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Jim's testimony at hearing on Oct. 13
There were about 40 people at the meeting last night, chaired by Thomas Lyons, and 15 gave verbal comments. Six of the speakers were from the NY/NJ Trail Conference including Walt Daniels, Jane Daniels and myself. Regarding the AT the points made included:
1) A statement that a MOU existed for many years between various NY state agencies and the NPS, ATC and NY-NJ TC and that the MOU defined a 500' zone on either side of the AT wherein any changes called for consultation. I said I was disappointed that the whole master plan development went forward without consulting the AT community. Talking with Garrett Jobson after the meeting he did not know such a document had existed. This is certainly impetus to move the MOU renewal along. We should also reexamine the document to see if it adequately protects us from this type thing, I think it could be beefed up.
2) I said the three main concerns we had were the crossing of the AT by a multiuse trail, having a new trail co-align with the AT, and changes being proposed at southern end near the Bear Mtn Bridge where an "AT-Alternate" was shown. As the maps did not show much detail, more information was requested regarding the last item. On a positive note, I mentioned we appreciated that the master plan called for improving parking as many cars park along Rt 301 and pulling out can be hazardous.
3) Stated the AT community would like to work with the parks to achieve a mutually acceptable approach to meet OPRHP's objectives. Further, the Trail Conference and ATC have a wealth of experience in trail design and construction experience which could be made available to the parks and they should take advantage of it.
Here a few notes from what others said:
1) Gary Haugland, the driving force behind the Hudson Highlands Trail which was to co-align with the AT, indicated he also preferred not have the co-alignment.
2) A couple of people, a hunter and a conservationist, indicated their concern about breaking up large woodland areas with the construction of new trails
3) Two mountain bikers said they preferred loop bike trails rather than point-to-point. This may give us the opportunity to suggest a route that loops the proposed bike trail back to its start rather than cross the AT!
4) Though we have been lucky not to have an ATV problem on the AT in these parks, a number of speakers, including many mountain bikers, expressed dismay over the abuse many of the park's trails have received from these vehicles. Always a good message for OPRHP people to hear.
5) Only one equestrian oriented speaker. She pointed out that horses need well groomed trails and can not tolerate the rough trails hikers and bikers can. This would put into question the implementation of a multiuse trail.
I will pull together the set of comments above and submit them to OPRHP before the Nov 5 deadline. Walt, Jane, Leigh let me know if what I noted is incorrect or if I missed anything. I would suggest the Trail Conference and ATC also submit written comments.
Bob, Garrett Jobson was very personable and gave every reason to expect we would be able to work with him in the future. It turns out he lives in the same town I do, about five miles away. I encouraged him to get over to the Pawling boardwalk and visit Bear Mountain to see the type of work we do.