BLACKSBURG — Draft plans have been unveiled for a new network of natural trails on Brush Mountain.
Project diagrams, viewable on Blacksburg’s town website, were put on display Thursday night during an information session at the Blacksburg Library.
More than 100 people attended the event, which was hosted in part to field community questions about the recreational project.
The network of dirt trails are set to be located on two properties totaling 552 acres located north of Meadowbrook Drive, close to Gateway and Heritage parks in northwest Blacksburg.
The New River Land Trust purchased the Brush Mountain properties with the aid of a $1.2 million grant originating from payments generated from the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline to offset the surface impacts caused by the project’s construction.
The trail concept plan proposes adding approximately 9 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, among other recreational options.
On a greater scale, the network will be near the Huckleberry Trail, which provides a nearly contiguous recreational pathway from Christiansburg to the Jefferson National Forest.
“All the connectivity really makes it an exciting project,” said John Eustis , the New River Land Trust’s executive director. “Not every community has that. I think it’s going to be huge.”
Eustis said on Thursday that there’s been increasing demand for the kind of community asset the project proposes to create.
While the grant paid for the acquisition of the properties and provided funds for ecological enhancements, Eustis said his organization is now working on raising more money for the trails themselves.
The project has received $25,000 in community donations, but a campaign set to begin in January will seek another $50,000 from local businesses , Eustis said.
The properties that the New River Land Trust bought separately are 334 acres and 218 acres. The land trust plans to transfer 97 acres of the 334-acre property to the U.S. Forest Service.
The land trust then plans to transfer the remaining 238 acres — and the other 218-acre property — to the town of Blacksburg next year.
Many of those who attended Thursday’s information session voiced general support for the project, but also asked that the trails accommodate a variety of outdoor enthusiasts.
They also asked that safeguards be put in place to address user safety and protect nearby Brush Mountain property owners .
“I’m super excited. I think it’s a quality of life improvement,” said Ken Lee, a Blacksburg resident who lives off Glade Road. “More options out the door. It’s the reason we live here.”
Lee was among those who asked that more accommodations be made to protect bikers in that area, particularly on Glade Road where traffic has steadily increased .
Lee also voiced concerns about accommodations being made to property owners who live almost adjacent to where the trails are being proposed.