By Stacy OuelletteJune 25, 2013
RAYSTOWN LAKE, Pa. -- A new 2.3 mile pathway around the Seven Points Recreation Area -- made 100 percent out of recycled materials - should reduce traffic congestion, increase pedestrian safety, and provide a healthy alternate to driving.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District celebrated an America's Great Outdoors event to officially open Raystown Lake's Greenside Pathway, June 20.
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, was the keynote speaker for the formal presentation taking place at Raystown Lake Amphitheatre.
"The trail here at Raystown is a perfect example of how we in the Corps (USACE) are incorporating the President's initiative on America's Great Outdoors and his sustainability initiative," Darcy said. "This trail was made from recycled rubber. It looks beautiful, is easy to maintain and connects 19 different sites within this park."
And Greenside Pathway promises to connect visitors to nature.
"The trail gives us an opportunity to connect people to the America's Great Outdoors, to link the visitors to a healthier lifestyle, and educate visitors about a greener way of life," said Jude Harrington, Raystown Lake acting operations manager.
Made of 38,000 recycled tires, the trail serves as a tangible symbol of environmental stewardship, said Brig. Gen. Kent Savre, USACE North Atlantic Division commander.
"The trail actually does a lot of things -- it promotes safety by keeping people off the roads, fitness, environmental stewards and it's a first-class trail that ties all the facilities here together," Savre said.
But the main force that drove the project from its inception was safety for the popular and busy recreation area.
"The project started with a simple goal of getting our visitors off of this road as it was very dangerous," Harrington said. "We have the number one revenue generating campgrounds in all the whole Corps of Engineers and the largest marina in the state of Pennsylvania."
As the largest recreation provider within the federal government, USACE facilities receive more than 370 million visitors a year. Ninety percent of USACE recreation sites are easily accessible being located within a 50- mile radius of a metropolitan area, Darcy said.
"The recreation side of our house is a result of many of our construction projects. We have dams that have created lakes like Raystown and because of that, we have provided this huge recreation facility for the State of Pennsylvania for everybody to enjoy," Darcy said. "We're pretty proud of that and when you think of that red castle next time, think of it next to a lake," she added.
The pathway was made possible by a grant for $854,450 provided by the Federal Transit Administration's Alternative Transportation in the Parks and Public Lands Program. Raystown Lake was the only USACE project to receive money from this funding source at the time, Harrington said.
Partnerships are the key factor in getting the word out about USACE recreation sites, and those relationships also provide volunteers nationwide.
One of USACE's greatest partnerships is with the people who use the facilities. USACE is known for its dams and reservoirs, but the facilities do not enjoy the same type of fame, Darcy said.
"It's the people that live nearby who treasure the resources and help us to provide our recreational services," Darcy said. "We've had 55,000 volunteers to help us (nationwide). We have recreation sites in 43 of our 50 states."
A ribbon cutting ceremony took place after the formal presentation at the kiosk adjacent to the trail near the Huntingdon County Visitor's Bureau.
Following the ribbon cutting, distinguished guests, Darcy and Maj. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, USACE deputy commanding general for civil works and emergency operations planted two American Chestnut trees with Boy Scouts from Troop 24. The planting was in partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation.
Go to www.recreation.gov for more information on USACE run recreation sites nationwide.