Amherst County continues push for more outdoor recreation, hoping it leads to an economic boost

From bike trails to playgrounds, county leaders believe it could bring more business

Mountain biking is just the tip of the iceberg for what Amherst County hopes to offer.

AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – A four-mile stretch of trail didn’t exist in Amherst a few years ago.

The Amherst Mountain Biking Club developed the trail system and skills course at Brockman Industrial Park.

Carter Massie, the group’s vice president, says their goal is to grow the riding community.

“We want people to ride bikes and have a good time, but we also want to bring the interest of mountain biking to an area where it’s just, kind of, starting,” said Massie.

The club recently met with town council to discuss using more outdoor space.

Town Manager Sara Carter says they’re working with the group to expand.

“Our council really wants to be known for being a bike-and-pedestrian-friendly town. So, any opportunity we have to expand bike and pedestrian access, we’re going to look to take those opportunities,” said Carter.

They believe more opportunities for outdoor recreation will lead to more business, boosting the local economy.

“If we’re going to encourage economic development, we need to present Amherst [County] as a nice, fun, family-oriented place to live, where people and workers will want to come so that businesses will come and find workers here,” said Dean Rodgers, Amherst County administrator.

Other projects in the county include working with the James River Association for more recreation along the watershed and offering additional classes on safety.

They’re extending the trail at River Edge Park.

Playgrounds are being upgraded in parks, including QR codes to provide feedback and suggestions for future projects.

They also installed floating islands and plan to create other features at Mill Creek Lake.

Rodgers says they’re able to fund the recreational improvements because other capital projects were covered by CARES funds and the American Rescue Plan.

“When you make the place nicer for businesses and people to come to, you’re making it nicer for the people that already live here,” said Rodgers.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.