MORGANTOWN — A bright blue sky and luscious, green trees surrounded those in attendance Sunday at the opening and ribbon-cutting of West Virginia University’s Falling Run Greenspace.
The Falling Run Trail project brings 16 biking and hiking paths that connect the downtown campus to West Virginia University’s Organic Research Farm. The greenspace can be found at the end of Outlook Street.
Volunteers have been working since August to complete the trails.
“As of (Monday) we have had 943 students who have devoted over 2,800 hours to building 14 trails,” Narvel Weese, vice president for adminstration and finance, said Sunday. “Also we had 190 crew leaders who volunteered 880 hours. ... We have a total of 3,700 hours that have already been invested in cutting grass, construction and grooming of trails, building steps and forging streams.”
Weese said the partnership with the City of Morgantown allowed them to acquire property.
“This is a monumental event for me, personally,” he added. “We started this about 2012 when we acquired this beautiful piece of property. I don’t think it was until about 2013 or 2014 that we really realized what a wonderful asset that we have.”
When Weese took a group and walked from the upper part of the farm down to the valley, he said they discovered an amazing, beautiful space.
“At that point we thought it would be important to try to create maybe a new Core Arboretum,” Weese said. “One of the things that we have done with this project is we have created a lot of additional recreation space.”
Vaike Haas, assistant professor of landscape architecture and design lead on the project, said she did an analysis on how they could develop the property.
“It was quite tricky trying to figure out where the connections could happen,” she said. “Some of these streets drop off to nowhere. I wanted trails that were less steep than the Core Arboretum because they are pretty steep — at like 20 percent — so I tried to design trails that were at five to 10 percent.
“It has been real exciting. Volunteers have been cranking it out since August.”
Blake Humphrey, student body vice president, started his speech by thanking everyone who made this possible.
“We are at the Falling Run Greenspace, and when I first heard about this project a couple of months ago I was really excited as someone who is a friend of the great outdoors,” Humphrey said. “We can always use more greenspaces, and in Morgantown we have been so blessed not only to have the Core Arboretum but Coopers Rock State Forest and so many other beautiful places all across the greater Morgantown community and our state. The Falling Run Greenspace adds to that.”
The trails are an “accessible, vibrant, rural oasis,” Humphrey said.
“I think that one thing that struck me about this is it is a legacy project for WVU,” he added. “This is something that is going to be here for years to come. This is going to be something that, not only students, but community members can benefit from and truly take advantage of the beautiful trails that we have here at the Falling Run Greenspace.”
Humphrey acknowledged that small working groups helped build the greenspace.
“I think that the collaborative aspect of this — the fact of working in teams, coming up with solutions, producing a product — that is really the heart of one West Virginia University.”
Humphrey said this allows people to create a balance in life with self-caring and living a healthy lifestyle.
For additional information, visit The Legacy Project at davis.wvu.edu.
Email Kelsie LeRose at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @kleroseTWV.