Black Mountain Greenways and Trails partners with National Park Service for special grant

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The National Park Service has granted support for the Black Mountain Greenways and Trails Committee to pursue a Trail Town designation.

The Black Mountain Greenways and Trails Committee received a grant of support, but not for funding. 

"It's an expertise grant," said Ann Lutz, president of BMGTC. "The National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program come in to your community and helps identify projects within your community."

With the help of the National Park Service, BMGTC hopes to designate Black Mountain an official Trail Town. According to a statement from the park service, BMGTC will reimagine existing concepts and strategic plans through a 25 acre master plan, strengthening the organizational structure of the committee. 

For BMGTC, project assistance means completing the town's greenway master plan. Lutz said the grant came about through other partners of BMGTC including the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce, the town of Black Mountain and Connect Buncombe, a nonprofit supporting greenway growth throughout the county.

"(NPS) will be helping Ann and her committee work through hopefully getting land easements for development of new greenways throughout town," said Mark Cobb, president of the board of Connect Buncombe. "They have expertise for how to go about that."

Founded in 2021, BMGTC is still fairly new to the Black Mountain greenways scene. The committee is a citizens group, made up of local town residents. Cobb said Lutz approached Connect Buncombe to first establish a partnership.

Lutz said she was first approached about pursuing a Trail Town designation by Sharon Tabor, director of the Chamber of Commerce. A designation would help the town connect trails locally as well as throughout the region.

"We have two large regional trails coming through town," Lutz said. "The Fonta Flora State Trail, which goes 100 miles from Morganton to Asheville, and the Hellbender Trail."

Unfortunately, for the time being, Lutz said the town doesn't have the infrastructure necessary for these regional trails to pass through Black Mountain. 

Partnering with the town as well as the park service will allow for an overview of the current and planned greenway system in Black Mountain, according to Lutz. She said this will clarify what needs to be done to help facilitate connections between regional trails and connections within the town.

"This is not a monetary grant," Lutz said. "Because we are, right now, a partner with the National Park Service, it gives us advantages in applying for federal money to complete projects."

Lutz thanked the town for its continued support of the committee as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Connect Buncombe. She said the help of these partners will be beneficial for BMGTC to utilize the park service grant.

"We're just really excited to be the recipient of this grant," Lutz said. "We want to take full advantage of all the services that the park service can offer us."

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.