Thank you for your interest in Standing Boy Trails! I promise future posts will be more succinct and do what blogs are supposed to do: provide updates on what’s currently going on. There’s just a lot that needs to be said in this initial post.
This is Blake Melton. I am going to post in the first person to make these posts less staid and absolve other supporters of any blame for incorrect or otherwise inadvisable posts.
It is way, way too early for a victory speech, but getting to where we currently are represents a significant milestone that deserves a moment of celebration and thanks.
This project has been a huge part of my life going on four years. I would have given up long ago and we wouldn’t be where we are now without the support of numerous individuals and organizations. I would love to thank each and every person and organization individually, but there simply isn’t room. My apologies to everyone not mentioned by name.
I appreciate Commissioner Mark Williams, Deputy Commissioner Terry West, Rusty Garrison (Director of Wildlife Resources), Michael Roy (Chief Engineer), Wes Robinson (Director of Public and Governmental Affairs), Kevin Kramer (boots on the ground at Standing Boy), and others at the Department of Natural Resources. My understanding is that our community asked them to do something fairly different and unique with Standing Boy. They are all busy individuals, and it would have been easy for them to say no and move on to other issues. I appreciate their listening to what our community wanted and working in partnership with us to make it happen. They are all good guys I have enjoyed getting to know.
I appreciate Trail Solutions, and especially Rich Edwards and Steve Kasacek. Without their mission-based, make-the-world-a-better-place approach there is absolutely no way we’d be where we are today. While it’s true we are paying them for design and construction, we are not paying them for the many, many, many hours they have spent holding my hand, coaching me up, answering my unending emails, and participating in numerous and lengthy conference calls to get us to the design and construction stages. Similar things can be said about many others at SORBA (both regionally and locally) and IMBA, but there are too many to list.
I appreciate the Chattahoochee Valley Community Foundation, and especially Betsy Covington, for agreeing to establish the Standing Boy Trails Fund. Betsy’s experience, knowledge, and patience have been invaluable. Partnering with the CVCF has proved beneficial in ways I didn’t even anticipate and may be the smartest move I’ve made on this whole project.
Thanks to Reggie Luther (of Big Dog Running and Iron Bank fame) at TracSoft for donating his company’s time to build us a basic web page. As anyone who knows me well can attest, I damn sure didn’t build this thing myself!
Thanking all of the other individuals and organizations listed under the “Community” tab would take up way too much space, but I am deeply grateful to each and every one of them for believing in this idea (and maybe to some extent in me) and taking a risk while this project was in its infancy. I am especially grateful to the Bradley-Turner Foundation, which pledged $100,000 before we even knew whether we wanted them to pay the grant to the local SORBA chapter, the CVCF, or somewhere else. Their early support gave us legitimacy and momentum, and without it, this project would have died.
Finally, thanks to my wife Jensen and our five- and six-year-old girls. They have supported and tolerated my obsession with this project over the past years and graciously accepted the time it has taken away from them. This past December my oldest told me she wanted to get her friends bike riding lessons for Christmas so they could go mountain biking with her. I promised her I’d deliver – maybe not in the way she was thinking, but hopefully in a way that’s much bigger.
That is more than enough victory speech for now, because there is much work left to be done. First of all, we are more than aware that building the trail is just the beginning. We have to manage it, maintain it, and educate and develop users. Rest assured we have plans for all those tasks and intend to work just as hard at them as we have at building the trail. However, none of those issues matter if we don’t have any trail, so we’ll leave them for another day.
Two main hurdles remain to building the trail: (1) finalization of the trail corridors based on environmental and archeological surveys and (2) the ubiquitous issue of funding.
Calling the environmental and archeological surveys a hurdle is really a misnomer because all supporters of this project and Trail Solutions take stewardship of the environment and archeological resources seriously. Rich and Steve have laid out the trail with awareness of these issues, and they are cautiously optimistic we won’t have any serious problems. However, there’s no way to be sure until the surveys are actually completed.
If there are issues, it should just involve rerouting sections of the trail. We’ll know in the next few months. In the meantime, there’s nothing for any of us to do. We just need to let the professionals do their jobs and keep our fingers crossed.
The hurdle we need help clearing is funding. The final master plan with final cost estimates should be in hand within a few weeks. Our current estimate is a total cost of $1.75M for 25 miles of professionally designed and constructed trail. This is a lot of money to be sure, but also somewhat of a bargain in comparison to the cost of building other recreational facilities and amenities. At the time of this post, we have about $700K. This is a great start, but leaves us a long way to go.
Please take the following actions to support this project:
- Donate. Even if you can’t donate at one of the recognized levels, donate what you can – and please do it now. If the great mass of folks excited about this project sit back and wait on a handful of foundations and individuals to fully fund the project, the project will fail.
- Spread the Word. Share this website and our Instagram page with everyone you know, might know, once knew, or think you once knew. Tell them how excited you are about the project and how much you think it will mean to Columbus. Encourage them to donate.
- Join an Advocacy Group. Use the links on the Donate page to learn more about and join CVA SORBA, the Columbus Road Runners, and the Pine Mountain Trail Association.
Finally, please spend some time perusing the FAQ page and looking at some of the many hyperlinks. Trails are a topic where a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you! There are many more worthwhile causes than any of us have time, energy, or money. Thank you for giving some of your time and energy (and hopefully money!) to this project.