'Friends' help out scenic Little Miami trail
LOVELAND - For supporters of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, their
charge borders on a sacred trust.
The public must like the 50-mile bike trail, too.
Partially built on an old railroad right of way, bordering a state and
federal scenic river for much of its traverse of Warren County, a
first-ever count showed the trail had 10,826 users in less than three
hours on two days, one in late July and one in early August.
That count, made by nonprofit Friends of the Little Miami State Park
from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 28 and Aug. 8, found 4,979 users on the
trail at Loveland, 2,374 at Milford, 1,315 at Corwin in Warren
County's Wayne Township, 1,272 at Morrow in Warren County's Salem
Township and 906 at Spring Valley, 10 miles south of Xenia in Greene
The Little Miami Scenic Trail runs from Cincinnati to Xenia along the
Little Miami River, Ohio's first National and Wild Scenic River and
also the first state Scenic River.
Steve Murphy, president of the Friends group, said the count is the
first of its kind made on the trail and shows the trail's worth, which
he said is renowned worldwide.
"Fifty miles of pavement on a state and national scenic river," Murphy
said. "You'd be surprised how people feel about this trail. It's
Murphy certainly feels strongly about the trail - he said he bikes
1,200-1,400 miles annually on its winding paths.
Others with his group do, too.
Formed in 2008 after a rash of injuries on the trail, including one
Blue Ash cyclist who was nearly paralyzed, Friends of the Little Miami
State Park raised $5,000 to pave 11 wooden, slippery wooden bridges on
the trail that were the cause of accidents. Ohio pitched in $17,000.
Since then, no major injuries have been reported, Murphy said, and the
group has turned its attention to keeping the trail neat and clear of
Their efforts are appreciated by the state, which has increasingly
turned to public-private partnerships as budgets are sliced and diced.
Jim Henahan, manager of community partnerships program with Ohio State
Parks, part of the Ohio Division of Natural Resources, said the parks
division has experienced a budget cut in eight of the last 10 years,
and had its budget reduced $4.3 million for 2010, to $31.8 million.
Ohio has 74 state parks in 60 counties with more than 174,000 acres of
land and water.
In the current environment, "They've been outstanding partners for
us," Henahan said of the Friends group.
Henahan said Ohio State Parks relies on volunteers like Friends of the
Little Miami State Park to get work done that wouldn't be completed
Last year, 7,000 volunteers donated 350,000 hours of service to the
parks system, said Henahan
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