A ceremonial check representing the $25,000 grant awarded to the Powell River Trail Project was presented last week. From left are Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel; Fred Luntsford, Appalachia Town Manager; Carl Snodgrass, Wise County economic development director; and Cliff Carson, Wise County Industrial Development Authority vice chairman.

Wise, VA – July 10, 2018 – A $25,000 grant to the Wise County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) for improvements to the Powell River Trail and its trailhead at Appalachia was closed last week by the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).
The trail is a multi-purpose hiking and biking trail featuring two tunnels and two bridges.

“VCEDA was pleased to be able to assist with improvements to the Powell River Trail and Trailhead utilizing our Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “Significant funding from other sources has already been expended on trail development so far and the Wise County IDA has agreed to match the $25,000 being provided by VCEDA.”

The Town of Appalachia, through the use of grant funding and volunteer labor, has already completed Phase I and II of the Powell River Trail that will eventually link the towns of Appalachia and Big Stone Gap in Wise County. Currently, the trail is 1.2 miles long.
A “rails to trails” project, similar to the Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon, the Powell River Trail follows the former route of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from the Town of Appalachia, following the Powell River and traveling through two old railroad tunnels.

“The town of Appalachia, along with a cadre of volunteers with a common goal, has worked diligently in the past several years to transform the abandoned railroad right-of-way into a beautiful scenic walking and bicycle trail along the banks of the Powell River,” said Carl Snodgrass, Wise County economic development director.

“The Wise County Industrial Development Authority recognized the merits of this project and provided the required match for the grant funding from VCEDA that has made possible further development and enhancement of the trailhead,” he added. “The funding enabled the Town of Appalachia to provide for additional parking spaces as well as other amenities that will improve visibility and accessibility for this recreational venue that would otherwise not have been possible without the VCEDA funding.”

The trail, which officially opened October 27, 2017, is also bordered by the Jefferson National Forest.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.