By ALVIN REINER
---- — ESSEX — In six years, Champlain Area Trails has established 31 miles of trails for local walkers.
“It started with a vision to promote the communities and economic vitality,” Champlain Area Trails Executive Director Chris Maron said at the recent Champlain Area Trails National Trails Day celebration.
“We think of this as fun. We are doing this for the future and will have hundreds of miles of trails.”
“If it can be done in Wales, it can be done in Wadhams,” CATS board member and host Steven Kellogg said in his remarks.
National Trails Day is intended to celebrate progress in making trails that increase enjoyment of the outdoors and promote economic vitality.
CATS endeavors to create new trails, protect natural habitat and scenic vistas and promote outdoor recreation that will enhance the local economy, conserve habitats and support innovative farms, scenic beauty and appealing hamlets.
TRAILS GIVE BACK
Agencies need to collaborate in the conservation of the Adirondacks, Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway remarked at the event.
“Trails are a way to give back to the community,” he said. “They are a tool that we can use to build a community that cares about nature. It takes a community with everyone working together to build trails and care for the Adirondacks. You can buy lands, but working together is just as important.”
He said he is pleased with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s local economic agendas, as well as his support for promoting clean air and water, “but it helps to have organizations like CATS to make sure the state is playing its part.”
Janeway spoke of the Adirondack Council’s vision for ecological viability, vibrant and sustainable communities, clean water and air, and the continuance of the private-land tradition in the park.
“We are looking at what we can do in the next six years and want input from groups like CATS as well as individuals,” he said.
“It is valuable to have an open, transparent process.”
A major change within the park, according to Janeway, has been a new generation of Adirondack entrepreneurs “that care about what we have here.
“We need to look at master plans and work with current tools.”
Earlier in the day, CATS held its second-annual Mineville Iron Ore Man Challenge to run or hike the popular Cheney Mountain Trail, which opened last spring.
In the afternoon, on Black Kettle Nature Trail, the organization unveiled nature interpretation signs illustrated by Sheri Amsel.
CATS recognized people for valuable contributions toward the organization’s endeavors, among them Kellogg, and Richard and Leanna DeNeale, who provided a 319-acre conservation easement on a parcel between Essex and Willsboro.
Also during the event, winners of the first-annual CATS Photography Contest were announced: The People’s Choice Award went to Melissa Maki’s “Best Day Ever” portrait of three puppies with a CATS trail marker and accompanying poem.
For the Judges’ Award, there was a tie between Aran Voss Hutchins’s “Snowberry Clearwing Moth” and Janet Denny’s “Accidental Meeting,” which depicted the view from Cheney Mountain.
Paula Castner of Lancaster, Mass., won the $500 first-place prize in the CATS Travel Writing Contest with her essay describing a hike on the Wildway Overlook Trail, visiting museums and parks, going to church and the Elizabethtown Library and buying food at the farmers market and local restaurants.
“I just wanted people to walk with me as I went to all these great places,” she says in her entry.
High-school freshman Julia Dixon of Lake Forest, Ill., won the $250 People’s Choice Award.
The 14-year-old has been spending summers at her grandparents in Westport, “since I was born,” she wrote.
Dixon wrote of hiking Coon Mountain, visiting Dogwood Bakery and about how much she loves coming here.
To learn more about CATS, to contribute or obtain a trail map, go to: champlainareatrails.com.
Email Alvin Reiner at: firstname.lastname@example.org.