County backs trail section

A member of the Lewis County Department of Recreation, Forestry and Parks team clears a downed tree blocking a section of off-road vehicle trail in the county-wide system earlier this summer. The team will build a new 7.5-mile section of trail in the town of Greig next summer. Photo provided

LOWVILLE — The Lewis County Board of Supervisors approved a new 7.5-mile trail addition to the county’s Off Highway Vehicle Trail System at its meeting on Tuesday.

The trail section will run through a county-owned parcel used for forestry, according to Recreation, Forestry and Parks Department Executive Director Jackie Mahoney, in the area of Abbey, Beals and Fowlerville Roads in the town of Greig.

“(The trail cost) was going to be part of a grant but because of restrictions on U.S. steel in the grant (requirements), we’re not doing the grant,” said Mrs. Mahoney. “We’re going to try to (build the trail) in-house.”

For most trail projects, the Recreation Department applies for grants to pay for any new equipment needed while Mrs. Mahoney and her team contribute the actual trail building labor and other materials as the county match for the grant program funds. Due to Trump-era restrictions on imported steel, however, the grant that applies to this type of project will only pay for equipment made of 100% U.S. steel, she said, and no waivers were available to get around the issue.

The decision was made to try to break the trail with the equipment they have available, but it won’t be easy.

“I have some (equipment) but I really need a bigger tractor so I was going for a 70 horsepower tractor with implements,” said Mrs. Mahoney.

She is hopeful that her budget request for next year that includes some additional staff as well as the needed equipment will be approved by legislators.

“We are so far behind because of COVID,” Mrs. Mahoney said about her team’s trail work. “So this won’t be done until next year. We’re too close to season and we’re already in the rainy season.”

The new trail section connects to “the Commons” area of the trail and because of the sandy soil in the area, Mrs. Mahoney believes that once the trail is made, it won’t be too difficult to maintain compared to some of the trails up on the Tug Hill Plateau.

Once this section of trail is completed, the county will have about 95 miles of off-road trail available to “enhance the recreational use of the natural resources available in the county, as well as encourage tourism,” as stated in the legislation that created the system in 2019.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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