COVINGTON - Chad Irey, who's either built or supervised the construction of most of the trail system in Covington's 700-acre Devou Park, recently became the first Kentuckian and the 85th person in the world to be accepted into the Professional Trailbuilders Association.
Since 2009, the 40-year-old Covington man with a passion for hiking and off-road cycling has done everything from recruiting and supervising volunteers to build natural surface trails in Devou Park to helping raise money for trail construction.
As a result, the self-employed carpenter with thousands of volunteer hours designing and building trails has turned a hobby into a business that's dedicated to building a regionally renowned trail system. Irey's Dirt Artisans company has specialized in natural surface trail design, construction and maintenance at various locations in Greater Cincinnati for the past four years.
"To be accepted by some of the masters in the profession is awesome," Irey said of his April acceptance into the Professional Trailbuilders Association. "Those people have been building trails for 40 to 50 years. It's a huge professional jolt, but more than that, trail building is fun. I'm a lucky person who's been able to turn my hobby into a profession."
Founded in 1976, the Professional Trailbuilders Association is North America's largest private sector group of trail specialists, professional trail contractors, designers and consultants. Besides U.S. trail builders, the group has members from Canada and France. Its website boasts that its membership is small because it stands for quality over quantity.