CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An elite group of Boy Scouts plans to build trails at the New River Gorge National River next month, the National Park Service announced Monday.
More than 1,700 Scouts -- members of the Order of the Arrow honor society -- are expected to take part in the four-week service project.
Each week, a new group of 250 to 350 Scouts will help build 16 miles of hiking and biking trails, rehabilitate 12 miles of ATV trails and remove 4 acres of non-native plants.
"This project will save taxpayers over $1 million as the Boy Scouts clearly demonstrate their leadership in developing youth who understand the importance of community service and the shared stewardship of our national parks," said Don Striker, superintendent of New River National Park in Fayette County.
The hiking and bike trails will be built near the massive Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, the future home of a high-adventure base and National Scout Jamboree -- an event held every four years that attracts thousands of Boy Scouts from across the U.S.
Each Scout volunteer will spend at least 32 hours on the service project.
"To see thousands of young people -- many of them teenagers -- from across the nation give up a portion of their summer to do hard physical work should inspire all of us that the next generation of youth are headed in the right direction," said Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive with the Boy Scouts of America. "Boy Scouts have always understood the importance of the outdoor classroom, and are extremely proud to partner with the National Park Service to create these world-class biking trails and many more service projects that will benefit the community."
The National Park Service has signed a contract with the International Mounting Bicycling Association to help design the multi-use bike trails.The National Scouting Center, located on 10,600 acres near Glen Jean, is expected to open in 2013.