By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — Building a Franklin County trail system for all-terrain vehicles, horseback riding, bicyclists, hikers and others won’t work without property easements.
The Franklin County Recreational Trails Association has the necessary legal paperwork and insurance coverage in place. Now all it needs are willing landowners to come forward.
The association was established last year following the success of the original ATV and Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, appointed by the County Legislature to study the feasibility of multiple outdoor-recreation trails.
The system could provide designated local paths and also connect Franklin County’s trails to existing or developing networks in Clinton and St. Lawrence counties.
HELP FROM DEC
Chastity Miller, director of the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, shepherds the committee’s work on easements and says there is no preconceived path for the trails but the idea is to connect as many willing owners as possible.
From there, the group will work with the State Department of Environmental Conservation to link one trailhead to another.
“DEC told us they’d be more than willing to cooperate with us to provide the connectors,” said Dan Crippen of Burke, one of the founders of the association and a former county legislator.
“Now, we just need to get more easements.”
Crippen said the association has its first five property owners on board and will be approaching others nearby in hopes of creating a network of parcels that riders will be able to cross.
“We’re fully insured now, which was concern to a lot of people,” he said. “We’ve got the easement papers, and everything else is ready to go.”
To learn more about the easements or the association’s plans, contact Miller by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 483-4061, Ext. 110.
According to association’s website at www.fcswcd.org, the system is expected to feature two-way trails no wider than 50 inches, with bends and turns to keep speeds low and preserve the integrity of the pathway and its surroundings.
Trail surfaces will be resistant to erosion and designed under guidelines used by the U.S. Forest Service and a number of off-road, biking and motorcycle associations.
Off-trail connecters will be as close as possible to food, gasoline, lodging, scenic areas, campgrounds and other facilities.
An education component will include maps, brochures, newsletters and kiosks, as well as events and activities about conservation, sensitive resources and tread-lightly recommendations.
Before the system is completed and adopted by the County Legislature, a full environmental quality review will have been done.
The oversight will ensure as little vegetation as possible is disturbed, and tree plantings and invasive-species checks will be conducted annually.
Enforcement of the trail regulations will be done by a volunteer patrol using ATV clubs memberships, focusing on peer and public education to encourage rider safety and ensure compliance.
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