September 2003 Submitted by Sally Aungier, Chair Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Panel (GORAP): As reported in an earlier column I was appointed to the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Panel and represent both the horse industry and state parks volunteers.
I had the pleasure of serving on the Subcommittee for Product Development.
The Panel itself was “charged with broadening cooperation among state agencies and the private sector.
In addition, the panel will provide an effective framework to collect input from multiple stakeholders across the Commonwealth, make a unified assessment and provide consensus-based recommendations to the Governor.” The Subcommittee for Product Development was charged with recommending new outdoor tourism and recreational products and attractions. One of the jobs of the full panel was to compile all of the various subcommittees’ suggestions and to present our recommendations to the Governor this past week.
After the equine industry meeting at Colonial Downs in July, Secretary of Commerce Schewel asked our panel to also prepare recommendations specifically related to the equine industry that could be included as a part of the final report.
I prepared a list of the projects I was aware of and circulated it to the VHC Board and others to provide additional input.
My final draft included a list of 52 projects that could be implemented to better serve the equine tourism industry.
About half were recognized as projects we thought could be implemented in the near future and the remaining ones would require long term planning in order to identify and obtain the necessary resources.
The list covered everything from training and rewards for volunteers who help with projects on state lands (trails, etc); to better promotion of (and development of new) overnight facilities for horses, both along the interstate corridors and in conjunction with public trail facilities; to preservation of equestrian corridors and lands in North Virginia. While traveling to the last GORAP meeting I took some extra time to visit with State Park and National Forest staff and tour the area.
Since everyone is always looking for new places to ride I thought I share a few of these with you. Primland Resort: We had our GORAP meeting at Primland, which is located at Meadows of Dan (west of Martinsville) at the invitation of Steve Helms, the manager who is also one of our panel members.
This privately owned hunting resort is a hidden jewel.
The property encompasses around 13,000 acres of some of the most beautiful mountain terrain in the state.
There are at least 14 cabins and houses available to rent by the day or week.
They are scattered around on the property so there is plenty of privacy.
While the primary business at Primland is hunting and fishing they have over 90 miles of ATV, mountain bike, and horse trails on the property as well.
They have guided rides available on rental horses, but you could arrange to take your own horse.
Because of the diverse use of the property, you would need to utilize a guide when you bring your own horse.
This is done for safety’s sake because of the hunting.
The staff members are very knowledgeable about their environment and do everything possible to make your stay enjoyable.
I took a guided ATV tour so that I could see the trails and they were a mix of forest roads and open fields.
The footing was pretty good and the views were awesome.
I also enjoyed learning more about the complexities of raising pheasants in Virginia and saw the very pristine kennel of about 40 gorgeous hunting dogs of various breeds that are also part of the staff.
Along with these opportunities there is also an on-site restaurant and conference center.
The house we stayed in is used by the owner, when he is in the U.S., and was pretty upscale compared to sleeping in the gooseneck of my trailer! The one last thing I have to admit is that I really had a blast riding the ATV’s off road.
While I’ve used 4-wheelers on occasion for trail work I’ve never had time to really play with one.
For more information check out the website at HYPERLINK “http://www.primland.com” http://www.primland.com or call (276) 251-8012. When I left Primland I traveled over to the New River Trail State Park (NRTSP) to meet with staff and to tour the horse camp that is under construction at Foster Falls.
This camp is the one that now has the gas line going through the middle of it and the gas fired plant being built within sight.
The pipeline itself has now been installed under the river.
The trench goes very close to one of the bathrooms in the camp but has now been covered over and the area reseeded.
Outside of the camp area it is still an open raw red clay wound that rises out of the river and travels throughout the region.
It also crossed the Primland entrance and that was nearly an hour away.
The adjoining new day parking area at Foster Falls is nearly ready for use.
It may be spring before the primitive overnight area can be opened.
Delays have been caused by state finances, the construction of the pipeline, and the wet weather.
I think everyone will really enjoy the camp once it is open as it adjoins the trail bed itself.
In the meantime you can still use the existing day parking area near the headquarters and we can dream of the day when we have the financial resources to construct the stalls at the overnight camp.
For more information visit HYPERLINK “http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/newriver.htm” http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/newriver.htm. Next, I stopped at the Blacksburg office of the New River Valley Ranger District Station, which is located on Rt. 460, and is a great place to talk to staff and to pick up maps and other literature related to the National Forest.
A spur of the moment call to former VHC Board members Del and Doris Dyer found them home and available for lunch.
Afterward Del drove me all around the area and showed off many of the trail heads and the views they had enjoyed over the years.
Most notable was the easy access to the parking lot at Pandapas Pond, right off Rt. 460 just west of the Va.
I’m looking forward to making a trip up there soon to check out the trails. Plans Forming for New Rail Trail in Southside Va.: A newly formed group called Roanoke River Rails-to-Trails is trying to get a long planned rail trail moving forward in their area.
In accordance with a potential rail trail project identified in the Virginia Outdoors Plan they would like to turn the old abandoned Atlantic-Danville Rail Line into a non-motorized multi-use trail.
After being contacted by VHC Trails Rep, Nancy Blantz Watson, the group expressed its interest in including the equestrian community in its planning.
Presently the group is trying to establish itself as a 501 C-3, non-profit organization so it can become eligible for the grants that will be need to move the project forward.
The old rail line runs from Lawrenceville to LaCrosse to South Hill to Clarksville in Mecklenburg County.
The first section that would be considered for development as a trail is from Lawrenceville; the easternmost point, to LaCrosse.
The railroad tracks along this stretch have already been removed.
The best part about the route for this trail system is that it will go right through Occoneechee State Park and could also possibly later tie into Staunton River State Park in later phases of development.
For more information or to become involved in this project contact Nancy at 804-848-4005 or HYPERLINK mailto:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org. Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference: Our trip to Florida for the Annual Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference was a great opportunity to network with other individuals who are involved in trail conservation efforts.
Our presentation on the Duke Power project and how it is impacting our camp on the New River Trail went over very well.
Even though it was one of the last presentations made during the intense two-day conference, our audience was engaged and had lots of questions at the end.
Our thanks go to Tom Smith, President of the National Committee on the New River, for making the journey to Gainesville to speak for Virginia.
As always our schedule was packed and the days and nights blurred together as our sessions were non-stop from early morning to late and night.
We are also extremely grateful to the Virginia Horse Industry Board for giving us the grant that allowed Tom, Anne Wohlleban, and me to attend. This was the first year the conference had not been held at Clemson University where it had originated.
The plan is to continue to move it around within the 13 SETC states.
Florida, as a location was wonderful because we had tremendous support from the various state agencies and greenways groups, which helped to make the conference a success.
Over 170 participants and 34 vendors packed the hotel.
Next year we will be in Atlanta, and North Carolina has agreed to host the event in 2005.
The planning team would very much like for us to take it on in 2006 or 2007.
Chris Douwes who heads up the Recreational Trails fund in DC has pretty much guaranteed us at least a $10,000 education grant each year as long as that program is reauthorized (TEA-21 or its successor) by Congress. Besides the conference another 60 individuals participated in the Equine Rescue training course that was run in conjunction with the conference.
Rebecca and Tomas Gimenez (Clemson Univ.) offer an intense course that I would love to see us bring to Virginia.
We really need to provide some professional training to our volunteer and paid rescue personnel so that they will know how to safely handle trailer accidents and other types of entrapments involving horses and other types of livestock.
I plan to look into some ways to bring them up to Virginia with their crew of very patient trail horses who double as “stunt crew”.
It’s just amazing to see their horses hanging way up in the air in a sling without concern and without benefit of tranquilizers.
They are wonderfully trusting and patient critters who tolerate many strangers handling them on a regular basis. Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s): As most of you remember the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill during the 2003 session that would allow the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) to sell special use permits for recreational users of the WMA’s.
The new regulation § 29.1-113 Admittance, Parking, and use at certain Department-owned facilities; civil penalty gives DGIF the option of charging an admittance fee.
The fee would not be required for individuals who already hold valid hunting, trapping, or fishing permits or who are under age 16.
The legislation also states that the daily fee for the special use permit could not exceed $3.00, and that an annual fee could not be greater than the current cost of a resident state hunting or fishing license.
Read more about Gooseneck : and was pretty upscale compared to sleeping in the gooseneck….: