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White County government and SORBA enter MOU


by Kathy Wood  

White County government and SORBA have entered a Memorandum of Understanding toward developing a recreational trail system. This Agreement is the first step of many, many steps toward realizing the creation of a Multi-Purpose Trail System on the 1,000 acre property DNR has leased to White County.  SORBA, the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, is ready to join forces as the County develops this property to reflect the quality of life and heritage in White County.

In May 2013, White County Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution No. 2013-07 establishing The OTP Property Development Committee.  Charged with determining the best use of the property with venues that would benefit the citizens of White County and promote tourism, The Committee will prioritize the use type or event in order to accommodate multiple phases of development over time.

Local SORBA members made formal presentation to The Committee in September, proposing a 20-mile multi-use natural surface recreational trail system.  This multi-user trail system has been professionally designed using modern trail-building standards and technique to minimize user conflict and to create a safe, sustainable trail system that is easily maintainable and has little impact on the surrounding environment.  Clark Neal, a local mountain bicycling advocate, says, “I have driven hours to ride my bike on a good trail.  Imagine having state of the art trails right here at home.”

Designed with elements that appeal to a broad range of user groups like hikers, cross-country runners, bicyclists, photographers, etc., this trail system allows simultaneous use for a variety of users in a safe and enjoyable manner.  It provides controlled access to key features of the property to all user groups.  The proposed trail system can be revised and rerouted as needed to accommodate other land usage.  Archery, several ball fields, Frisbee golf, a shooting range, fishing, and non-motorized boating activities are some ideas at present.

The MOU includes SORBA and IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association.  Tom Sauret, IMBA-SORBA Regional Director says, “such a recreational development will encourage a healthy lifestyle.  It will attract varying sports events and, as such, will boost tourism.  Such a park will be a well-deserved multi-use playground for all students and citizens in Cleveland, White County, and Georgia, plus the entire southeast region.  IMBA-SORBA is proud to help make this happen.”

The trail design calls for a separate parking area to control access and alleviate additional stress on the other planned facilities.  This allows for concurrent activities and eliminates bottlenecks.  It offers a centralized point for collection of fees.  The proposed design is for a gravel lot, which is cheaper to construct and maintain than an asphalt lot.  It could also serve as overflow parking for other events on the property.

SORBA is Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association SORBA has partnered with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and now represents over 4,000 members who help steward miles and miles of great trails in a seven-state area. The best riding in the Southeast is found on trails maintained by SORBA volunteers.

IMBA is International Mountain Bicycling Association IMBA's worldwide network includes 35,000 individual members; more than 750 chapters, clubs and patrols; more than 200 corporate partners; and about 600 retailer shops. IMBA's members live in all 50 U.S. states, most Canadian provinces and in 30 other countries.  IMBA's U.S and international headquarters in the United States are located in Boulder, Colorado. Domestically, IMBA has about 50 full-time staff members, including regional directors located in the Pacific Northwest, Central California, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, South Central, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States.