BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Countys trail coordinator told Brasher Town Board members that shed like to see trails open in the Brasher State Forest as part of the effort to promote a county-wide recreational trail system.
But Debbie A. Christy was preaching to the choir.
Absolutely. I support it myself, Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said. Its something we were definitely interested in.
Ms. Cristy said county officials had decided that creating a multi-use trail could economically help towns and villages along the route. The corridor trail has already been configured from Lewis County, through St. Lawrence County and to Franklin County, she said.
Our group looked at the issues in Lewis County and wanted to take the right steps, she said, noting they were looking for key roads to get from trail head to trail head.
Having the Brasher State Forest open for usage would be a big boost in that quest, she said.
We would greatly love to have the Brasher Forest and the Brasher area as a community connector, Ms. Cristy said.
So would the town of Brasher, according to Mr. Dawson, who said thus far they havent been able to get the trails open in the state forest.
He noted that the forest had truck trails, which he suggested were not under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Conservation. But, he and Councilman John M. Keenan said, the DEC had put those trails off-limits to all-terrain vehicle traffic.
Mr. Keenan said four-wheelers and snowmobiles had at one time been permitted on the trails.
Then the DEC started taking roads they didnt own, he said, noting that among them was the Keenan Road between Shady City and the CC Dam.
I find that incredible. I find that ridiculous. If you can drive a 50-ton logging truck down a state truck trail, I think it might be appropriate if you can drive a four-wheeler, Mr. Dawson said.
He suggested that, if the trails were open, clubs would be resurrected and police themselves.
Mr. Dawson said law enforcement officials could also play a part in keeping the trails safe and open to the public.
If somebody goes down where theyre not supposed to be, theres enough law enforcement. If somebody is abusing it, give them a ticket. If somebody is driving 85 miles an hour on a highway, we dont close the highway down because somebody drove 85, Mr. Dawson said.
He said, even with a 25 mile an hour speed limit, I think people would be just delighted. Thats certainly fast enough.
Mr. Dawson said there had been conversations with DEC officials, who indicated they had heard stories of damage in the Brasher State Forest because of ATV usage.
He said that, in an email to the DEC commissioner and assistant commissioner, St. Lawrence County Legislator Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Helena, had said that was greatly exaggerated. That wasnt the case.
Tony and I have talked at some length. There are certainly some people who abuse the privilege, he said.
The town supervisor said he had also talked with DEC Regional Director Judy Drabicki about the possibility of opening some of the trails.
I said, Judy, weve got nearly 100 miles and some roads are disputed. We can work that out. Judy asked me, I wonder if we can make some connection. I hope we can do something, even if we get our own trails opened up in this forest and have some law enforcement around on occasion, Mr. Dawson said.
Every little bit would help in promoting economic activity in the region, he said.
It will not make everybody rich, but it helps these business owners to survive. Every time they get a little bit of extra business, it helps keep the lights on and the heat on, he said.