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Improving and promoting outdoor recreation in Rutherford County

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ROC Rail Trail Clean-up.

In 2003, ROC President, Jerry Stensland, saw a need for an organization that could help improve outdoor recreation in Rutherford County. He created Rutherford Outdoor Coalition (ROC) to fill this need.

ROC is a non-profit organization with the purpose of improving and promoting outdoor recreation in Rutherford County. We build and maintain local trails, offer group outings, and bring people together to enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, paddling, and running.

Our goal is to get people outdoors. We lead group outings each month and are happy to see so many people joining us. These outings are a great way to meet others from the community with similar interests. We also recruit volunteers to help us with trail maintenance days on local trails. The work includes erosion prevention and repair, downed tree removal, beautification projects, and creation of new trails. In an effort to keep these places clean, we hold two trash clean-ups on the Thermal Belt Rail Trail and two river clean-ups on the Broad River in Rutherford County each year. In 2016, our volunteers removed 54 tires and more than a ton of trash from the river.

ROC contributes to a Trails Coordinator position that manages volunteers for trail maintenance, river and trail clean-ups, and other outdoor events in Rutherford County. Our current Trails Coordinator is Hallie Zeedik and anyone wanting to volunteer or get information on ROC group outings can email her at trails@rutherfordoutdoor.org.

We launched a new website recently which includes a wealth of locally-generated information about area trails and outdoor activities. On this website, we have an interactive trails map that allows users to easily access information on local trails such as location, length, and trail rating. Users can also access information on the Rutherford Race Series, a group of running events held in Rutherford County each year. There are 12 races in the series this year. We also have a Facebook page where we post our Weekly Outdoor Schedule that lists our upcoming events, as well as other local outdoor events.

ROC is always working on creating new programs to get more people involved in outdoor activities. I am the Outdoor Programs Director for ROC and my position focuses on public outreach. I have recently started a Couch to 5K program that is open to community members of all ages and fitness levels. This 12-week training prepares participants to compete in a 5K by slowly increasing their running time each week. This program started February 27 and has 61 participants so far. We will continue to offer these Couch to 5K programs each year at no charge to the public. A second Couch to 5K program has already been planned and will begin on July 3. You can email me at dana@rutherfordoutdoor.org for more information on this program or other outreach opportunities.

More info on these and other events can be found at www.rutherfordoutdoor.org and on our Facebook page.

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