Thanks to volunteer efforts from the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), an AmeriCorps program, a new trail will be constructed at the Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, leading from the park office at the base of the mountain to where the current trails exist.
The NCCC, while in Ashe County, will be living up to its mission statement, when helps develop leaders and strengthen communities through teamwork with national and community service.
There will be eight volunteers who will devote two months of service to helping with the trail construction. New River State Park Supervisor Joseph Shimel said they hope the trails will be complete during the time the AmeriCorps volunteers are here.
“The trail will start at the park office and go up the mountain,” he said. “(The trail) will go up to all of the summit overlooks and all the way up to the summit parking lot where it will link up with the existing trail system.”
The AmeriCorps team is led by Team leader Cayde Sprecker and will engage in other projects, including cutting back overgrowth and brush, organizing, and supervising local volunteer groups, in an effort to keep Mount Jefferson State Natural Area preserved for the citizens and visitors of Ashe County.
“It is a great opportunity for us to get a lot of work out of this program,” Shimel said. “We can’t wait to open this trail up.”
The volunteers work for 10 months full time and is open to men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 to help communities. The teams are organized into teams of eight to 12 members.
Shimel said the trail will greatly help the quality of life opportunities within the county. The park’s goal for opening up the trail to the public will be by the fall of this year.
“Once we finish this, we will have between five and six miles of hiking trails there at the mountain,” he said. “Once we get this completed, I believe it will be the best and one of the longer trail systems in Ashe County. We just don’t have a lot of long hiking here at all.”
Americorps NCCC serves in five regions of the nation meeting needs including: disaster services, environmental stewardship, energy conservation, urban and rural development and the improvement of infrastructure. Volunteers do different activities ranging from responding to disasters and constructing homes, to developing trails and the oversight of emergency shelters.
Upon the volunteers’ completion of service, thy receive an education award of $5,500 which can be used to either pay tuition or qualified student loans. In addition, the volunteers receive training through CPR, first aid and leadership, project development and work experience.
The volunteers arrived in Ashe County on July 10, and will stay in the area through Sept. 9.
The NCCC is one of the three programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
For more information on the NCCC, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov/. Those interested in volunteering for the NCCC, visit http://www.americorps.gov/nccc.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.