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Lewis County has early opening for ATV trail system

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County again has opened its all-terrain vehicle trail system early owing to unseasonably dry conditions.

“There is no snow, so we went out and cleared all the trails to make sure they were passable and opened up early,” county Trail Coordinator Robert C. Diehl said.

The county opened the fourth year of its permit-based system on April 15, the same date as in 2010. It will run through the start of rifle season in mid-October.

County officials each year tentatively plan for a May 1 opening day, as was the case in the inaugural 2009 season, but will start before then if weather permits, Mr. Diehl said.

The primary focus this year will be on developing trails in the Constableville and Highmarket areas, Mr. Diehl said.

More active leadership in the Highmarket Wheelers ATV club has led to 32 landowners in the towns of West Turin and Lewis signing agreements with the county allowing off-road trails to be developed on their properties, he said.

“We’ve started the SEQR work,” Mr. Diehl said, referring to the State Environmental Quality Review process. “We’ll be getting into trail work as soon as the weather cooperates.”

Constableville trustees have set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the village fire hall to discuss opening portions of James and High streets to ATV traffic, which would allow access to the Alpine Restaurant and Nice N Easy properties along Route 26, he said.

Mr. Diehl said he also plans to ask county and West Turin town officials to open road portions to connect the new trails on private land, likely by July.

County legislators earlier this month agreed to accept a long-abandoned railroad corridor from Iroquois Gas Transmission System Inc., Shelton, Conn., connecting Lyons Falls with Burdicks Crossing Road in the town of Turin for recreational trail use. That property should be usable by ATVs without a great deal of maintenance work, Mr. Diehl said.

The trail coordinator said he plans to discuss soon with Lyons Falls officials the opening of some village street portions to allow direct ATV access to businesses, including the Edge Hotel, Boondocks Restaurant and, possibly the Stewart’s Shop, all along Route 12.That process should be completed within the next couple of months, he said.

Mr. Diehl said he also is mulling development of a walking and biking trail along the Iroquois property, with a fence separating it from the motorized trail, that could run between Lyons Falls and Glenfield. The county holds a recreational easement on a corridor between Glenfield and Burdicks Crossing Road, owned by the Brantingham Snomads snowmobile club, which is used now only as a snowmobile trail.

The county contracts with the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce to sell ATV permits, with the chamber receiving a 10 percent administrative fee. There were 2,293 permits sold last year, resulting in $76,100 in revenue for the county and chamber.

The chamber thus far has sold 882 permits for the 2012 season, a handful more than in the same period last year.

Permits cost $40 for an ATV owned by a member of a club in the Tug Hill Adirondack ATV Association and $80 for a machine owned by a nonmember. There is a half-price discount on permits for the second through fifth machines purchased by members of the same household, with all ATVs having to be registered to the same mailing address. The county charges the full price for the first permit and any additional ones beyond the fifth machine.

Permits once again are being sold at the chamber office on South State Street, through its website and at several restaurants, motels and ATV dealers.

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