The McLean County Fiscal Court approved Wednesday the Livermore Enhancement Foundation's plan for three bicycle routes along low-use county roads, as well as allow the Foundation to organize painting of signage on roadways for cyclists, thus pushing the group further toward certifying Livermore as a Kentucky Trail Town.

While this is a move in the right direction for the Kentucky Trail Town Task Force, the group working to create cycling, walking, and boating routes in the city, there is still work to be done, according to task force co-director Ralph Thacker.

Thacker and the group also addressed Livermore City Council last week, with the task force bringing to the table plans for directional tourism signage to denote where specific recreational paths will be, as well as the bicycle plan, both of which were unanimously approved by the Council.

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The bicycle plan includes three routes of varying difficulty, according to co-director Sonny Renfrow.

All three bicycle paths start and end in Livermore, at the Riverfront Park. The Green Route is considered an easy route with 17 miles traveling to Richland Road out to Calhoun. The Orange Route is 30 miles, and travels down 1046 to Kentucky 136. The Blue Route is considered challenging with a 45-mile route out Kentucky 136 to Beech Grove.

Renfrow said the routes are keep riders off main thoroughfares, and "keep everyone safe."

According to the Office for Adventure Tourism, a Trail Town is "a destination along a long-distance trail or adjacent to an extensive trail system," be that hiking, water, or rail, "users can venture from the path to explore the unique scenery, commerce and heritage that each trail town has to offer." Trail Towns are not in and of themselves, Kentucky Adventure Tourism states, they are linked throughout the commonwealth through a series of trails, which allows for locals and visitors to pass through on day trips of long distance journeys through parks, rivers, and trails.

A Kentucky Trail Town, according to Kentucky Adventure Tourism, could do a number of things to promote their trail town, including welcoming trail users to the town by providing information about the community, connecting and partnering with other nearby Trail Towns, educating local businesses about meeting trail tourists' needs and promoting trail-friendly characteristics of the town.

Promoting Livermore as a Trail Town, and making specific trail areas more obvious is one reason why Thacker and the task force are seeking appropriate signage.

"We'll try to seek funding sources to get it done," Thacker said. "Mainly it's signage, but there are other things, like we want to add some bicycle racks around town, and maybe some benches along the river walk."

Partnerships with local businesses are crucial to certification because adventure tourists require lodging, equipment and food, which is why Thacker is also working on creating available rooms through Airbnb, which is an international marketplace that allows property owners to list their rooms or homes for rent.

Being certified a Kentucky Trail Town also allows communities to receive special marketing and branding from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. Kentucky Trail Towns are also featured on websites, social media, visitor guides, state highway maps and other promotional materials.

The task force has been working toward Trail Town status for about three years, and the signage and bicycle pedestrian plan are just "two pieces of the pie," Thacker said.

"It's not the end-all by any means. To be a trail town you have to have trails for people to enjoy," he said.

Currently Livermore is working with Hartford to create the Rough River Trail which would allow paddlers, canoers, or kayakers to boat from Hartford to Livermore. This will require participation and help of current landowners along the trail.

"(Hartford is) getting ready to put an access point below the weir in Hartford," Thacker said. "That will be putting people on the river to connect with Livermore. But we are really seeking at least two more access points between Hartford and Livermore."

He said a few landowners along the route have been willing to meet with state officials, and that the task force is not giving up hope that such access points to and from the river will be feasible.

Looking forward the task force is planning to have some merchant meetings for business owners in the area.

It's a lot of work, Thacker said, but it's worth it.

"It's about getting people out in the great outdoors," he said. "Getting exercise, and having fun. Hopefully it'll bring a new identity to Livermore, and a new economy, and even more than that it's going to bring a better quality of life to Livermore."

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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