Trails Council Meeting - April 3, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Trails Council

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council
April 3, 2014

5:30 PM – Networking

6:30 PM – Meeting begins

(Severe Weather Date – Thursday, April 10, 2014)




The Trails Council is a forum for discussing trail-related projects and concerns as well as sharing information and strategies. It makes decisions concerning adoption of new trails, blazing procedures, and matters that directly affect the building and maintenance of hiking trails. Voting members are the council chair, trails chairs, supervisors, trail crew chiefs, and crew leaders. Club trail representatives and visitors are welcome at these meetings, routinely held on the first Thursday of even numbered months, except when inclement or hazardous weather causes cancellation.  In which case, the "severe weather" meeting will be rescheduled for the Thursday of the following week.  Please submit items at least one week before the meeting. We will try to accommodate late submissions if there is time.


Note: All items requiring a vote must be submitted in advance in writing so that we have an accurate record in the minutes.



  • Introductions:
  • Announcements:
  • Approval of minutes:
  • Additions to agenda:




  • Conservation
  • Publications
  • Volunteer Committee
  • Web Team Report


Trail Approvals and Updates – 5 minute time limit per presentation. Trail update form and map of change must be submitted prior to the meeting:


  • Adoption of Bedford Audubon Trails  (Jane Daniels or Geoff Connor)
  • Adoption of Manitoga Trails  (Mary Dodds)
  • Highlands Trail Relocation, Glen Oleksak
  • Adoption of Cranberry Lake Preserve Trails, Jane Daniels


For Discussion:


  • Consultant work status, Chris Connolly
  • Sawyer Trainer status, Chris Connolly


Old Business


  • Continuation of conversation about the restructuring of trail Council meetings, Jane Daniels



Sandwiches and beverages will be served. Donations to cover costs are greatly appreciated

Directions: NY NJ Trail Conference: 156 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah, NJ

It is located on Route 202, near its intersection with Route 17. Coming from the south, take Route 17 to the Route 202 exit in Mahwah, and turn right at the bottom of the ramp.  The Trail Conference office is the first building on the left.  Coming from the north, take the New York Thruway to Exit 15A and continue south on Route 17.  Take the exit for Route 202 (the second exit on Route 17), turn right at the bottom of the ramp, and cross under on Route 17. The Trail Conference is the first building on the left.


Status of Minutes: 

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
Trails Council
February 6, 2014

6:30 PM – Meeting begins





The meeting was called to order at approximately 6:30pm.  Present were Jeff Senterman – Senior Program Coordinator; Peter Dolan – New Jersey Program Coordinator; Hank Osborn – East Hudson Program Coordinator; Chris Connolly; David Day; Estelle Anderson; Bob Jonas; Jack Driller; Salley Decker; Gail Neffinger; Andrew Seirup; Monica Day; Rick Levine; Sam Huber; Jakob Franke; Walt Daniels; Jane Daniels; Jim Haggett; Keith Scherer; Dick Katzive; Patsy Wooters; Gaylord Holmes; Dave Stuhr; Fred Stern; John Mack; Mark Liss; Brian Sniatkowski; Howie Liebmann; John Magerlein; Joel Pinsker; Frank Schoof; Patty Lee Parmalee; Gary Haugland




Trail Chair Reappointments & Appointments


Chris Connolly announced that all Trail Chairs were reappointed at the January Board of Directors meeting and that the following new Trails Chairs were appointed:

  • Glenn Oleksak  - Western Highlands Trail
  • Alex Marra and Will Soter - co-Chairs of the Southern Catskills Region.


Chris Connolly announced that at the current time all of the Trails Chairs positions are filled, for the first time in many years that we have had all of our Trails Chairs positions filled.




The minutes from the December 5, 2013 meeting were reviewed by the Trails Council and a motion was made to accept the minutes.  The motion to approve the minutes of the December 5, 2013 meeting passed unanimously.




Chris Connolly presented Lifetime Achievement Awards (and honorary life memberships) to Bob Jonas & Estelle Anderson and thanked them for their many years of service to the Trail Conference. 





Board Chair Remarks


Chris Connolly wanted to point out that seven of the 16 Board Members were present at the meeting and that moving ahead in the future, Chris has asked the Board Members to attend Trails Council when they are able to do so. 


Chris stated that a strategic planning process has been discussed at the Board level, but there is a need to take care of organizational frictions and difficulties before a strategic planning process can be successfully begun and implemented.  Chris stated that at a number of different types of meetings and at different levels within the organization, there have been friction and communication difficulties.  He said that all of these issues will need to be discussed and worked on prior to and throughout the strategic planning.  Chris said that this friction has the potential to impact the morale of staff and volunteers and our interactions with partners.  Chris said that the Board will be bringing in a neutral party to allow all sides to talk to one another and work through issues with one another.  This will be Board driven process and Chris expects that a consultant will be on board by the end of the month.  This would allow for the representation of all viewpoints in an inclusive process.  Civility and courtesy are necessary throughout this process. 


Chris said that we need to treat each other with courtesy and respect.  Chris said that the Board is committed to a work environment free from harassment of any kind and that we need be able to discuss issues in a courteous and respectful manor.  The tone of what we say, what we do and what we email needs to be courteous and respectful and that it matters to volunteers, staff and our partners.  


Gary thanked Chris for his remarks.  He was happy that there will be a strategic planning process, and affirmed that this is something that many have wanted to happen.




Jakob Franke stated that there was not much new to report.  The committee continues to work on parcels in Orange County and the committee is very involved in Orange County in general.  Jakob stated that there are several opportunities to safeguard and perhaps improve the route of the Long Path and Highlands Trail through the county.




A question was asked on the status of a casino proposal on the Shawanga Lodge property.  Jeff Senterman stated that the Shawanga Lodge casino proposal was endorsed by the Mamakating Town Board despite advocacy effort of the Trail Conference and a number of other organizations.


Chris Connolly stated that as part of the Strategic Planning process will address advocacy and how the organization can best address those issues since the Conservation Committee no longer addresses advocacy issues.




Jane Daniels reported that the next edition of Walkable Westchester is going to the printers shortly.


It was reported that the North Jersey Maps should be available tomorrow (February 7th, 2014).


Volunteer Committee


Jane Daniels stated that an announcement for award nominations will be going out in the April Trail Walker.  If anyone has nominations to make, please speak to Jane.  There will also be a post card going out to all volunteers during National Volunteer Week to thank them for their service.


Web Team Report


Walt Daniels reported on a DDOS (Denial of Service) attack on the website over the past few weeks that continually crashed the server during that time period, making the website inaccessible.  Walt reported that several countermeasures have be made that should help the stability of the website.


Staff Reports


Jeff Senterman provided a short overview.  Jeff reported that the Trail Conference’s Winter Meeting being held Saturday, February 8th and that all were welcome to register and attend.  The Winter Meeting is being held in NYC and will include several different presentations and workshops, including a discussion led by our Professional Trail Builder Ama Koenigshof on the new Federal Accessibility Guidelines for trails and how those impact the work that we do in our regions.


Jeff reported that John Leigh is waiting on materials to begin the next printing of business cards for our volunteer leadership.  As soon as those materials arrive, he will begin printing and then distributing the completed business cards.


Jeff reported that he and Josh Howard will be holding meetings with Chairs of each of our regional Trail Committees in order to discuss the 2014 Trail Conference budget that was approved by the Board.  Jeff explained that these meetings would provide information on funding that is available for projects, how Program Coordinator time will be allocated in each region and will be an opportunity to discuss budgets in general and start the planning for the 2015 budget.



Trail Approvals and Updates


Background on Trail Conference Negotiations with the Connecticut AMC regarding maintenance of Appalachian Trail Section (Jim Haggett)


Jim Haggett, the Chair of the Dutchess/Putnam Appalachian Trail Management Committee (DPATMC) presented a short presentation that provided information on the history of negotiations over a segment of the Appalachian Trail in New York on Schaticoke Mountain.  In this area, the Appalachian Trail leaves New York, enters into Connecticut, then doubles back into New York before entering Connecticut for good.  The management and maintenance responsibilities for this interior New York section have led to friction between New York and Connecticut over who would be responsible for this section of Trail. 


Jim said that he, Ron Rosen and Ed Goodell had sent a letter to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy requesting that this issue be taken care of in the spring of 2013.  Jim also said that Ed Goodell has been very helpful throughout the entire process with ATC and CT-AMC.  Jim said that he followed up with ATC all summer without hearing anything in response to the letter.  This past fall and winter Jim continued to follow up and receive assurances that this issue would be taken care of by ATC.  The first revised draft of an agreement that was presented following a meeting between Jim, Ed and ATC was not viewed favorably by Trail Conference or by CT-AMC.  Jim sent a letter to the CT-AMC Trails Chair with our concerns and a follow up draft MOU was received approximately 3 weeks ago that has more agreeable terms.  Overall the new agreement is that the maintenance of the 1.2 miles of AT in NY in question will be adopted by the CT-AMC and they will report that work to the Trail Conference and the Trail Conference will be ultimately responsible for land and trail management of this section of AT.  Salley Decker, the Trail Maintainer for the past 25 years will be allowed to continue maintaining this section.  This agreement will address the issues that the Trail Conference and DPATMC had with the issue.


Request for name change at Teatown: remove Northwest Trail (yellow) blazes which are co-aligned with the Briarcliff Peekskill Trailway (green) and a portion of the Teatown Kitchawan Trail (purple) (Jane Daniels)


Jane Daniels presented the name change, which is proposed to avoid confusion amongst co-aligned trail names.  A motion was made to approve the change and the motion passed unanimously.


Approval of Dover Stone Church Preserve for Adoption (Salley Decker)


Salley Decker reported that the site is located in Dover Plains, and the Dover Stone Church Preserve includes approximately one mile of trail.  The Friends of the Preserve currently maintain the one trail.  They would like to join the Trail Conference and have the Preserve’s trail be adopted by Trail Conference.  They hope to take advantage of our expertise to expand trail network and system.  Trail network is accessible from Rail Line. 


A motion was made to approve the adoption and the motion passed unanimously.


Adoption of existing Long Swamp Trail in Sterling Forest (John Mack)


John Mack made a short presentation of the location of this trail in Sterling Forest State Park and explained that there is a Scout Troop that as already agreed to maintain this trail section. 


A motion was made to adopt the Long Swamp Trail and approved unanimously.



For Discussion


Re-structuring of Trails Council (Jane Daniels)


Jane Daniels stated that she would like to start a conversation about how the Trails Council can work and accommodate the needs of all of the regions that encompass the territory of the Trail Conference.  She said that ten years ago there were 13 Trails Chairs and today there are 21 Trails Chairs.  During that same time period, the mileage of trail that the Trail Conference is responsible for has increased significantly.


Jane said that the Trails Council follows same general pattern that it has followed since the 1980s – a meeting of peers, made up of the volunteer Trail Leaders in the Trail Conference.


Jane made a presentation on the Trail Conference/Trail Council model and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Trail Stewardship Committee Model.  During this presentation, Gail Neffinger pointed out that there are additional members beyond just Trail issues on the ATC Stewardship Committee.  There are also outside members brought to the committee to provide expertise on issues.  Gail said that ATC staff also provides significant logistical and policy support to committees.


Jane said that her suggested model is a “New Trails Council” that works on policy issues while Regional “Trail Councils” handle trail related issues at the local level (EH, WH, NJ & Catskills).  Sam Huber asked why this shouldn’t be part of the Strategic Planning process instead of a separate effort. Jane said that changes like this can be made before a SPP begins.  Discussion ensued and Chris Connolly said that the SPP would be inclusive, does not have a time table and everything needs to be discussed with everyone before any changes are made to Trails Council. 


Gary Haugland thought that the proposal was a bit heavy on the bureaucratic side of things and worried that participation may be lacking.


It was stated that the current Trails Council provides networking opportunities that would be lacking in a regional model where members would only be interacting with their own trail committee members.


A discussion ensued on the pros and cons of these models, without a general consensus being reached.  It was agreed that this topic deserved future consideration and discussion and would be something that should be included in the SPP process as it begins to gear up and move ahead.


Chris said that one of the most important things we can all do is urge Trail Supervisors to go to Supervisor 101 course, which provides a deeper understanding of the Trail Conference to them and is an excellent opportunity to invite them to the Trails Council.



Old Business


A short discussion on who are members of the Trails Council took place.  As a result of that discussion, staff will ensure that all Trail Supervisors, Trails Chairs & Crew Chiefs will be invited to Trails Council meetings and will work to make sure that the database is up to date so all the proper people are invited.


The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:47pm




Minutes by Jeff Senterman

Senior Program Coordinator