Burke County Public School Board of Education (BCPS BOE) owns acreage along the corridor in Valdese north of Draughn High School (DHS). In a meeting at the school, stakeholders discussed the options for the trail to cross the property. One option is to combine the property with Valdese Lakeside Park and the other is to provide a trail easement. The trail easement allows hikers to access the property but takes away the school’s liability. A non-profit or local government would hold the easement.
BCPS BOE Chair Wendi Craven was excited about the possibility of protecting the wetlands that are part of the property. Craven was active with the Enola Trail at Patton High School and has experience with Burke Soil and Water for protecting wetlands. In addition to protection, the area could become an outdoor environmental learning lab with hands on learning. Burke Soil and Water Conservationist, Travis Smith will be meeting with BCPS Auxiliary Services Director Dr. Bob Acord and local trail advocate Beth Heile on the property to evaluate the potential.
Another learning opportunity is the skill of trail building. Friends of the Valdese Rec started a Trail Blazers High School club in 2020 for students across Burke County to learn about sustainable trails and careers in the field. Being involved in a new trail being built beside DHS provides an easy way for students to take ownership and leave a legacy.
In addition to learning, the trail will offer more trail course distance for the DHS Cross Country team. Currently, some of the course follows the parking area and driveways of the school. In February, Heile will present an overview of the trail and its benefits to School Board members so they can consider the options.