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Multiuse trail could include connector below Rainbow Falls Dam

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators are supporting the reopening of a snowmobile connector corridor below Rainbow Falls Dam in Parishville where two men drowned March 4 while trying to cross the reservoir ice on snowmobiles.

Access below Rainbow Dam on Pickettville Road was part of a recreational route since the 1950s but was restricted in recent years by Brookfield Renewable Energy Group, the owner of the dam.

Access was limited because of updated security protocols as well as the fact that minimum flow through the bypass reach was increased, making crossing unsafe, Brookfield spokeswoman Shannon Ames wrote in an email.

Previously, the route was part of a groomed snowmobile trail and included in a state Department of Environmental Conservation management plan.

On March 4, Robert G. Campbell, 78, Norwood, and Robert P. Whalen, 87, Canton, crashed through ice and drowned while trying to cross Rainbow Falls Reservoir, highlighting the importance of reopening the route for safe passage.

“Obviously, we don’t want a reoccurrence of what’s recently happened,” said Legislator Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Helena.

The county Recreational Trails Advisory Board has identified the route as critical to cross-country trails development.

The county and Brookfield want to find a way to protect the interests of each other, Mr. Arquiett said. Proceeding will involve approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“FERC is the first step to allow us to get onto their property,” Mr. Arquiett said.

Brookfield is willing to have the discussion, Ms. Ames said.

“Brookfield is always open to talking with the county about access around our facilities as long as safety concerns can be addressed, including public safety and the safety and security of our infrastructure,” she wrote.

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