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Lewis County trail coordinator pushing cooperation, documentation

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County’s new recreational trail coordinator is hoping to lay the groundwork for a cooperative, well-documented trail program.

“We’re trying to do the best job we can with the best documentation we can,” Jacqueline L. Mahoney said.

The Castorland resident said she has spent much of her first couple of weeks on the job meeting people, including members of local all-terrain vehicle clubs.

In hopes of quelling past inter-club friction and ill will toward the county, she and other county officials also have been working to develop a protocol for assisting clubs with trail maintenance and development in their respective areas.

“Basically, we’re trying to establish a policy and procedure to go forward,” Mrs. Mahoney said.

The trail coordinator said that while she will assess trail conditions and “highlight areas of concern,” things will go much more smoothly with club involvement.

Mrs. Mahoney said she also hopes to ensure that proper procedures are followed when developing new trails, noting her experience in securing permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other regulating agencies during prior stints working for logging and forestry companies.

“With government-regulated wetlands and blue-line streams, we have to get the proper documentation,” she said.

One issue that required attention from Mrs. Mahoney even before she was officially on the county payroll was an off-road trail segment off Houseville Road in the town of Turin that was closed late last month because of landowner concerns. That cut off the trail system’s only link between Tug Hill and Brantingham.

Following discussions with another landowner, plans were made to develop a new off-road trail section to the north of the old one that would allow ATV riders to cross Route 12 onto Houseville Gulf Road, rather than Morgan Gulf Road, Mrs. Mahoney said. The Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District is working on an environmental review, after which county legislators would have to add the segment to the trail system, she said.

“We are working on it,” Mrs. Mahoney said. “It’s not just a simple step.”

While ATV issues are taking up much of the new trail coordinator’s time, she also has met with officials from snowmobile clubs to discuss applications for state trail maintenance funding and with some enthusiasts of horse riding and other nonmotorized recreation.

“It’s nice to see that people understand this is more than ATVs or sleds,” she said.

Mrs. Mahoney said she hopes to develop hiking and biking trails, possibly in conjunction with ATV ones, plus better use informational kiosks to educate people on trail etiquette, improve on-trail mapping and continue to help plan and promote annual events such as kite skiing.

The trail coordinator post had been vacant since mid-November, when former coordinator Robert C. Diehl was suspended over allegations he billed the county for gravel delivered for personal use.

Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, had served as acting coordinator in the interim.

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