Recreational plans for Upper Kanawha Valley moving forward by commission

MALDEN, W.Va. — Plans are moving along for a major recreation project in the Upper Kanawha Valley. It’s a project that Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango calls ‘one of the largest ever done’ in the county.

Salango provided an update of the recreational tourism plan that will bring in hiking trails, bike trails, the Hatfield McCoy trail, and utilization to rivers to that portion of the county.

He said the commission has hired an engineer through Civil and Environmental Consultants, the same firm that completed the master plan, and work is well underway. Salango said money has been allocated to tear down blighted structures in the Montgomery area where the trail will be in place.

In March, a POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was awarded to the commission in the amount of $675,210. Following matched funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Kanawha County Commission, the total project allocation is $1.2 million.

In 2021, the Kanawha County Commission completed a major outdoor recreation-based economic development strategy and master plan for the Upper Kanawha Valley, the 30-mile area from just east of Charleston to the town of Gauley Bridge in Fayette County.

Salango said part of the next step is to hire an Upper Kanawha Valley Plan Executive Director.

“We’re looking for somebody that is motivated, that understands the Upper Kanawha Valley, someone that can get the job done. it’s a massive project. Quite frankly, it’s going to be one of the biggest projects Kanawha County has ever done,” Salango said.

Salango said a lot of the project will be implemented in the next 12-24 months and the jeep trail may open in six months.

The commission will continue to meet with local citizens and officials about the county’s ATV ordinance. Salango said changes need to happen in order to keep up with this recreational plan.

Meetings will take place in Belle and Marmet on Monday and Tuesday.

“What we’re trying to do is come up with a reasonable solution that provides safety for riders and for other motorists. Also, one that we’ll be able to generate business,” Salango said.