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Grant expanded

Polk approves adding 140 acres, outdoor classroom to parks grant for trails

COLUMBUS—The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved adding acquiring 140 acres to its North Carolina Parks and Recreation Grant application for its trail system adjacent to the middle school.

Commissioners met Monday and heard from interim recreation director Laura Baird.

Baird said the county approved applying for the PARTF grant last year but the department now wants to expand the grant to include an outdoor classroom and additional acreage that is being offered to the county. The county acquired 300 acres of Little White Oak Mountain from Conserving Carolina and is now trying to acquire an additional 140 acres to create mountain biking trails. The total grant will be $331,000 with the matched paid for through the value of the donated land, the Polk County Community Foundation ($20,000) and the recreation department ($5,000).

Commissioners approved the application as well as adding a survey conducted by the recreation department to the application.

Baird said if the grant is approved, the project would have to be completed within 3 years.

The Little White Oak Trail network is now planned on over 400 acres that connects to the existing Polk County Recreation Complex and Polk County Middle School, located off Wolverine Trail in Mill Spring.

The trail system will end up being 10-12 miles and include 2 picnic areas and an outdoor classroom, which will be designed and built by the middle school students.

The grant application is for the first phase of the project, which will fund over 5 miles of trail construction, the picnic areas and the outdoor classroom.

The additional 140 acres will allow the county’s trail system to connect to Conserving Carolina’s plan for a future Workforce Housing area.

The county conducted a survey last year with almost 400 responses.

Polk County residents said they would be interested in walking trails at 64 percent and hiking trails at 61 percent. There were 57 percent of people who said they would be most interested in unpaved trails.