Green Creek Trail future tabled until October 26

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BLUE RIDGE, Ga – Fannin Commissioners tabled the decision to move forward with a grant for Green Creek Trail until they can gather more information.

Economic Development Director Christie Gribble presented details about the trail. Green Creek Trail is located by the boat launch and is currently a decommissioned campground at the Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area. The trail loop around the old campground with the grant would be brought up to ADA standards for people with disabilities.

In 2017, the Forest Service approached the previous board about applying for the Roads and Trails Program (RTP) grant with the federal government to improve Green Creek Trail. They chose not to pursue the grant because of priorities with Horseshoe Bend Park.

Chairman Jamie Hensley asked if the possibility of reopening the campground was included in 2017. It was not.

“Getting the campground rehabbed from what I understand from the Forest Service…is an extremely lengthy process,” Gribble explained. “There has not been too much conservation about it. This is not related to the campground.”

Hensley lamented that the trail project didn’t include the possibility of reopening the campground.

Post Two Glenn Patterson stated the trail project might be a step in the right direction.

The grant would improve the one-mile trail loop around the outer edge of the old campground, the inner trails are not included. The kiosks and the trailhead are part of the improvements and ramps as well as slopes would need to be built for handicapped individuals.

The trail is already asphalt.

Signage and maintenance plan would be a part of the updates too. The road department and recreation department now collaborate on maintenance of the area.

The maximum grant amount is $200,000 and a grant match is required by the county of at least 20 percent. Gribble recommended Fannin commit to a $50,000 match. It’s a reimbursement grant as well so the county would need to budget the $250,000 in the 2023 year and will receive $200,000 back after completing the process.

SPLOST and tourism project development fund could potentially be used to fund the project.

Post One Johnny Scearce didn’t necessarily see the benefit of fixing the trail if the campground wasn’t going to be reopened. He also wanted to know why the Forest Service couldn’t manage the updates.

“We have to spend money to get money to fix someone else’s problem,” Scearce added.

Gribble explained that the Forest Service has a cost-share agreement with Fannin that states Fannin can maintain and make improvements to the property. Forest Service owns the property.

“It’s also an asset to Fannin County. It’s a well-used trail. I think it could be a great improvement. It could offer an opportunity to people who may not have a place to go see the lake,” Gribble added.

Public Works Director Zach Ratcliff confirmed that the traffic in the area is “unbelievable” for people who use the trail.

The grant also stipulates that the trail must be maintained for 20 years and Gribble things that reopening the campground might make that more difficult.

She recommended a conversation with Forest Service Agent Towdy Tifton to provide the commissioners with further clarity on the campground.

“I think it’s a good investment. I think it will pay for itself in the long run,” Patterson stated, “That being said, I’m open to being open to listening to what you fellows would like to say.”

Hensley added there’s “uncertainty” about the project and would like to clear that up before approving or denying the grant.

The grant application is due on November 1, 2021. It will be discussed again at the October 26 county meeting.

 

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