New Cumberland Gap Trail Alliance seeking members

Published 3:46 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A new organization is forming to promote the trails and other outdoor activities in and around the Cumberland Gap region. The Cumberland Gap Trail Alliance held a public interest meeting on Sunday afternoon at Berkau Park.

“The idea started to be a voice for the trails that are working to build their way through Cumberland Gap and to provide them with representation here and boots on the ground, said Mary Mars, who organized and led the meeting. “We are now looking to expand that into all aspects of outdoor recreation in the area. We want local people to get outside and enjoy the outdoor resources we have here as well as showing people from outside our region what we have to offer.”

Claiborne County Mayor Joe Brooks and Cumberland Gap Mayor Neal Pucciarelli were among a group of about 20 people who attended the meeting.

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It was announced in November that the Alliance was one of seven community partners in the southeast that would be receiving expert consultation from the National Park Service. Many historic and current trails intersect in the area, including the Warrior’s Path Trail, Boone Trace Trail, Cumberland Trail and the Great Eastern Trail.

To better coordinate these trails and their planning efforts, the City of Cumberland Gap is seeking to create a new trails alliance in the form of an overarching organization that will provide a common forum for trail users, education, advocacy, coordination, maintenance and trail master planning to identify and address gaps in the overall trail network. The City also is looking to become an official Tennessee Trail Town, and the NPS will assist with organizational development and strategic planning to establish a framework to guide Cumberland Gap Trail Alliance partners in the future.

The current mission statement for the Alliance is working to bring together trail organizations, parks, local communities and volunteers to coordinate, promote, educate and expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the area surrounding Cumberland Gap.

Mars said that mission statement can be a little more defined once a board of directors is established for the group. She said the biggest need right now is for interested people to get involved.

“We need folks who are motivated to help promote the Cumberland Gap region in whatever capacity they are willing to do that. We need people to take on leadership roles, folks who might be interested in guiding hikes, putting on educational workshops, volunteers to help with trail maintenance, everything,” she said, adding that even people who don’t consider themselves avid outdoorsmen can help. “We need people who can write a press release, help with finances, help us get grant money, if you’re an organized leader in any field we can benefit from having you join our forces.”

The next meeting will be April 14 at 2 p.m. at Berkau Park in Cumberland Gap. You can learn more about the Alliance by visiting their Facebook page.