Two area recreational trails have received national recognition.

6/15/04

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THE ALLEGHENY RIVER AND SANDY CREEK TRAILS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE NATIONAL RECREATION TRAILS SYSTEM.

The Allegheny River and Sandy Creek trails are among 27 trials nationwide that were added to the National Recreation Trails System by U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

As part of the designation, both trails will receive a certificate of designation and National Recreation Trail markers, as well as technical assistance and support for outreach efforts.

Both trails were built and are maintained by the Allegheny Valley Trails Association.

"This designation is quite an honor for our all-volunteer group," said Jim Holden, president of the Allegheny Valley Trails Association. "Our goal has been to improve the quality of life for local residents while supporting economic development through recreational tourism."

The Allegheny River Trail, along with the Samuel Justus Trail, which was added to the national system last year, is a 25-mile paved rail-trail that runs between Oil City and Brandon, offering scenic views of the Allegheny River and surrounding woodland. The eight-foot wide paved surface is built on a portion of the old Pennsylvania Railroad that extended from Pittsburgh to Buffalo.

The Sandy Creek Trail intersects with the Allegheny Valley River Trail five miles south of Franklin in Belmar. The eight-mile long Sandy Creek Trail runs east across the Allegheny River and through hills, valleys and forestland.

"This unique trail system offers tremendous opportunities to enjoy the spectacular scenery and exciting history of the Allegheny River and surrounding region," said Rep. John Peterson of Pleasantville. "In addition to providing a great venue for outdoor recreation and exercise, this trail system can play an important role in attracting area visitors to Pennsylvania's beautiful, historic oil region."

The National Recreation Trails designation is given to recognize trails of local and regional significance that have been nominated and meet the requirements for connecting people to local resources and improving quality of life. The designation is part of an ongoing campaign to promote community partnerships and to encourage physical fitness.

"Our efforts to promote trails for health and recreation are part of a larger partnership initiated by President Bush. These partnerships are using the vast interconnected outdoor recreation network of federal, state and local lands and waters as a resource that can help provide inexpensive, enjoyable exercise for all Americans," Norton said.