creek. That survey found an un-maintained forest road, which runs from Chapman State Park to Hearts Content Road at Dunham's Siding, to be negatively impacting the West Branch of Tionesta Creek through sedimentation. This road also runs through State Game Lands 29 where it is designated a horse and bike trail. The West Branch is classified as a High Quality Cold Water Fishery and some of its tributaries are designated Exceptional Value Streams.
Representatives of the agencies involved in restoring the North Country Connector Trail from Chapman State Park to the North Country Trail near Dunham Siding are seen during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday at the trailhead in Chapman State Park. From left are Mitch Stickle of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Terry Wills of the Pennsylvania Game Commission; Nate Welker of the U.S. Forest Service; Dan Glotz, Warren County Planning Director; Robert Cochran, PGC; Rich Cramer, PGC; Cole Cerra, Chapman Park Ranger; Dana Crisp, DCNR Assistant Regional Manager; and Barry Wutz, Park Ranger at Chapman State Park.
The Allegheny Watershed Improvement Needs Coalition (WINs) set about to reconstruct this old road which also creates the North Country Connector Trail (NCCT). The NCCT connects the recreationally diverse Chapman State Park to the NCT and in turn other recreational sites on the equally diverse ANF.
The new NCCT allows opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and access for hunting and fishing. The NCCT, now complete, is a model project that demonstrates how ecological problems, restoration and recreational improvements are a cause and effect resulting in benefits for the earth, the wildlife and the people.
One of the goals of the U.S. Forest Service on the ANF is to work across boundaries to accomplish goals.
Key partners in this project include the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council, Northwest Commission, Warren County Planning and Zoning Commission, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Allegheny Outdoor Club, and the USFS.
WINs pre-project monitoring fish surveys were completed in July of 2008 and macro-invertebrate surveys were completed in the spring of 2009.
The NCCT was added to Warren County's Greenways Plan in August of 2008.
DCNR, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and USFS completed a shoreline stabilization project in Chapman State Park in October of 2008.
USFS, PGC, AOC, and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy completed a road decommissioning project on SGL29 in May 2009 (see Earth Day 2009).
In May 2010, DCNR partnered with Penn Soil RC&D Council to obtain a $10,000 Northwest Greenways Grant to reconstruct the Chapman State Park portion of the NCCT.
In May 2011 Chapman State Park personnel worked with Penn DOT crews through an Agility Agreement to place 200 tons of limestone along the portion of the trail through Chapman SP. This portion of the trail is now complete.
In fall of 2013, kiosks were installed at each end of the trail to inform visitors about the trail and other recreational opportunities in immediate area