by Claire Woodcock, North Country Public Radio, link to original post
The St. Lawrence County Recreational Trails Advisory Board has been working for some time to create a sustainable community-linking system throughout the county. Last week, community members had their first look at maps of the trail route.
Last Thursday evening, more than 100 people gathered in the Colton-Pierrepont Central School auditorium to learn more about the St. Lawrence County Multi-Use trail system and what it will mean for the community. The more-than-200-mile system is called “Blazing Trails,” and will extend from Franklin to Lewis Counties. The trail will be multi-season and multi-use, and open to snowmobilers, ATV users, mountain bikers, horseback riders, hikers, cyclers, cross country skiiers, dog sled users, and snowshoers. The committee hopes to extend the trails further with smaller trails diverging from the main tracks.
County Trail Coordinator Deb Christy says the multi-use trail system will promote tourism in the North Country, benefitting local businesses that have struggled to remain open.
Christy said that the system will showcase the County’s beautiful natural setting. “We want all our area people to get out and enjoy our great outdoors. I mean we have beautiful assets in the North Country, and we feel everyone should get out and be able to use them in whatever manner they choose to use them.”
Christy and others said the formation of the trail system is expected to help new and established local businesses expand and succeed in the community, and to attract travelers from outside the area. “We worry about the economy in the North Country,” Christy said, “and we want to be able to bring more dollars into our small businesses to keep them going year round. We hate seeing businesses close right and left and we want them to be able to stay and have sustainable income all year, not just part of the year.”
Many ATV users attended the meeting, and most seemed in favor of the trail system as a whole. However, there was some dispute over how the motorized vehicle users and hiking and skiing enthusiasts would share the land and continue to enjoy their differing recreational activities. At the meeting, several community members expressed their unease about noise and fumes from the ATVs on the new trail, which prompted some ATV owners to grumble and walk out of the meeting.
By the end of the summer, the first part of the trail is expected to open to the public in Colton, Pierrepont, Parishville, and Hopkinton, connecting St. Lawrence and other neighboring counties.