Legislature Endorses Grant Application to Enhance Finger Lakes Trail
The Legislature, by a vote of 8-4 (with 3 Legislators absent), supported the county’s application for $36,500 in state funding, under the Department of State’s 2006 Quality Communities grant program, to prepare a comprehensive protection and management plan for 74 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail connecting a ring of forested hills and valleys known as the “Emerald Necklace”. If funded, the project would be undertaken through collaboration with the Finger Lakes Land Trust.
The “Emerald Necklace” area, which includes more than 50,000 acres of public open space, stretches from eastern Schuyler County through southern Tompkins County. From west to east, it includes the Finger Lakes National Forest; the Texas Hollow State Forest; Cliffside State Forest; Arnot Teaching and Research Forest; Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area; Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls State Parks; and Danby, Shindagin Hollow, Potato Hill, Robinson Hollow, Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn State Forests. The Finger Lakes Trail runs through and between these areas, crossing private, as well as public land.
Planning Commissioner Ed Marx told the legislature that the planning grant would “look at the long-term future of the trail”, determining where trail access is secure and where handshake agreements with property owners may need to be finalized. A trail corridor plan would be developed over a two-year period.
In Tompkins County, the trail runs through the Towns of Newfield, Ithaca, Danby, Caroline, and Dryden. Dryden legislator Mike Hattery questioned whether towns, such as his, have been adequately consulted so far. Legislator Frank Proto, who represents Caroline and Danby, also sought assurance that local landowners would be involved. Marx responded that informal discussions have already occurred and that the project would fully involve both municipalities and property owners, once underway.
If funded through the grant, the project is scheduled to commence in May of 2007.
Contact: Planning and Public Works Commissioner Ed Marx, 274-5560; Martha Robertson, Planning, Chair, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, 272-0584; Legislator Michael Hattery, 844-4361.
Among other actions, Legislators