Elizabethton Parks and Recreation to partner with national organization

After a week’s worth of rain and flooding, nature has shown how easily it can damage or even destroy what once seemed solid and stable. For environmentally-inclined organizations, this cannot continue, and many of them are working on ways to preserve the natural beauty of East Tennessee however possible.

The Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association is working on a partnership with the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department, starting with the Hampton Watershed Bike Trails.

Mike Mains, director of Elizabethton’s Parks and Rec, said the organization, a branch of the International Mountain Biking Association, partners with a variety of government agencies.

The organization crossed paths with Elizabethton during their partnership with Carter County’s Parks and Rec Department.

“We are working with them to help the city with this facility,” Mains said. “This is a beautiful area, and the park is on city property.”

Wesley Bradley, Trail Liaison for SORBA, said the complex features roughly five miles of biking trails.

“We plan to hopefully expand the trails in the future,” Bradley said.

The partnership will begin with general maintenance of the facility, including trail upkeep.

“If you do not keep an eye on the trails, they disappear,” he said. “Trees fall down, and erosion washes it away.”

Recreation Manager David Nanney said the organization’s unique focus would greatly improve the quality of the facility.

“Mountain biking is their thing,” Nanney said. “They were willing to jump in.”

A formal arrangement is still in the works. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding a few years ago, which is basically the rough outlines of a contract.

“Right now, we are looking at a three to five year contract,” Bradley said.

Bradley described the agreement as a “catalyst” for future plans for both the bike trails and the region as a whole.

“We want to build a park in Brightridge,” he said. “It will have several lines and pump tracks there, and it will be unique for the area.”

Mains said a final draft is in the works, and as soon as it is done, it will go to the City Council for approval.

“We want it to be fun and safe for the public,” he said.

Bradley said the agreement is a chance to create a space for people to meet and enjoy the natural gifts of the region.

“We want to get people out to learn about biking and enjoy the beautiful natural resources,” he said. “This is what we do. We build, ride and repeat.”

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