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    Popular 'Tour de Wolf' trail at Shelby Farms to get $40,000 upgrade

    Richard Locker


    Shelby Farms Park Conservancy was just presented with a $40,000 grant from the Recreational Trails Program to restore and add safety features to the Tour de Wolf’s system of more than six miles of trails. Above (from left) Sally Logan of Cordova and Brad Hopper of Oakland ride the Tour de Wolf Trail on Wednesday afternoon. The trail at 4,500-acre Shelby Farms is used by walkers, hikers, runners, equestrians and bicyclists.

    The popular Tour de Wolf Trail at Shelby Farms Park will be enhanced and safety features added with a new $40,000 federal grant announced Wednesday by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
    The 6.1-mile trail is the most diverse of more than 40 miles of trails at the sprawling 4,500-acre Shelby Farms. The trail is used by walkers, hikers, runners, equestrians and bicyclists. Shelby Farms Conservancy, which manages the park for Shelby County, will meet with trail users to plan for specific enhancements.
    “The Tour de Wolf is one of the most beloved trails at Shelby Farms Park. We’ve really wanted to work on it for quite a while,” Jen Andrews, the park’s director of development and communications, said Wednesday.
    “This TDEC grant is going to make that work possible, along with support from volunteer groups like the Mid-South Trails Association. A lot of people don’t realize it takes more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work each year to keep Shelby Farms Park and Greenline clean, green and safe. With volunteers pitching in and TDEC helping fund these repairs, we’re excited to improve the Tour de Wolf for novice and experienced hikers, bikers and equestrians.”
    The grant was awarded through the federal Recreational Trails Program, created to distribute money for diverse recreational trail projects to federal, state and local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations under certain conditions.
    RTP grants may be used for non-routine maintenance and restoration of existing trails; development and rehabilitation of trailside or trailhead facilities such as restrooms, kiosks and parking lots, and land purchase and construction of new trails and corridors.
    Funding is through the Federal Highway Administration under the federal Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TDEC, administers the grants for the state. The maximum federal share per project is 80 percent, with recipients providing the remaining 20 percent.
    Andrews said that, “over the next few months, we’ll be meeting with park users representing all the different ways the Tour de Wolf is enjoyed to make sure we’re addressing as many safety and recreation concerns as possible.
    “Shelby Farms is a people-powered park. With input from our users, well be able to dramatically improve the Tour de Wolf.”
    The trail will remain unpaved but will meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for accessibility after the enhancements. It will have different types of ground cover to make it more ecologically sound, said Betsy Peterson, development assistant at the park.
    The Tour de Wolf traverses the most diverse landscapes at the park. “It runs beside an outdoor off-leash dog park, through woods, through fields of grass and alongside equestrian fields,” Peterson said. “It’s one of the most highly trafficked trails in the park. This is one of the biggest grants we’ve received and it will mainly help us make some safety improvements and also help us make some more entertaining features for mountain bikers.”
    The improvements must be completed within two years after the contract with the state is signed. “We’re going to make sure we prepare as much as we can to hit the ground running as soon as the planning is complete,” said Rebecca Dailey, the park’s communications coordinator. “We hope to have lots of great volunteers to get it completed sooner.”
    RTP grant recipients are selected through a scoring process, including projects meeting selection criteria and with the greatest local recreation need.
    TDEC Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill, who presented a symbolic check to Shelby Farms Conservancy board vice chairman Tom Grimes, said TDEC’s goals for the grants are to improve recreational opportunities and promote a healthy Tennessee.
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