February 12, 2013

Fighting to stay on the map


MALONE — Faulty computer data may keep 100 miles of designated snowmobile trails in Franklin County off the state map next year.

And that inaccurate information could cause snowmobilers to bypass county trails, which would harm local businesses and also decrease grooming and maintenance funds by $60,000 to $70,000.

The trails left out include one near 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 one in the Fish Creek area.


Former County Legislator Gerald Gillmett and David Knapp, representatives of the Franklin Snowmobile Association Inc., told legislators that something went wrong with the transmission of geographical-information system (GIS) data to a global-positioning system (GPS) used to pinpoint where something is on Earth.

When the collected data was forwarded to the Snowmobile Unit of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, “they said it was bad data, but I was not able to get them to elaborate,” said David Knapp, the association’s representative on the New York State Snowmobile Association.

He asked both Stephen Lewis and James MacFarland for a further review of the data, but he had not heard back from anyone as of Thursday.


Knapp said the mapping problem can be corrected if revised GIS data is submitted before June 1.

But the county must first get a copy of the state’s map and compare it to the association’s data to determine exactly what trails are being left off. Then, the association can gather updated GIS data on the ground and forward it to the state for inclusion on the 2013-14 trail map.

County Manager Thomas Leitz said he requested that map via an online form and may follow up with a formal letter, asking for a more complete explanation for the omission of certain Franklin County trails.


In the meantime, the association will have fewer trail miles recorded and will be reimbursed based on those lower numbers, Gillmett said.

The money comes to the county from a state trails-maintenance fund built from snowmobile-registration fees then passed on to the association, where it is used for trail upkeep, maintenance and signage.

The association has five groomers caring for 250 miles of trails.

Gillmett also asked legislators to look at snowmobiling and its potential as an economic engine more seriously as they study instituting a bed tax and work on tourism initiatives in Franklin County.

“Don’t forget us,” he said. “We’re running a good operation.”

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