Multiple partnering organizations came together to collect a total of 1,001 tires along the future extension of the Ghost Town Trail on Saturday, March 25th. The event was a collaboration between the Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority, the Cambria County Conservation District, Boy Scout Troop #115, Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Saint Francis University Environmental Engineering Club, and many other community volunteers. A total of 40 volunteers came out for the event.
The tire cleanup was funded by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful’s 25 in 25 Grant Program, in conjunction with Keep Cambria County Beautiful, as well as the Bridgestone Tires4Ward program. Transporting the tires to a recycling facility and recycling the tires is quite costly, but this funding has made it possible. Additionally, as part of the Fugitive Tire Program, the Boy Scout Troop was given a donation of 50 cents per tire they collected.
The cleanup project will help to eliminate those tires that would detract from the natural beauty that surrounds the future Ghost Town Trail extension and otherwise pose a threat to the wildlife and fragile ecosystem of the south branch of Blacklick Creek. The estimated 800 tires have sat along the C and I railroad corridor, which is the path of the trail extension, for over 50 years as a junkyard used to exist along the corridor. Blacklick Creek follows the trail on this portion, and tires exist on both sides. The tires will be recycled into reusable material such as rubber mulch, playground turf, or athletic turf.
The property is on a hillside that drops over a wooded bank to the railroad and them a second even steeper bank to the creek bottom. Butch Kerchenske and other volunteers from the Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited installed a cable system to hoist the lowest tires up to the rail road grade with powered capstan mounted to a pick-up truck towing hitch. He also cleared about a quarter mile of overhanging brush off the rail line to allow truck to access the pick-up area. The tires that were directly above the RR grade were rolled, dragged, and lowered to the railroad bed where they were loaded onto pick-up trucks and trailers. The vast majority of tires still contained rims, which made them twice as heavy. Multicomm of Hollidaysburg donated the use of their rigger to help loosen the tires.
The current Ghost Town Trail extension project, which follows the C and I railroad corridor from White Mill to Cardiff, stops prior to where the cleanup will take place. The tires line the future Ghost Town Trail extension portion that will eventually connect back to the current Ghost Town Trail in Cambria Twp. The CCCRA is currently seeking funding to complete this extension, which will be the first continuous loop rail-trail in the U.S. when finished.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful awarded twenty-five grants of up to $1,000 to tax exempt groups for community improvement projects in their three focus areas of ‘Prevent It, Clean It, or Keep It.’ The winning projects are representative of all the different ways we can individually and collectively improve our communities.
The Bridgestone Tires4Ward program was founded on the vision of achieving a waste-free tire industry. For every tire Bridgestone sells in the U.S., Bridgestone’s goal is to ensure that one spent tire means another will go to a valuable purpose. Bridgestone’s company-owned retail stores recycle 100 percent of the spent tires they remove from vehicles. Last year alone, Bridgestone retail stores saved more than 10 million spent tires from the landfill.