Press-Republican

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April 8, 2013

Snowmobile group sends SOS

MALONE — Two months after seeking county help for its state-induced headaches, the Franklin Snowmobile Association is appealing to a higher authority. 

Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) will be asked to support an effort to have 100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in Franklin County be added to the anticipated recreational map from the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The agency had switched to gathering digital information using Geographical Information System data from on-ground readings to pinpoint locations on a Global Positioning System to transfer to the map.

But several counties, including Franklin, had some of their mapping data rejected. That meant the trails involved would not be included on the map because the state says it cannot prove a trail exists and is maintained by a groomer for snowmobilers’ use.

Impacted trails here were at the Trailside in Owls Head over Studley Hill to Duane, across the former D&H Railroad bed near Buck Pond to Route 86 in Saranac Lake, and a trail in the Fish Creek area.

COULD SHORT FUNDS

Counties like Franklin were told to contact Parks and Rec for a map to show what trails would be included so revisions could be made and the missing mileage restored. But a request from County Manager Thomas Leitz for a map was never fulfilled.

In the meantime, association officials corrected the insufficient GPS data and tried to resubmit the trails for inclusion on the map. But they were told they’d missed the filing deadline even though they had never been given one, said association representative David Knapp.

Association member and former County Legislator Gerald Gillmett said he wanted answers because the groomer and maintenance fund could be $60,000 to $70,000 short next year.

The trail-maintenance fund is based on snowmobile registration fees, and the association cares for about 250 miles of trails.

If the state doesn’t have an accurate groomed-mile number, the association receives less reimbursement from the fund.

Legislators will have their Economic Development and Planning Committee send a letter to the senator to solicit her help in correcting the problems.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

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