The Yough River Bike Trail is an beautiful part that the people of Connellsville, PA are proud to have. Behind the maintenance is the Yough River Bike Trail Council (YRT), a volunteer group who spearheaded the building of a 23 mile section that comes through the town. They are solely responsible for maintaining the trail from mile 74 near Bruner Run in Ohiopyle, to mile 105 in the Layon/Whitsett area. The time and money that goes in to keeping the trail able to be ridden and accessible far exceeds what most expect.
Local businesses are impacted greatly by the presence and condition of the trail, giving Connellsville more restaurants, hotels, and shops. With this in mind, owner of local business The Health Insurance Store, Aaron Zolbrod, sat with the the president of the YRT, Ted Kovall.
During this meeting, Ted expressed the level of effort that goes in to maintaining the bike trail, with multiple members and volunteers putting in 300+ hours per month. Thanks to this effort, the stretch of the trail from Connellsville to Ohiopyle is often regarded as the best part of the 150 mile Greater Allegheny Passage. With this in mind, there have been problem areas that have arisen, and difficulties getting the money and volunteers needed - take a look at this email from YRT President, Ted Koval:
"Phase 1 of the project will begin in late summer or early fall after the height of the tourism season. Cost of the project is estimated around $320,000 that will replace a lot of the old railroad drains that are clogged or not large enough to drain the water and debris. It will also clear the canopy in the more remote areas of the trail to allow large trucks to raise their beds as they deliver stone and dust. There will also be trees and brush clearing along the trail to make it more manageable for our volunteers to keep the trail cut and clear. There are a lot of rock and dirt slides that needs removed to allow ditch cleaning and reconstruction.
So far, we have been approved for grants but must raise $17,000 in matching funds in order to get them.
Yough River Trail Council (YRTC) has fundraisers each year that raise about $15 - 17,000 but we also have a loan on a new tractor that requires about $13,000 per year to pay off what we owe. We also have other expenses that need money such as fuel, campground materials, electric costs and small tools and equipment costs each month that amount to about $3000 per year.
There are always unexpected expenses that come along such as replacing parts on our equipment, renting large equipment we don’t have to complete a job, damage to our buildings or equipment, etc. Our volunteers put in over 300 hours of work each month that saves us countless money in labor costs. They spend many days of their private time on the trail and helping in fundraisers.
YRTC is a chapter of the Regional Trail Corp. (RTC) based in West Newton, PA. They are made up of many small chapters that maintain the 135 miles of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD. YRTC has 23 miles of that to maintain on our own and another 8 that we help other organizations with, one of the largest sections of the groups. YRTC receives no regular help from Township, County, City, or State maintenance crews but we get a lot of assistance at times from the maintenance crew of Connellsville and Ohiopyle State Park. They are on call for special needs when our volunteers are not available or need help."
The Yough River Bike Trail Council is partnering with The Health Insurance Store and local IT Support business EulerTech Services in a campaign to raise funds toward the repairs needed. During this campaign, The Health Insurance Store will be donating $10 to the YRT for every health or Medicare policy, and $50 for every Life Insurance policy written out of both the Connellsville and Forest Hills locations from June 1st through August 31st.
In addition to this, Aaron Zolbrod will be matching any donations made in person at The Health Insurance Store, or via the web, up to $2,500.
EulerTech Services will be maintaining the web presence and pushing toward reaching as wide of an audience as possible.
We look to reach or beat the $17,000 number by the end of August with this effort. Please show your affection for Connellsville and our great outdoors by sharing and donating, every bit counts. Doing this helps to ensure that generations of people get to experience the beautiful biking, fishing, hiking, and floating of our beautiful Yough River.
Below will be webcast with Aaron Zolbrod and Ted Koval.
- Doug Fisher
- Dustin Murray
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