RANSON – A quarter mile of redbuds and other native trees have been planted to beautify the scenery for users of the bike and pedestrian trail along W.Va. 9.
The 162 trees were paid for by Project CommuniTree, a state project that implements tree planting initiatives for community beautification and in order to reduce runoff as part of the Chesapeake Bay Initiative.
A total of 162 native species trees, 81 of which were redbuds, were planted along both sides of the Eastern Panhandle Recreational Trail, beginning at its intersection with Currie Road.
Bill Gregg, who works with Project CommuniTree, said the existing trail, which looks out on the highway, was “aesthetically challenging.” He said the trees would enhance the experience of trail users, making the spot a memorable location.
“People will come back because they will remember this trail,” he said.
Bill Yearout, president of Eastern Panhandle Trailblazers, an organization which works to develop the Eastern Panhandel Recreational Trail, said improvements to the trail system could have a major impact on the community, bringing more tourists to Harpers Ferry and other area attractions.
“Trails can really transform a community,” he said.
Yearout said improving the quality of life through construction of trails will have other economic impacts on the area as well.
“Jefferson County have two numbers that are not very good: a very low per capita retail sales number and a very low per capita income number relative to surrounding states. We cannot afford to pay for the stuff that we want and need because of that situation,” Yearout said. “Trails and healthy lifestyles attract people who can afford to live wherever they want to, and those people really boost the ability of our community’s overall economic health.”
The trees were installed by two volunteer groups – one from Harpers Ferry Job Corps and the other from Harpers Ferry Intermediate School.
“Today is a fun community service day for us,” said Anna Stead, business community liason with Job Corps. “We are operated by the U.S. Forest Service, so we try to instill values of community service and land preservation.”
“We do several projects like this a year. We try to focus on ‘going green.’”