‘It’s going to be a huge impact’: Neighbors oppose Craig Botetourt scenic trail project

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – A 26-mile-long trail is planned for Botetourt and Craig Counties, and project leaders hope it will boost the economy and bring visitors to the area.

But not everyone is happy with the project, as some neighbors nearby are organizing to try to “DeRail the Trail.”

County officials say the scenic trail will run parallel to Craigs Creek, 26 miles from New Castle to Eagle Rock.

The small town of Oriskany, with a population of around 20, sits alongside a piece of that.

“I looked for six years for this place,” neighbor Steve Lambert said. “A place that was exactly what Oriskany is. Very remote.”

When neighbors like Lambert heard that a trail, comparable to the Virginia Creeper Trail in scale was coming to the area, they were left scratching their heads.

“Well wait a minute, Virginia Creeper Trail gets like 500 people a day through it, and it’s like we want 500 people? I mean we get five people a day, so it’s going to be a huge impact,” neighbor Jim Stadtlander said.

Neighbors believe it could restrict area hunting, and they have more serious concerns.

“Portions of the trail are a public highway that they say is condemned,” Lambert said. “It’s not condemned, it is essentially a driveway to our home.”

They said when it floods it’s the only way out of town for them, and if it becomes a pedestrian walkway they’re afraid that could become a dangerous situation.

“The EMS to get out here is, roughly 40 minutes if they’re not on another call,” Stadtlander said.

With planning already underway, the little town of Oriskany isn’t sure if there’s any way to stop what’s coming.

We reached out to the Virginia Department of Transportation for an update on the project. They say there’s a citizen information meeting tentatively scheduled for next month.

At their September 2022 meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board authorized up to $1 million to the trail to support pre-construction planning activities.

About the Author

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.

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