Pioneering Steps on Carolina Thread Trail

Significant Progress in 2008 for Greenway Network


The Carolina Thread Trail will link parks, trails, paths, abandoned railroads, scenic roadways, rural green space and historic sites to more than 40 destinations and attractions across the region.

The Carolina Thread Trail will be a
500-mile network of greenways connecting 15 counties and 2.3 million people, linking the region’s diverse resources, cultures and economies.

This 15- to 20-year project began in 2005 when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation, an affiliate of Foundation For The Carolinas, brought together regional leaders and organizations to pinpoint the most pressing environmental needs. The finding: Preservation of open space is critical in an increasingly urban region where natural resources and recreation resources come under relentless pressure.

Local jurisdictions determine priorities and locations in each county with public engagement as a guiding principle. The Carolina Thread Trail governing board, led by Ruth Shaw, the former president of Duke Energy and a board member and past chair of Foundation For The Carolinas, oversees fundraising and direction.

In 2008 the project took groundbreaking steps. The Thread trail governing board built private capital to $19 million and secured close to $18 million in public capital. The Thread Grants Committee began work, and grants totaling $360,000 went to six communities for master planning. Master plans and corridor routes are now complete in Gaston, Mecklenburg (phase 1) and York counties. Planning efforts are under way in Cleveland, Cabarrus, Chester and Lincoln counties. More than 124 resolutions of support for The Thread were obtained from local governments and community groups.

Also significant: The first annual Carolina Thread Trail Forum brought together more than 170 trail and greenway enthusiasts and practitioners to share best practices and share information.

Goals for 2009 include continued planning for The Thread, land acquisition, streamlining expenses and obtaining federal Economic Stimulus Funding.

The $2 million financial commitment to the Carolina Thread Trail from Foundation For The Carolinas is one of the largest in the Foundation’s history.