Elkin resident R.G. Absher received the North Carolina Trail Worker Award at the National Trails Symposium, held near Scottsdale, Ariz. last week.
The Trails Symposium was held at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation-Radisson Hotel and Conference Center . The International Trails Symposium is held at various sites around the country every two years.
Absher was presented the award during the Symposium Awards Banquet. The State Trail Worker Awards recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding contributions and provided consistent support for trail planning, development, or maintenance.
It is intended to recognize the commitment and efforts of a private or public sector individual working for enhanced trail recreation in their local area/state. The award is based on work performed between the period of 2010 and the present date. Absher’s award was based on his work in developing trail systems and trail partnerships in western North Carolina.
Absher retired from the US Army Corps of Engineers in July of 2010. At the time of his retirement he was responsible for working with local partner Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club (BMCC), an affiliated club of the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), in developing over 30 miles of sustainable multi-use trails.
In coordinating planning efforts with the BMCC, Absher helped develop the Dark Mountain Trails, The Overmountain Victory Trail section from the Kerr Scott Visitor’s Center to Bandit’s Roost Campground and the Warrior Creek Trails. Kerr Scott’s Trails recently received the Epic Trail designation by IMBA which have identified them as some of the best trails of their type in America.
Absher worked with officials from the National Park Service to achieve designation for various portions as a part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail System and designation of other portions as National Recreational Trails. These trail systems have achieved positive tourism economic impacts on the local economy by increasing opportunities for the traveling public.
From August 2010 to present, Absher has been employed by the Yadkin River Greenway Council, a non-profit. During this time, Absher has worked to link trail systems and further trail development along the greenway.
Absher worked with officials of the National Park Service to place an additional 1.2 miles of new trail from Smoot Park to Memorial Park in North Wilkesboro as a certified section of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trails system.
Absher is one of the founding members of the Yadkin Valley Heritage Corridor Partnership, a 501 3.c. non-profit, which has among its goals to connect trails in a four-county region along the Yadkin River Valley.
The award citation said that Absher has been a strong leader by encouraging and fostering partnerships throughout this large region of North Carolina.
He has supported the efforts of the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA) in developing a trail system which will link Elkin to Stone Mountain State Park and provide an important trail connector to the North Carolina Mountains To Sea Trail system. Absher has assisted the EVTA with his expertise in fundraising and by sharing experience in areas such as easement acquisition and mapping. He helped the EVTA develop plans for mountain bike courses in Surry County.
Absher has also been instrumental in promoting the Surry County segment of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail through work in the Wilkes-Surry Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association (OVTA).
Through the OVTA, in the summer of 2012 Absher negotiated efforts to construct a new mile of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail at Lake James State Park by recruiting an IMBA approved trail crew to help local park officials construct the sustainable trail while yet staying within a tight budget.
Absher also served during the period as vice-president of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, which helps promote the Overmountain Victory Trail by annually reaching out to 10,000 students along the trail corridor by teaching the history and getting students out to walk on trails.
Through the OVTA, Absher helped support and grow the local efforts of Kids In Parks and Trail Tracks Programs, which seeks to encourage children to utilize the fitness benefits of trails. These programs are initiatives of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
Absher was the founding president of the North Carolina Daniel Boone Heritage Trail. This organization works over an eleven county region in western North Carolina along the Yadkin River Valley to promote the awareness of Daniel Boone and his history in North Carolina.
Absher is well known as a trail advocate in North Carolina. He routinely conducts and organizes ceremonies, trail cleanup events and historic field day events that attract a wider segment of the community to the trails. Absher works with the Yadkin River Keeper to assist in awareness campaigns for a clearer river, for awareness of the natural resources and ecology along the Yadkin River and to promote the canoe and kayak Blue Way along with adjacent greenway and trail systems.
The citation says: “Absher’s commitment to trails and work in coordinating regional, state and federal trails systems in North Carolina has resulted in major successes in developing trails and greenways. His ability to harness public support, foster partnerships and offer assistance to other trail organizations, is a huge asset to the furtherance of trails in North Carolina.”