The Leader Times: Armstrong Trails celebrates the opening of the Crooked Creek-to-Schenley section

Armstrong Trails on Monday held its opening ceremony for the Crooked Creek-to-Schenley section of the passage.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources (DNCR) Secretary Cindy Dunn said, “This is the most significant trail gap that I’ve had the honor of closing this year.”

The Crooked Creek-to-Schenley section is a part of Armstrong Trails — a 52.5-mile rail to trails program that is protects and converts former railroad corridors for public use in Armstrong, Clarion and Westmoreland counties. This section is part of the larger trail project that will stretch 270 miles and connect Erie to Pittsburgh Trail. “I see what’s on the horizon. I look at the little trail towns and how they developed, and so many people are contacting us to be a part of this,” Armstrong County Commissioner Chairman John Strate said.

Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT) Executive Deputy Secretary Larry Shifflet says, “It’s a huge accomplishment, but we’re not done yet.”

With the opening of the Crooked Creek to Schenley section, Armstrong Trails will now be focusing on completing the Schenley to Leechburg section, and plans to have it done by May 1.

The future

All those who spoke at the opening expressed their hopes of what the trails would bring to Armstrong county as the sections are completed.

“People say that the best days of this area are done. I don’t believe that. With these trails our best days are ahead of us,” Armstrong County Commissioner Vice Chairman Anthony Shea said.

“What better way to bring visitors to our area, and create tourism, than our beautiful part of the world,” PA State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-63) said.

Speakers at the opening foresee that the completion of the trails will boost tourism in the region, as people come to experience the natural beauty that PA has to offer. It was even hoped that the completion of the trails would see people moving to region. “What gives Pennsylvania the best hope for its future is attracting and keeping our communities together,” Dunn said. “Attracting new people and having people come home to Pennsylvania.”

Chris Ziegler is spotlighted

All those who spoke at opening took time to thanks Executive Director of Armstrong Trails Chris Ziegler for her work.

PA State Rep. Abby Major (R-60), “This wouldn’t have happened without Chris.”

Ziegler was a leading force in the Rails to Trails program, and all were amazed by what her, and her team, has managed to accomplish so far. “If we had 10 of you, just imagine what this county could be,” Strate said.

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