In today’s feature on the blog, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Jeremy Wimpey, the principal at Applied Trails Research, and discuss his company’s involvement with the Baileys in addition to his thoughts regarding the project’s evolution.
Applied Trails Research (ATR) is an outdoor recreation firm and one of several national partners of the Baileys Trail System. Since its founding in 2008, ATR has established itself over the years as a leader in modern trail research and design, providing expertise on project management and spatial analysis everywhere from the Allegheny National Forest to Yosemite National Park. In regard to the Baileys, ATR has proved essential in the planning and development phases of the trails, not to mention its management of current construction efforts in the Wayne National Forest.
Wimpey created ATR while pursuing his doctorate degree at Virginia Tech, hoping to assist in facilitating various trail initiatives throughout the United States. When describing his research firm, he mentioned that private and public partnerships are integral to ATR’s work in order to “put great trails on the ground for all types of users.” Fortunately, this business model fit the Baileys to a T, and ATR took interest in the trails when Athens Bicycle Club and the Wayne National Forest reached out, soliciting design plans and project support. Now a partner, Wimpey collaborates largely with the Wayne to support design, permitting, and builds for the Baileys. Much of the system’s design and trail implementation today exists thanks to the community’s collaboration with ATR.
Wimpey went on to acknowledge the recent success of the trails, noting the diversity and increase of users on the Baileys in addition to local initiatives aimed at organizing trail maintenance efforts: “ATR is working with project partners to do some training with the local stewardship partners later in 2020 to better undertake and manage trail maintenance efforts. This increased capacity will seek to broaden the stewardship base across user communities and better coordinate efforts with the USFS and other partners on the Baileys.” Wimpey believes that these higher levels of foot traffic on the Baileys, from bikers, hikers, and trail runners alike, will warrant an increase in managing maintenance efforts if the trails are to remain in good condition and accessible to the public in future seasons.
However, ATR’s attention is currently focused on the second phase of construction at the Baileys, particularly the clearing and building of another 11 miles of trails in the Wayne. In addition to collaborating with officials from the National Forest, Wimpey’s firm is largely involved in coordinating the efforts of an Appalachian Conservation Corps (ACC) trail crew, stationed on the Baileys this summer. The ACC group, made up of six locally hired members, is working on trail construction under ATR’s guidance and alongside trail contractors.
Ultimately, Wimpey plans to support the project as it continues, even upon the completion of construction. The company is “committed to the partners, to the USFS, and the communities in the region to support development of this trail system.” Additionally, he hopes that fundraising efforts will increase as more miles of the system are built, connecting villages and townships throughout Athens County.
For information on ATR and its research portfolio, visit the firm’s website at https://appliedtrailsresearch.com/. For updates on the Baileys and different partners’ progress on the trails, make sure to follow us on Instagram @baileystrailsystem, on Facebook @BaileysTrails, and Twitter @baileys_trails. In the meantime, stay tuned for more blog features coming soon!
Written by Alli Mancz