April 2021 | Vol. 1, Issue 4
Message from the Director
Spring Cleaning Time at Spearhead Trails
The long winter is over, and we hope the last of the snow has fallen! This means it’s time for spring cleaning and grooming for Spearhead Trails. We’ve been busy getting staff and equipment ready, as well as securing any necessary permits.
Riders and trail users need to be aware that our rangers will be out in force mowing, weed eating, planting wildflowers, and fixing ruts and maintaining our erosion control best management practices over the next several months. Our crews will be working mainly during the week to perform this work. As such, riders should use caution and be alert as many will begin riding our trails with the onset of nice weather.
Caution should also be used as spring storms can cause further issues. A green trail can quickly become a black trail.
If you see a problem, either let a ranger know or call (276)807-7581 or (276)220-9875.
We’ll need the following information:
* Describe the problem
* Provide the location (with the nearest intersecting trails)
* Name of the trail system (we have 7) you’re riding (or if you’re on one of our nonmotorized trails)
Once we receive your information, we’ll resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
With 600+ miles of trails, having additional eyes out for any issues helps us keep the trails safe and environmentally compliant.
L. Shawn Lindsey
Meet Virginia State Senator Travis Hackworth – Part 1
With the unfortunate passing of Senator Ben Chafin on January 1 due to COVID-19, a special election was held March 23 in the 38th district. (This district covers the northern portion of Spearhead Trails.) The massive 38th Senate District stretches from Radford to Big Stone Gap and includes all or part of nine counties and two cities.
With 76% of the vote, Senator Travis Hackworth easily retained the Virginia state Senate seat for Republicans, defeating Democrat Laurie Buchwald. Senator Hackworth was born in Richlands, Tazewell County, VA in 1975. He previously worked five years as the Northwestern Supervisor for Tazewell County.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Senator Hackworth. Here are the highlights from our conversation:
Q: Why should others want to visit southwest Virginia?
I’m a traveler. I’ve been to a lot of different countries and have traveled all over the United States. But there’s nothing like the beauty of southwest Virginia.
Southwest Virginia is rich in culture, heritage, tenacity and vision. There’s nowhere I would rather call home. I grew up here, raised my children here, worshipped here, and built businesses here.
The Appalachian Mountains are just gorgeous. We have four seasons. We have a growing elk population. You no longer have to go out to the Rockies to see elk. There are several craft breweries — for those that enjoy them — as well as kayaking, Breaks Interstate Park, and we have Spearhead Trails, which is just phenomenal.
Outdoor adventure is really taking roots here in southwest Virginia. People love the Southern hospitality. Visitors love to have the people here just embrace them. It’s one of the few places in the nation where if you have a flat tire or break down, you’ll have two to three people stop and help you. But they’ll not just stop and help you but also give you a lift and sometimes even buy you dinner.
That’s just who we are. It’s not a front we put on. People in the Appalachians can be clannish, they’re very loyal, but very hospitable.
Q: What’s your experience with southwest Virginia’s outdoor recreation?
When I was just a kid growing up, we had these “outlaw” trails. I grew up on a 3-wheeler, and we’d ride these mining roads, logging roads, gas roads. As a young adult, we got a 4-wheeler, and on the evenings and weekends a caravan of us would load up and we’d hit these trails. We’d take our wives, our families, pack a lunch and just go out and spend the day on the trails. We have a network of people nationwide through our church, our ministry, our business and other organizations, and we’d invite them, and they’d just fall in love with the area and the mountains.
I love the outdoor adventures. We often said, “Man it would be great if someone could commercialize this and have somebody that was over this.”
And sure enough, Spearhead Trails had come along and had the same idea.
Q: What’s it been like since recently being elected as a Virginia state senator?
I love getting to know people and working across the aisle. Love making a deal — that’s really what politics is about. Being willing to sit down with people of different opinions and reaching an agreement.
In part 2 of our interview with Senator Hackworth (coming in our May newsletter), he discusses the economic impact of Spearhead Trials, as well as his plans to boost the southwest Virginia economy
Free Day Pass for COVID Health Care Workers
The Board of Directors of Southwest Regional Recreation Authority/Spearhead Trails is honoring COVID front-line health care workers with a free day pass for their hard work and sacrifice in fighting this global pandemic. This includes paramedics, doctors, nurses, therapists, mental health workers, hospital food service workers, and janitorial staff who worked with the public in the healthcare profession during the pandemic.
The free day pass is worth $30 and is available anytime in July by following these 3 simple steps:
1. Email proof of eligibility to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The proof needs to include a description of your work during the pandemic and proof of employment (such as a picture of your employee identification badge or letter from your employer).
2. Choose from one of these 3-day passes: motorized trails, Sportsman Complex or Activity Center
3. Indicate the day you would like to use your free day pass. Upon receipt of your email, you’ll receive a waiver to complete.
The Sportsman Complex — opening later this spring — features archery and gun ranges. The new Activity Center — opening this July — features a climbing gym, ax throwing, batting cages, 4D archery simulator, skate park, and other games.
“This is a small way of saying thank you,” said Spearhead Trails Chairman Jack “Mack” McClanahan. “Thank you for saving our lives and lives of our families during this most challenging year! We hope to see you soon.”
7 Tips for Being a Good Neighbor
1. Don’t wander. Stay on approved trails and avoid damaging private property or getting into a wetland or creek and damaging our region’s beautiful wildlife.
2. Leave no trace. If you pack it in, then pack it out. If you see trash, please pick it up. It takes everyone to make and keep the trails clean. Your help is always appreciated!
3. Safe passing. When you see another group coming your direction, look for a wide section of trail to pull off and let them pass. If you’re in the front of a group passing someone pulled over, then give them the number of riders to expect that are following you so they don’t pull out into the trail too soon. You can do this by stopping to tell them or by holding up the numbers of riders with your hands.
4. Be a Good Samaritan. If you see someone in trouble, stop and help if you feel comfortable doing so. Otherwise, call for help.
5. Show respect to communities. Slow down when approaching a residential area or commercial area on an ATV route or a trailhead. This will help prevent kicking up dust, reducing your noise, and showing respect to those who live near an ATV trail.
6. Make friends. Use social distancing and/or a mask when seeing groups or visiting your favorite restaurant. But don’t be a stranger and hide behind your mask — part of the fun of any adventure is making new friends.
7. Permit easily visible. Be sure to keep your annual permit on the left side of your helmet and be prepared to stop if you see a ranger. Having the permit (or a day pass) on your left side allows the ranger to check you quickly and allow you to continue on your adventure. If you trade out helmets from winter to spring, then use two-sided tape for easy transfer.
Signage and Wayfinding System Updating Plans
Spearhead Trails will be revamping our signage and wayfinding system over the next year with a Recreational Trails Grant administered through the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Riders will find that maps books will soon be published for the Motorized Off-Highway Trails or ATV Trails and one for the backroads of the Cumberland Routes. These will be much nicer than our throw-away maps and include additional information to help you navigate our trails, as well as travel from trail to trail.
In addition to nicer maps, we’ll have kiosk and picnic areas on each trail system with information about the trails, area, history, geology and culture of the region. The new trail signs will supplement existing signs and give distances and directions to trailheads, places of interest on the trails, towns, food, and fuel — much like the highway system. We have “decent” maps now, but you have to be a good map reader. The signage we install will allow you to navigate to places of interest and trailheads easier with a map most of the time — even if you don’t have a map or are not skilled with maps.
We’ll still publish our trails maps in form of PDFs, Google Maps, KML files and, in the future, GPX files. GPX files can be downloaded into a GPX reader to navigate the trails much like you would on other apps. We also hope to soon provide our own Spearhead Trails app that will feature information about our trails, businesses around our trails, a calendar of events, and more.
Give Back to the Community
Did you hear about these two new initiatives?
• Spearhead Trails Adventure Recreations Center – This spring we will be opening our first STAR center a 22,000+ square foot Activity Center in our new headquarters, currently under construction in Coeburn, VA (at the old Coeburn Home Supply warehouse). This facility will feature an axe throwing center, indoor skate park, and a climbing/bouldering gym — along with baseball and softball batting cages. This new Activity Center will host programs geared towards our youth, workforce, and tourists. It will be open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., 7 days a week giving our visitors something to do at night and on a rainy day.
• Sportsman Facilities – We’re also in the process of building new Sportsman Facilities in Clintwood, VA. This will include rifle, pistol and shotgun ranges of all types, as well as a variety of archery ranges. In addition, we partnered with Clintwood Bible Church to offer indoor archery year-round in their unused gymnasium.
To make these initiatives a reality, we need your support. In exchange for your tax-deductible donation, you’ll receive free day passes to any of our new indoor or outdoor recreational activities and recognition.
Simply download this donation slip, choose which projects you would like to donate to, and return this slip with your donation. Once your donation is received, we’ll rush your free day passes to you. Regardless of what you choose to donate to, you can use your passes for any of these new activities.
In addition to monetary donations, you can also donate building supplies.
Your generous donation will also be recognized with a plaque located at the facility.
Being a nonprofit, generous support from community members like you is key for allowing Southwest Regional Recreation Authority (a.k.a., Spearhead Trails) to continue developing recreational activities that provide an enormous positive impact in our region. Our 600+ miles of trail systems throughout Southwest Virginia is currently producing an economic impact for the Commonwealth of Virginia of over $25 million annually and created more than 250 full-time jobs.
Join Spearhead Trailblazers
Please sign up below to be a volunteer with Spearhead Trailblazers. This is our friends’ group, and they do many activities to help the various communities we serve. Last year they participated in 16 events and raised over $600 funding for local charities (including P.A.W.S of Russell County, Toys for Tots, The Friends of the J. Fred Matthews Memorial Library, and the Town of Coeburn – Ringley Park). Spearhead Trailblazers was also able to donate over 300 hours for community service though the USDA – Forest, community projects, and the Adopt-a-Street program.