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The Everyday Efforts to Protect and Improve the Long Path
Building, maintaining, and protecting a 358-mile long-distance trail takes a lot of passion, dedication, and leadership.
The Long Path is New York’s premier long-distance hiking trail, spanning 358 miles from 175th Street in Manhattan to John Boyd Thacher State Park, north of Albany. A hiking trail running from one of the largest cities in the world through dense urban and suburban areas faces numerous challenges. Unlike trails in parks that are protected, the Long Path runs through state, county, and town parks—and through a lot of private lands. While more and more parts of the trail get protection through land acquisition and agreements, more and more construction and suburban sprawl threaten the existence of the trail. The Trail Conference, with local municipality partners, is constantly fighting to preserve and protect the trail. One example of this battle recently occurred in Nyack, where the trail runs between two apartment complexes through a narrow strip of land protected by Rockland County. The Trail Conference was notified of the planned construction of a clubhouse at one of the complexes that might impact the trail. We asked the county for further information, but they had no record of a construction permit. I went to take a look for myself. While there, I discovered another inconvenience: dirt and debris had been illegally dumped over a portion of a county trail and onto the Long Path.
I notified the county, and Park Operations Manager Michael DiMola inspected and confirmed that a contractor had improperly filled the area. We met with the manager of the complex, who said the work had been done without their knowledge and that the debris would be removed.
Mike DiMola made sure the trails and surrounding area were restored. Meanwhile, the county received the permit request for the clubhouse construction; it was planned to sit adjacent to the complex’s pool, about 200 feet from the area that had been improperly filled. The clubhouse was planned to be a 2-story structure immediately adjacent to the trail. While the construction on private property could not be stopped, the Trail Conference was given the opportunity to comment on the plans. We asked that native, deerresistant landscaping be planted to provide a visual buffer.
To accommodate construction, the Long Path needed to be moved, and Rockland County offered to relocate the trail. Mike, with assistance from the Rockland County Conservation and Service Corps, cleared the route using weed whackers, chainsaws, rakes, and shovels. They even covered the new trail with wood chips. The new route was not only necessary for the preservation of this Long Path section; it’s also an improvement over the former trail, thanks to our valued Rockland County Parks partners.
Your Trail Conference membership helps to maintain, protect, and yes, improve the trail. If you are interested in helping to preserve the Long Path, contact [email protected] to find out how to get involved.