The Friends of Pocahontas State Park recently completed a $210,000 fundraising effort to expand parking at the Swift Creek Trailhead. The fundraiser was among the group’s biggest achievements of 2019 which they celebrated Tuesday, Jan. 14 by presenting a check to Pocahontas State Park Manager Nate Clark.
“It’s an honor to accept this donation from the Friends of Pocahontas State Park,” said Clark. “My sincerest appreciation goes out to the Friends of Pocahontas, rvaMORE, ASR Racing, Henry Lovin of Lee’s Chicken, rva Eligible Cyclist by Scott Terbush, Robyn Browne of Poca Go, Molly’s Bicycle Shop, Take Aim Cycling, Felix Garcia, Jay Paul Insurance, UPS, Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation and everyone who has helped make this project possible.”
Phase 1 of the project raised over $37,000 for the technical drawing and storm water management plans and was completed in spring of 2019. Phase 2 consists of the physical construction of the parking lot and will go out to bid in February or March now that funding has been secured.
The success of the fundraising campaign can largely be credited to local rider and match donor Jerry Guyant.
“I’ve been biking here for years and was hoping to help build additional trails,” Guyant said. “But the park explained they couldn’t support more trails and more riders without additional parking. So I said, ‘then let’s take care of the parking problem.’”
Guyant is 78 and can been seen riding two to three times a week at the park. He told Clark he would commit to matching donations up to $100,000 between October and December 2019, and the race — as they say — was on.
Upon receiving the donation, Clark noted there was one more accomplishment to recognize. His staff then presented FoPSP board members with the Virginia State Parks 2019 Volunteer Organization of the Year Award recognizing the efforts of the community volunteers who work to enhance visitor experiences.
Many of the parks have “Friends of” organizations that support the parks with staffing, additional funding, and general labor around the park, but the FoPSP stood out in 2019.
“In 2019, the Friends of Pocahontas State Park contributed over 28,000 volunteer hours,” Clark said. “That’s the equivalent of 13 full-time employees.”
Roger Sattler, president of rvaMORE, a local mountain biking advocacy and stewardship group, was amazed at how the project came together.
“This is a great example of what can be accomplished between state officials, community members, and user groups and volunteers,” Sattler said.
“Pocahontas trail users not only show up with needs and desires, but they show up with solutions and a willingness to help accomplish those desires,” Clark added. He also noted this parking expansion will provide dedicated accessible parking spaces and better access for groups such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America, which holds twice-annual events on the park’s trails.
Sattler and rvaMORE volunteers are out nearly every weekend at the park helping maintain the 90 some miles of biking trails. The prospect of more parking has him excited for the next generation of riders.
“It’s one less obstacle for folks to enjoy healthy outdoor recreation at Pocahontas,” he said. “The proximity of the lot to the trail hub is perfect for families with small kids. Soon, they’ll spend more time riding the trails and less time getting to them.”