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Penn Soil RC&D Completes Trail Improvement Project at Erie Bluffs State Park

Project Partners Joy Knapp, of Erie County Greenways Program; Jen Feehan of the Northwest Commission Greenways Block Grant Program; Holly Best of PA DCNR Erie Bluffs State Park, and Wes Ramsey of Penn Soil RC&D Council cut the ribbon at an informal ribbon cutting at the Wildflower way Trailhead at Erie Bluffs State Park.

In February of 2016, Penn Soil RC&D Council agreed to a request from Erie Bluffs State Park personnel to act as a fiscal agent and applicant for grant funding to pursue funding for improvements to the trail system at Erie Bluffs State Park. PA DCNR staff agreed to provide the necessary matching funds and in-kind match that would be required for the grant application. Penn Soil RC&D met with DCNR staff and potential contractors to develop a project plan and realistic cost estimate for a potential trail improvement project. A grant proposal was developed requesting over 60 thousand dollars toward a $91,000 project.

An Erie County Greenways Award contract for $22,000 was awarded and accepted by Penn Soil RC&D Council on June 29, 2016. The scope of the project was reduced due to limited funding availability and consisted of providing engineering, design, and construction of a culvert in a deep ravine and rehabilitation of 2-3 adjoining trail ingress/egress segments on Fisherman’s Footpath in the Erie Bluffs Trail System using DCNR best management practices. Results will improve surface water management, reduce sediment pollution, and enhance the visitor experience. The project scope also included engineering, design, and construction of informational trail signage in the park. The second grant application in the fall of 2016 to the Northwest Commission sought additional funds to continue rehabilitating the more than 2 miles of trails in Erie Bluffs State Park. This additional work was designed to reduce soil erosion, and provide dramatic views of Lake Erie to enhance the visitor experience on unfunded sections of the trails. Using funds provided by the Erie County Greenways program, the installation of 30 informational signs throughout the trail network was currently underway, as was the rehabilitation of two trail segments along Fisherman’s Footpath. Northwest Pennsylvania Greenway Block Grant (NPGBG) funds were used to complete the rehabilitation work of Wildflower Way by constructing Trail Reroute 2 and installing stone boxes or other BMPs to reduce soil erosion and restore degraded trail segments.

Utilizing the combined funding of the $22,000 Erie County Greenways Award and the $39,410 Northwest Commission Greenways Block Grant Award, Penn Soil RC&D Council hired Redhorse Environmental LLC to successfully regrade and widen 0.4 miles of existing hiking trail to serve as equipment access for grading and carrying trail surface aggregate and needed culverts to the Fisherman’s Footpath. Redhorse Environmental installed three large culverts across the trail through the deep ravine trouble spot in the Bluffs to carry intermittent stream flow and rainfall runoff from the upslope area. Redhorse also regraded and resurfaced the 1575 feet of trail from the Elk Creek Access Area to the lakeshore. PA DCNR staff manufactured and installed the trail signs throughout the trail network and built a new information kiosk at the Elk Creek Access Area parking lot.

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