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Ohio grant to improve local trails

$500,000 Clean Ohio Grant awarded to Oxford Area Trail Systems last Friday

By Ezra Saulnier, For The Miami Student

Last Friday, the nonprofit group Oxford Area Trail System announced they are the recipients of a Clean Ohio Grant for the amount of $500,000.

Working in tandem with organizations like the City of Oxford, the Oxford Visitor's Bureau, Miami University, Oxford Township and more, the Oxford Trails group has spent the past decade working toward the building of scenic, multi-use recreational trails around Oxford. The funds, awarded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, will go toward the first phase of these plans.

The first phase of development will consist of two connecting trails, which will total 2.15 miles between them. The first trail is a bike path going from Kelly Road to Corso Drive, which will then continue along Corso Drive due to its low traffic volume. This will then cross Oxford's historic black covered bridge, following a second trail through a wooded area underneath the bridge on Morning Sun Road along Four Mile Creek. This will pass through Miami University Fryman Farm property before concluding at Leonard Howell Park on Bonham Road. Additionally, there are plans for signage to be added so that trail users can continue along Four Mile Creek on to the historic DeWitt log cabin, which is typically accessed from Highway 73.

These plans are in line with Oxford Area Trail System's broader goal of creating a network of trails around the perimeter of the city.

"[The trails] are part of the city's comprehensive plan to have trail connectivity to both rural and urban sites around Oxford," City of Oxford planner Sam Perry said.

Perry said these plans have been in the works for over a decade. Having been through multiple stages of design, funds were raised to hire a consulting firm in 2007, after which subsequent efforts for funding failed to take off.

"This ended when last year, through the leadership of the Oxford Visitors Bureau, a committee was pulled back together to rekindle the effort," Perry said. "The same plans were used to develop an application for a small portion of the overall trail plans."

It was then that the funds were awarded. The Clean Ohio Grant is awarded yearly by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources with the purpose of Land acquisition for a trail, trail development, trailhead facilities, engineering and design.

A 25 percent match is required for recipients of the Clean Ohio Grant, $35,000 of which Oxford Area Trail System has already raised. Those looking to donate can do so by visiting http://www.oxfordfdn.org/donate.html and specifying Oxford Area Trails Fund, or by calling (513) 523-0623.

Although the process has been long, Oxford Area Trail System are optimistic about the future.

"Oxford and Miami have a wealth of scenic and historic resources," said Oxford Trail's member David Prytherch. "This trail will provide a key link between them, enhancing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike."

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