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Changes could be coming to Brandywine Creek State Park trail network

DNREC's Brandywine Creek State Park trail plan would expand the park’s trail network by 10 percent, adding new trails, resurfacing or realigning others and closing some deemed less sustainable. 

Dan Martelli was among several mountain bikers who inspected the planat an open house at the park Tuesday. Martelli has been riding in the park for decades and takes issue with some of the projected trail closures.

“The really steep and sort of soft soil trails are getting beaten up and so they’re eroding,” he said. “[DNREC’s] reaction is to close them. And they’re the nicest trails out here. It’s going to fundamentally change these trails. ”

But David Bartoo, an outdoor recreational planner at DNREC, says the redesign was crafted to achieve broader goals.

“What we would like to do is move the needle to more sustainable, more economical for us in terms of maintenance, and just make it better all around—more diverse experiences for a more diverse user group,” he said.

The plan would also expand some walk-only trails to allow bikes.“Here on the west side of the park currently is pedestrian only,” said Bartoo. “We would like to change that to a shared use scenario to open up more opportunities to other types of users— for biking specifically.”

One priority in the plan is paving the currently crushed-stone Brandywine Trail on the east side of the creek. “We would like to be able to improve the sustainability, the accessibility, the environmental degradation that’s going on — and by improvement, that could mean likely paving the trail,” said Bartoo.

Another is installing a new trail near the park’s nature center that is accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Bartoo says the plan could take years or decades to implement depending on funding and changes to the environment. He also says priorities within the trail plan could change. 

“The concept is a snapshot of today and what we think the future will look like." He notes one complicating factor is climate change. “The intensity of storm events that we’ve been seeing—that has changed the face of how we’re looking at constructing trails, what we need to do to maintain trails and how to better manage trails.”

The Division of Parks and Recreation is accepting comments on the plan through an online survey.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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