Return to story
Volunteers who maintain the 15.7-mile Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail would like the state to take it over.
People who have maintained a private trail in King George County for six years are once again asking the Board of Supervisors to endorse the project.
On Tuesday, the Friends of the Dahlgren Heritage Railroad Trail will present a petition asking the board to approve the 15.7-mile trail.
The group doesn't want the supervisors to turn the land into county property or take over the trail's upkeep.
"We want them to allow us to get the state to take it as a state park," said Dave Jones, president of the friends group. "There is only so much that a purely volunteer organization can do."
Jones would like the Dahlgren trail to be connected with the state's Caledon Natural Area and to fall under the supervision of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
"Basically, no one will touch this until the King George Board of Supervisors gives its endorsement," Jones said.
Supervisors haven't given their approval of the project in the past because the trail has been a contentious issue.
Landowners near the abandoned railroad bed, which runs from State Route 605 near the King George County Landfill to Dahlgren, feared the trail would bring litter and crime to their backyards.
A church along the route didn't want its cemetery disturbed by hikers, and a shooting club didn't want its range divided by the path.
At a supervisors' meeting in July 2006, board members questioned the motives of David Brickley, the former state legislator who bought the trail property in 2006.
At the hearing, opponents of the trail suggested Brickley wanted to sell utility rights to developers. Residents feared that action would bring more urban sprawl.
Since that time, the friends of the trail have worked to get the old rail line in shape for hikers, bikers and horseback riders.
They've cleared the path of railroad ties and stumps, held marathons and other racing events that brought visitors to the county, and helped Scouts, rangers and animal groups raise money.
"I think most people would say it's the best thing that ever was," said Cedell Brooks Jr., chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "But there were a lot of issues that came before the board before. Let's see what the people come up with Tuesday night."
Because the trail is privately owned, it's never been included in any county planning document, said Jack Green, director of community development.
Those who want to use it get a permit--and more than 1,200 have since the trail opened, said Warren Veazey, who will make the presentation to the supervisors on Tuesday.
About 600 of the permit-holders are from King George, Veazey said.
Diana Beyer lives about two miles from the trail and visits it often with her two dogs. She loves the diversity.
There are sections where pine needles carpet the path and stands of hardwoods provide shade. It takes her longer to get through the wetlands because she stops to watch the ducks and deer, heron and beavers.
The dogs get to experience a few hours in the woods, where they can "smell and pee with abandon," Beyer said. "Can't get more fun than that."
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
As of Sunday, 347 people had signed the online petition asking the King George Board of Supervisors to endorse the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail. The petition states that the friends of the trail, who maintain the 15.7-mile route, have been good neighbors and have promoted free public events for six years.
The petition asks signers to ask the supervisors to approve it as a free recreational facility so it can, in turn, become a state park.
To see the petition, go to the story about the Dahlgren trail on blogs.fredericksburg.com/kinggeorge.