The Singing River Trail had an extraordinary 2022!
We accomplished several goals that allowed our partners across North Alabama to realize what 220 miles of connections and collaborations can do to help Alabama continue to become even better.
The McCrary Family and 1818 Farms of Mooresville provided SRT with a 4,000-square-foot home and six-acre site to serve as our trail-wide headquarters. The new headquarters will also serve as an event space, outdoor recreation center, and a rural innovation/leadership center.
The Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville awarded SRT a $50,000 grant from the Compass Society to invest in public health in Bridgeport, Scottsboro, and Gurley. We are creating three outdoor exercise/yoga/foodways/birding/public art parks that will challenge people to get outside and get moving.
The Town of Leighton received a $1 million Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) Grant to redesign its downtown with the Singing River Trail as the centerpiece of the project.
The Town of Gurley received a $1 million TAP Grant to build onto the SRT, connecting almost a mile of public space, commercial district, government buildings, public library, and the town’s park.
The City of Scottsboro built a section of the Singing River Trail as part of the Bynum Park trail system. This section will eventually become part of the SRT route that will connect Downtown Scottsboro with Goose Pond Resort.
The Madison County Commission invested heavily in SRT projects in South Huntsville and in East Madison County.
The City of Huntsville continued its generous support of SRT operations by adding more SRT trail mileage in South Huntsville. We’ve also finished plans for a two-mile section of SRT that will connect the east side of the Huntsville Airport to the Town of Triana in phases. AND, thanks to a donation by the Huntsville International Airport, we have thousands of truckloads of recycled asphalt.
The City of Madison has been focused on extending its trail system to connect to SRT, provide safe crossings at Madison Boulevard, and link to the future SRT route to the HSV Airport. By the way… did you know that Madison has already put down sections of SRT at the Trash Pandas Stadium? If not, you do now. Take a walk on the extra-wide sidewalk past right field and you are walking on the Singing River Trail!
The Town of Leighton has been busy painting buildings, stringing lights across its downtown, applying for and winning large grants, and working hard to become the best square mile they can be. SRT will be the sponsor for next year’s Sledgefest, an outdoor music event that recognizes Percy Sledge’s contributions to Alabama’s musical heritage.
SRT started its public art push in smalltown Alabama and got the first internationally sanctioned hopscotch court in downtown Courtland (as usable public art) finished using (purposefully) a Jackson County artist. Decatur is up next! Soon we will have a SRT Scotch Trail (apologies to any Bourbon Trails) that will show that public art can be pretty, fun, and usable.
Singing River Trail finished the first draft of the Decatur to the Shoals Western Master Plan. Scheduled for public release in 2023, the plan demonstrates how windows are opening up everywhere – including opportunities that will not only engage our greenway but bring a possible SRT Paddleway system to the Singing River Trail. This would be another family-friendly way to connect residents and visitors of North Alabama to nature while helping create an outdoor recreation economy for some of our small towns across the Singing River Valley.
Also scheduled for public release in 2023 is the Jackson County Master Route Plan. Here’s a sneak peek…we have identified a huge possible project in Paint Rock Valley. It could have something to do with ACES Graham Farm and Alabama A&M!
The City of Athens drew us into the master plan of its new city park. We are working on connecting 3.2 miles of city trail to 11 miles of the Richard Martin Rails to Trails. This would mean that a biker, hiker, runner, or equestrian could go from Athens to the Tennessee State Line… we see you, Giles County, Tennessee!
SRT has identified the downtown route with the Town of Courtland. We are looking for funders who can help a great small town connect its town park, public housing, historic neighborhoods, commercial district, downtown square, and a SRT Paddleway landing area (land has already been secured) on Big Nance Creek.
SRT is working with the Town of Town Creek on a public art project and literacy program. Another big goal is finding ways to engage the local creek (Town Creek) in the town’s economic future.
SRT is finishing up its trail route plan for the Shoals. We have identified exciting opportunities to connect Sheffield and Muscle Shoals to the TVA Reservation, connecting miles of trails and Bank Independent’s new headquarters. An existing large road that needs a little diet surrounded by a wonderful historic neighborhood is begging for some connectivity.
Innovate Alabama has made SRT part of its statewide discussion on outdoor recreation and included us as part of its public listening tour.
The Singing River Trail Launch Tank showed the world that outdoor recreation, regional collaboration, and entrepreneurial development work well together. On March 22, 2022, 247 people showed up to watch SRT, Launch 2035, Decatur E-Center, and Urban Engine hand out $20,000 to nine winners who want to open or expand existing businesses in SRT territory. We all won, by the way. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we bet other outdoor recreation projects will flatter us, because we were the first!
SRT is excited to announce that Anna Clem has taken the role of Associate Director of SRT and is making her mark already by doubling our productivity and showing our region what two people can do when surrounded by so many stakeholders and supporters.
Singing River Trail’s Executive Director, John Kvach, was selected as a fellow of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)’s leadership institute. Through this program, John will bring more economic development ideas and opportunities to North Alabama.
Last, but not least, thank you to everyone who made all of the things listed above possible. We are building more than a trail. We are building a vision for a better Alabama. Let’s share this knowledge with other parts of our state and help everyone have access to our natural resources, new economic opportunities, and better, healthier communities.
In 2023, we will continue to build Alabama’s outdoor infrastructure, engaging in economic development through improved quality of life and capacity building. We are doing what a lot of organizations talk about, but few do well… regional collaboration. Regional collaboration is our secret sauce, and it still tastes good. As we watch Innovate Alabama provide grants to startups and small businesses, we hope that nonprofits like ours are not left out… we are innovation after all.
As our small towns struggle for matching funds, we hope that new partners and the State of Alabama see that people are ready to work hard but higher levels of funding are needed to complete these projects. We will continue to show up every day and work hard to make North Alabama a better place to live and work by working together.
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