Burke County Public Schools received another grant for its Enola Trail project, currently under construction between Patton High School and Mull Elementary in Morganton.
In December, the district was awarded a $36,000 grant from the Attorney General’s office. With the grant money, BCPS will continue the work creating a wetlands area along Fiddler’s Run adjacent to Patton, Mull and Liberty Middle School. The project also will include a trail that will provide environmental educational opportunities for the schools and community.
The grant is part of a larger program to preserve natural resources and ensure clean air and drinking water in western North Carolina through the Environmental Enhancement Grant (EEG) program. BCPS was one of 23 entities to receive some of the $2.5 million distributed through the program in 2022.
“I’m pleased to see school systems like Burke County Public Schools focus on educating our students about the environment and innovative approaches to protecting our natural resources,” said Attorney General Josh Stein.
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The trail and wetlands project, initially the vision of Patton High School science teacher Noel Francis, will incorporate recreational opportunities as well as educational uses and resources, according to Patton English teacher Amy Vaughn.
“For example, biology classes and even elementary school students will have access to the trail for educational purposes,” she said. “They will have native plants, a storyboard trail and signage to explain each part of the wetland area.”
The area also will feature an amphitheater and measures to help conserve the wetlands around Fiddler’s Run. Vaughn said plans are also in the works to link the trail to a larger trail system developing in Burke County.
“(It) would ultimately link to the Catawba Greenway and the Overmountain Victory Trail,” she said. “One day, the dream is for this larger system to connect the Linville Gorge to the South Mountain State Park through a biking/walking trail similar in scope to the Virginia Creeper Trail.”
Vaughn said even the construction process will provide educational opportunities for Burke County students.
“Career and Technical Education students will be involved in some of the construction phase of the amphitheater portion of the project,” she said. “We will be using science classes to check on water quality and wildlife habitats. We also have a Patton student who will be working on the trail as a fulfillment of his Eagle Scout Project.”
Vaughn said the new grant money will be used to purchase gravel to stabilize the ground near the entry area and along the maintenance road that was created when the wetlands area was graded. It also will filter runoff water as it flows into Fiddlers Run.
Partnering with BCPS to develop the trail are:
- Habitat for Humanity
- Habitat for Humanity
- Burke County Soil and Water
- Salem United Methodist Church
Vaughn said she looks forward to the benefits this project brings, not just to the school system, but to the environment and the entire community.
“This project is truly a community effort,” she said. “The trail will encourage biking, running and walking for students, families and community members.”
The new grant is the latest in a long line of grants and donations to the project since The Patton Giving Games committee hosted a 5k in 2017 to raise money to help get it started. Since then, it has also received:
- $10,000 in seed money from Resourceful Communities
- $40,000 from The Duke Energy Foundation
- $60,000 from The Division of Water Resources
- $20,000 from Community Conservation Assistance Program
- $14,455 from The Burke County Community Foundation
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