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Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy says bye-bye-bye to Abingdon

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Creeper Trail 05

The Creeper Trail in Damascus, Virginia.

After receiving a 30-day eviction notice from Abingdon officials recently, Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy officials are planning to move the office out of town. Where they plan to land has not been disclosed.

The conservancy received an eviction notice Friday, April 22, tossing out the 31-year-old, nonprofit organization from the Findlay House. Town officials later said they wanted to negotiate to potentially keep the organization in place, but a letter to supporters made it clear Conservancy officials are finished talking and ready to start walking.

“We’re moving on,” Virginia Creeper Trail Conservancy Executive Director Lisa Kestner Quigley said.

The house at the Abingdon trailhead of the 34-mile-long Virginia Creeper Trail had been established as a welcome center for the popular hiking and biking trail nearly 10 years ago. But town officials say they want that space now to develop a new welcome center for the trail and the nearby Meadows Sports Complex.

Despite the April 22 eviction notice, town officials met with Conservancy officials late last week to discuss a possibility of the group staying put. Yet the town would not give the Conservancy any assurance that they would drop the eviction, Quigley said. 

On Sunday, the Conservancy’s board of directors voted unanimously to accept the eviction and leave Abingdon. The following day, on Monday, Conservancy officials sent a letter to Abingdon officials, saying they were interested in exploring other opportunities.

News of the eviction inspired offers of helping the Conservancy find a new location in Washington County, the town of Damascus and in the U.S. Forest Service, according to the Conservancy’s letter.

Washington County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Mike Rush lobbied that the group should move to Damascus, saying it is more centrally located on the trail and that the economic lifeblood of Damascus depends more heavily on trail traffic.

Quigley said the exact location for the Conservancy would be announced in a few days.

Abingdon Mayor Derek Webb said he had hoped that the group would have been able to stay in Abingdon.

“Apparently, they have decided to leave,” Webb said. “I hate they are leaving, but that’s their prerogative.”

jtennis@bristolnews.com | 276-791-0709 | @BHC_Tennis

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