Polk to apply for PARTF grant for trail system 

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Grant is $125K for Little White Oak Mountain hiking/biking trails 


MILL SPRING—Polk County has decided to apply for a North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant to help create a new hiking and biking trail system.  

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The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and approved the parks and recreation department applying for a $125,000 grant. The PARTF grant is a 50/50 match, but the county plans to use other grants and donations to pay the match.  

Commissioners heard from parks and recreation director Jerry Stensland on Monday.  

Stensland said the grant application is due on May 1.  

The county acquired 300 acres of Little White Oak Mountain directly behind Polk County Middle School and the county’s recreation complex off Wolverine Trail in Mill Spring. The acreage was acquired by Conserving Carolina, who gave the land for well below what it was worth and from a PARTF grant.   

Conserving Carolina acquired the former Foster Creek Preserve, which is over 1,000 acres of a planned housing development that fell through in Columbus. The trail system the county’s recreation department plans to develop is located just behind Polk County Middle School in Mill Spring, with the entrance to the system being by the parking lots at the county’s recreation complex 

“The Little White Oak Mountain property was purchased with a PARTF grant and provides a 300-acre addition to our existing recreation complex near Polk County Middle School,” Stensland said. “The trail system is proposed for mountain biking and hiking and will be 8-10 miles long.”  

The trail system will be the first public mountain biking system in the county.  

The recreation department is seeking grants from three sources in order to hire a professional trail building company to construct the trails.  

The county was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation and is also seeking a $100,000 grant from the Recreation Trails Program, which is another state grant. The grants and $5,000 worth of donations and in-kind contributions will serve as the 50 percent match to the PARTF grant, if awarded. The total budget for the trail system is proposed at $250,000, with no county dollars expected to fund the project.  

Conserving Carolina’s project on the former Foster Creek Preserve also includes approximately 30 acres developed by workforce housing, which is a program for working families to help build their own homes to make them more affordable. Some of the property has also been donated for state game lands with better access, since the property borders existing game lands.  

Once Polk County constructs its trail system, the county’s AmeriCorp trails coordinator will maintain the trails with volunteers.  


Polk County trail system budget 

PCCF grant$20,000 

Donations/in-kind  $5,000 

RTP grant (pending)$100,000 

PARTF grant (pending)$125,000